Rosa Parks is the revolutionary Civil Rights figure known for the pinnacle moment in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat her to a White passenger in the segregated South. While history books honor Parks’ legacy, many are still unaware of the years she spent as an activist preceding this incident and her continued commitment to eliminate the laws that kept Blacks oppressed.
Thankfully, we can call upon the new TV One film “Behind the Movement” to broaden our understanding of Parks’ world-renowned impact. Recently, the Sentinel spoke with the star of the period piece, Meta Golding who portrays the late Rosa Parks. For starters, we asked Golding if she had any apprehensions about starring in a role so critical in American history. Admitting that she was taken aback by the “enormity of the shoes” she would have to walk in, Golding says it was quite the honor to play Parks.
“I kind of entered it with reverence because I know how much she means to so many people. I also know that a lot of people still don’t know about who Mrs. Parks is and there was a lot I didn’t know about Mrs. Parks,” Golding said. “She was a symbol of the civil rights movement and I didn’t know that she was a seasoned activist before she refused to give up her seat in 1955. All of these things just made it huge,” Golding added.
Golding also shared that “Behind the Movement”, directed by Aric Avelino, will allow viewers to understand just how serious the fight for freedom and equality was in the segregated south. While we tend to only consider the isolated moment Parks refused to give up her seat, Golding says we often forget about the fact that Black soldiers returned from World War II to the segregated South where White brutality was at an all-time high and Black families feared for their lives daily.
“Now everybody loves the NAACP, but it was dangerous to be a part of this organization back then,” Golding declared. “Rosa wasn’t so much a verbal communicator, she was a doer. I just didn’t realize what a rebel she was, what a fearless woman she was, how she was going around and recording civil rights complaints all over the state. One person can shift things, one act can inspire others,” she added.
“I think right now as a culture we need some inspiration and dignity. I allowed myself to be inspired by her and by all of the other cast members and characters that were fighting this amazing, difficult, complicated fight that was the Civil Rights Movement.”
Veteran actor Isaiah Washington is also in “Behind the Movement” as Edgar Daniel Nixon, the civil rights figure responsible for organizing the revolutionary Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. “I was disappointed that I didn’t know who he was, and that he had been working with Rosa Parks as the president of the NAACP Montgomery Chapter in Alabama, that he had been working actively for like 13 years trying to find the right person to person that he thought could carry out the boycott,” Washington stated.
The Grey’s Anatomy actor also touched on Parks’ work alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the number of other significant civil rights leaders highlighted in the film. “Rosa was just the perfect litigant at the time and Martin Luther King was the perfect face to be the President of the Montgomery Improvement Association. E.D. Nixon created that along with A. Phillip Randolph and Ralph Abernathy,” Washington said.
Washington also noted that despite having less time and money to complete the film, director Aric Avelino carried out the vision in an “authentic, detailed way.” “The choice of shots, the choice of composition of shots, the economically pure shots, we got a lot of detail, a lot of spirit and a lot of vision,” Washington stated. “I feel like this is probably my best work to date.”
Washington also credited Jaclyn S. Banner for spearheading the costume design and screenwriter Katrina O’Gilvie for bringing “enlightenment to hidden figures” in the movement such as Joann Robinson, Fred Gray, Clifford Durr and Virginia Durr, attorney Charles Langford and Joe Azbell amongst others. “Finally after all this time, I think we’ve set the record historically,” Washington stated.
One of Hollywood’s most seasoned actresses Loretta Devine is also starring in the film as Jo Ann Robinson, the teacher and activist who was integral in increasing voter registration, spreading the word about the boycott and organizing transportation for civil rights protestors. Roger Guenveur Smith is also starring the film as Raymond Parks, Rosa’s husband of 45 years who helped to support his wife in her fight for equality and freedom.
“Behind the Movement” premieres on TV One on February 11, 2018 at 7/6C.