Rosa Parks And Her Secret Recipe

A pancake recipe written on the back of the envelope reveals some secrets about Rosa Parks.

You might be surprised but besides being an incredibly brave activist Rosa Parks liked to cook and she often did it for her 11 nieces and nephews.

Last year the personal Rosa’s document released by the Library of Congress were put online for the first time. They include some very personal materials like postcards from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., lists of volunteers for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and pages and pages of journals. One of these is a recipe for “Featherlite Pancakes.”

“We have all these misconceptions about [Rosa Parks],” says food writer Nicole Taylor, author of The Up South Cookbook. “She’s human. And the pancakes are the most human thing.”

There are lots of very peculiar details about this recipe. “She had lost her job for taking the stand that she did,” explains Adrienne Cannon, the curator of the Rosa Parks papers at the Library of Congress. “Both she and her husband were receiving death threats. And she was struggling to find gainful employment again.” So it’s not just a coincidence that the recipe is written on an envelope from the bank of Detroit (parks and her husband had to move there due because of discrimination and threats).

Adding peanut butter into a pancake mix is also rather meaningful. Peanuts came to America via slave trade and soon became most common in Tuskegee, Ala, where Rosa Parks was born.

“It makes me look at [Rosa Parks] as more of a ‘normal person,’ “ Taylor adds.  “She had to eat. She wasn’t just this person who was all about the civil rights movement. She cared about nurturing and feeding her family. The pancake recipe makes me feel closer to her.”

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