6 Things You Didn't Know About Rosa Parks (NEW BOOK)

02/04/2015 08:56 am ET | Updated Apr 06, 2015

February 4 is the birth date of Rosa Parks, the quiet, courageous black woman who, 60 years ago in 1955, refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white passenger. You probably know she became an American civil rights icon from that day forward. Though she passed away in 2005, Rosa Parks' niece Sheila McCauley Keys and writer Eddie B. Allen Jr., co-authors of the new book Our Auntie Rosa, tell us a few things you definitely never learned about the great Rosa Parks in school.

  • 1 Auntie Rosa was a TV star
    Rosa Parks appeared on two hit television shows: once on the game show "To Tell the Truth," and later on "Touched by an Angel," in which she portrayed herself and co-starred with late acting legend John Ritter.
  • 2 Auntie Rosa loved yoga and eating green
    Rosa practiced yoga and became a vegetarian in her 70's, due to her health issues (with her heart; she had a pacemaker).
  • 3 Auntie Rosa was a conservationist
    Rosa was a recycler before recycling was the responsible thing to do. She reused plastic bags, paper bags, jars, foil... she was determined not to let anything go to waste.
  • 4 Auntie Rosa was a life-long social reform activist
    Rosa Parks was an activist long before she was arrested protesting discrimination on a Montgomery bus in 1955. As far back as the 1940’s, she courageously investigated the horrific gang rape of Alabama woman Recy Taylor, on behalf of the NAACP, and she pressed (unsuccessfully) for the prosecution of Taylor's attackers.
  • 5 Auntie Rosa was a self-taught orator
    Rosa taught herself the art of public speaking by going to the library, checking out a book on a subject, and practicing in front of her mirror.
  • 6 Auntie Rosa rolled deep with international superstars
    Stevie Wonder once sang his famous version of "Happy Birthday," written to honor Martin Luther King Jr., at a birthday gathering for her. (Happy Birthday this February 4, Rosa Parks -- and thank you.)