Most obituaries of Rosa Parks focus on the story we all know: how the humble seamstress changed history by refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. But while that account is accurate, it's only part of her story. In this interview we originally aired in 2005, Bob talks with Duke historian Tim Tyson about the construction of an American hero.
Ghost of Bradley Effect
We recorded this interview during the presidential campaign when the "Bradley effect" was getting a lot of media play. The term comes from Tom Bradley's 1982 California gubernatorial campaign, in which the discrepancy between polling (which predicted he was ahead) and the actual result (he lost) was attributed to white voters not being able to pull the lever for a black candidate. But Democratic and Republican strategists who worked on that campaign tell us there was no Bradley effect even for Bradley. And Nate Silver of the blog 538 says the misnamed phenomenon hasn't been observed since the early 1990s.
It's interesting how people would rather honor a humble "everyperson" than a political activist. I had the opportunity to see her at a presentation at Wayne State in Detroit years ago, and in my opinion the real woman is far more facinating than the myth.