"Let Justice Reign"
What You Need To Know:
The rest is history. There is a great authenticity to the film, and the characters are real. Director Julie Dash deserves special commendation. The message is not what Rosa did, but the fact that God has ordained that the wicked, in this case the driver, will eventually reap their just rewards
(CC, L, V, S, MM) Christian worldview with strong political elements, church scenes, and racial protests; 8 obscenities; kissing and innocent married couple bedroom scene; and racism, intimidation and cruelty to blacks.
The African-American motion picture box office success BARBERSHOP took the sardonic position that Rosa Parks did nothing but sit down on a bus. Therefore, it is with great joy that MOVIEGUIDE® reviews the television movie, RIDE TO FREEDOM: THE ROSA PARKS STORY that sets forth the entire story of this valiant woman.
The movie opens with the famous press coverage of her getting on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and quickly flashes back to Rosa going to a little Quaker school for Negroes in 1924. When one black girl says that it doesn’t make any difference whether they learn to read or write because they’ll just have to serve the white folks, young Rosa points out that God created everyone equal and that she can be anything she wants to be.
Rosa grows up to be an attractive young woman whom a barber, who likes to be called by his last name, Parks, decides to court. She tries to avoid him, but eventually his persistence wins out. One day she goes to visit a friend of hers, who’s a member of the NAACP. She starts to volunteer teaching black children to read and using the Bible as her textbook. During a rainy afternoon, she balks at having to get on in front of the bus, pay her fare, get off, get drenched in the rain, then get back on in the back. The driver drives off without her.
Eventually, she is sitting in the rear “colored” section of the same bus with the same driver. A white passenger enters, and the driver tells her to move. When she won’t, he calls the police. The police note to the driver that she is legally seated in the “colored” section, so the driver moves the sign to the seat behind her and the police arrest her.
The rest is history. Blacks all over Montgomery begin to boycott public transportation. Martin Luther King, Jr. becomes a household name, and the United States Supreme Court overthrows the discriminatory laws of Montgomery, Alabama. Documentary footage at the end shows the real Rosa Parks being honored by the President of the United States.
RIDE TO FREEDOM is a well-produced television movie. Although the producer says that much of the Christian content was cut, there is enough Christian content to recognize that Rosa Parks was not motivated by rebellion. In fact, she was sitting in the colored section, and the driver was the one who moved the sign. One character even says that Rosa did what she did because of “her Christian commitment to the teachings of Jesus!”
There is a great authenticity to the film, and the characters are real. Although Angela Basset, who helped produce the movie, looks a tad old for the teenage Rosa, she does a superb job, especially as Rosa ages.
Director Julie Dash is the first African-American female director ever to have a film in commercial distribution in the United States, DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, which was well reviewed by MOVIEGUIDE® in 1992. RIDE TO FREEDOM showcases her great talent, and it is truly regrettable that she has not been able to make it back to the big screen.