The common image of Rosa Parks is a bespectacled woman with hair pulled back. But Parks’ had waist-length hair that she did not reveal publicly. Political science professor Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, discusses this in a Huffington Post piece;
“Many of Parks’ ancestors were Indians. She noted this to a friend who was surprised when in private Parks removed her hairpins and revealed thick braids of wavy hair that fell below her waist. Her husband, she said, liked her hair long and she kept it that way for many years after his death, although she never wore it down in public. Aware of the racial politics of hair and appearance, she tucked it away in a series of braids and buns — maintaining a clear division between her public presentation and private person.”
In this rare vintage photo, Parks can be seen taking down her waist-length hair at night.