Rosa Parks, Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi) of the rap group OutKast, settled an ongoing six-year lawsuit in which Parks accused the duo of defamation and trademark infringement in relation the group’s 1998 Aquemini’s song entitled “Rosa Parks.”
In the settlement, OutKast, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records and LaFace all agreed to work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development to develop educational programs, produce and create a tribute CD, along with an educational television program about Parks’ life and legacy that will be distributed on DVDs to thousands of public schools nationwide. They also agreed “to enlighten today’s youth about the significant role Rosa Parks played in making America a better place for all races,” in their future work, Parks’ guardian Dennis Archer said in a statement to the Associated Press.
Parks previously sued for over $5 billion against the OutKast song in which the lyrics, “Uh huh hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus,” appear in the chorus. The case was originally dismissed in 1999, but Parks’ lawyers pursued the suit again in 2004.
Sony BMG’s attorney, Joe Beck, said to the Associated Press that the defendants were happy with the outcome of the case and that he and his clients “appreciate Mrs. Parks’ and her attorney’s acknowledgment of the First Amendment in protecting artistic freedom.”
Parks, 92, made history is 1955 when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man in Alabama, which was one of the many milestones in the Civil Rights Movement. She was diagnosed with dementia in 2002, which made the lawsuit questionable since it was not supported by many of her relatives.
“I thought the lawsuit was ridiculous myself. It’s been implied or outright stated many times that a lot of experts think Rosa Parks is not only unaware of the lawsuits but probably wouldn’t have initiated them if she was self-aware. More than that, OutKast wasn’t even using her name negatively; they were handling it respectfully in a socially aware song. I think her caretakers just wanted some money, but that’s just a personal thing,” said Spelman senior political science student June Jones.
Other students can see the relevance of the suit.
“I’m glad they came to an agreement. I can see that maybe she didn’t want her contribution to the Civil Rights Movement to be associated with a rap group who uses terms like ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ in reference to black women. Referencing a historical figure and event is not an infringement on trademark by any means and the song wasn’t about her anyway, but I really can see where the discrepancy occurred,” said Howard senior psychology student Jonathan Shelton.