Niece of Rosa Parks to give talk in Lincoln as part of Magna Carta festival

The niece of civil rights activist Rosa Parks is making her only European appearance at Festival800 in Lincoln next month.

Sheila McCauley Keys will deliver a fascinating personal account of he life and lessons of her ‘Auntie Rosa’ at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) on Friday, September 4.

Along with writer Eddie B Allen Jr, Sheila has authored a new book that gives an insight into Rosa’s life, beliefs and work as a civil rights activist.

Rosa Parks became an American icon for the civil rights movement after refusing to give up her seat in the ‘coloured section’ of a bus to a white man when the driver asked her to.

Sheila McCauley Keys said: “I only knew her as Auntie Rosa until the 4th grade. And then, one day at school, we learned about Rosa Parks in class and she looked just like my auntie – so I told my classmates, ‘That’s my auntie.’

“They all laughed in disbelief and made fun of me as I raced home after school and learned for the first time that my aunt was, in fact, the mother of the civil rights movement.

“I’m really looking forward to visiting the UK and Lincoln for Festival800. It’s the only opportunity we’ll have this year to visit abroad to talk about my auntie, and there doesn’t seem to be a better place to do that than during a festival celebrating one of the precursors to everything she stood for.”

Festival Director David Lambert said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Sheila and Eddie to Lincoln for Festival800, especially as it is the only chance people will have to see them in Europe.

“The evening will not only give a unique insight into Rosa as a civil rights activist, but also as a treasured member of her family. Their appearance really underpins the themes of freedom of speech and human rights which are at the heart of this celebration of Magna Carta.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Festival800 will be an artistic and cultural celebration of the Magna Carta and its principles of freedom and liberty which, 800 years on, still have significance for people living in England today.

“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Sheila and Eddie to Lincoln to take part in the celebrations, in what will be a one off opportunity for people to hear first-hand about Rosa Parks, her life and her civil rights activism.”

Tickets for Festival800’s ‘Our Auntie Rosa’ lecture with Sheila McCauley Keys and Eddie B Allen Jr are on sale now for £10 each and can be purchased online.

Read our guide to the programme of events for the festival.