Well, let me start by saying I’ve won an award! I’ll have more in a day or two, so stay tuned. Because I want to blog about the award later in the week, I’ve swapped some blog ideas around and am posting Rosa Parks Day a few days early.
The U.S. celebrates Rosa Parks Day on February 4th (Saturday this year). Rosa Parks, a seamstress, became famous on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. In the segregated South, African Americans were forced to sit towards the back of the bus and give up their seats to white passengers. Ms. Parks was arrested and fined for her defiance setting off the Montgomery bus boycotts. Many people mark her protest as the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.
What few realize is that Rosa Parks was an activist and NAACP member at the time of her arrest. Her refusal to give up her seat was not a spur-of-the-moment decision born out of tiredness, but part of a larger, organized movement. In fact, the NAACP had been looking for a case to use as the basis of a law suit. Unfortunately, many myths about Rosa Parks still perpetuate, especially in children’s literature. Nikki Giovanni’s book, Rosa, is one of few that attempts to put Rosa Park’s case in context.
Teaching children about Rosa Parks is a great way to kick off Black History Month. The Museum of Living history boasts a wonderful biography of Rosa Parks…..here. The site also includes a 1995 interview and many photos from the period. Scholastic.com’s Teacher section contains many resources about her life and importance.
If you are a classroom teacher, here’s a wonderful lesson plan for grades 4 through 7 by Mandy Roman, which will help students experience what it was like to sit at the back of the bus. Teach-nology has a host of free Black History Month lesson plans as well, which are perfect for upper elementary and middle school students.