Share

BIO Classroom

BIO Classroom

Bio of the Month Rosa Parks

BIOGRAPHY®: Rosa Parks

As the civil rights movement began to gain momentum, Rosa Parks helped spark a flame that would mobilize the movement to a new level. She became a pioneer for African-American rights, serving as a beacon of hope during a dark period in United States history. Born February 4, 1913, Rosa Parks spent the early years of her life in Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1932, she married Raymond Parks, earned her high school diploma, and began work as a seamstress. By 1943, Parks had joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she served as secretary and youth leader. Through her work in the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, Parks began a lifelong commitment to equality.
On December 1, 1955, after a full day of work, Rosa Parks boarded a Montgomery bus, paid her fare, and found a seat on the segregated bus. As the bus started to fill and available seats began to disappear, Parks and several other black bus riders were ordered to relinquish their seats so that white patrons could sit. She refused to give up her seat on the grounds that she had the same rights as anyone else regardless of her skin color. Though she was not the only African American arrested for refusing to give up a seat, Parks and the NAACP made her story into the centerpiece of a powerful campaign to draw attention to the deep inequality in American society. She went on to continue her work with the NAACP and was active in the fight for civil rights throughout her life. She served on the staff of Michigan Congressman John Conyers for over two decades, and was honored with many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her life is a powerful testament to the ability of one woman to be a catalyst for long-term change.
NOTE: Visit www.biography.com/people/rosaparks-943 3715/videos to view short videos about Rosa Parks.

CURRICULUM LINKS

These videos of Rosa Parks are useful for courses on U.S. history, civil rights studies, black history, and women’s history. They are appropriate for seventh-graders and above.

VOCABULARY

Using a dictionary (www.merriamwebster.com) or an encyclopedia, students may want to define or explain the significance of the following terms from this program:
  • boycott
  • civil rights movement
  • Congressional Medal of Honor
  • doctorate
  • encouragement
  • integration
  • NAACP
  • sacrifice
  • segregation

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Who was Raymond Parks? Why do you think it was so important to him that Rosa graduate from high school?
  2. How do you think Rosa Parks’ work with the NAACP helped influence her decision to remain seated on the bus when asked to move?
  3. What happened on the day of Parks’ trial? Why do you think the black community leaders of Montgomery scheduled the bus boycott for the same day as Rosa’s trial?
  4. How long did the bus boycott last? How did the boycott affect the city of Montgomery? What did the black community sacrifice to keep the boycott going for so long?
  5. Although two people were arrested for not giving up their seats prior to Rosa Parks, why do you think she became the face of the civil rights movement?
  6. What does the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development aspire to do? How do you think the institute embodies the legacy of Rosa Parks?

EXTENDED ACTIVITIES

  1. Timing History. Draw a timeline from 1913, when Rosa Parks was born, to the present day. Chart events in the history of civil rights. Write short descriptions of the events you charted.
  2. Changing America. Many people of different races have been active in the civil rights movement. Choose one individual, research his or her contribution to civil rights, and write a presentation based on your findings. Give a short presentation to your class detailing the contributions your person made to help change American life. You can also present your findings on a poster or in a PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Living Through Segregation. Pretend it is 1955. Create a poster encouraging people to boycott the city buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Or write a journal entry about participating in the bus boycott.
  4. New Problems. Rosa Parks and others have helped the U.S. become more egalitarian, but there are still issues in this country and throughout the world. Do some research on the Internet or at the library and pick one problem facing America or the world; do you think it can be solved? If so, how would you solve it? Write a one to three page essay documenting the problem and proposing a reasonable solution.

REFERENCES

Websites

More information on Rosa Parks from BIO.com:
http://www.biography.com/people/rosa-parks-9433715
Additional Resources From HISTORY.com:
http://www.history.com/topics/rosa-parks
More Resources From Scholastic:
http://www.teacher.scholastic.com/rosa/
The Academy of Achievement:
http://www.rosaparks.org/

Books

Brinkley, Douglas. Rosa Parks: A Life (Penguin Group, 2000)
Gosman, Gillian. Rosa Parks (PowerKids Press, 2011)
McDonough, Yona Zeldis. Who Was Rosa Parks? (Grosset & Dunlap, 2010)
Theoharis, Jeanne. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. (Beacon Press, 2013)

ADVERTISEMENT