Rosa Parks is one of the most famous symbols of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. In an act of protest she refused to give up her seat to a white person and move to the back of the bus, even though it was mandated by the Jim Crow laws. Her brave actions inspired many African-Americans who joined together and were led by Martin Luther King, Jr., organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott which began on December 5, 1955. Their peaceful protest ultimately met with success nearly one year later, on November 13, 1956, when the Supreme Court ruled segregation laws unconstitutional.
Rosa Park’s story will undoubtedly be taught in your child’s classroom; use this activity to promote additional dialogue about racial segregation and its impact on black individuals living in America during the 1870’s through the 1960’s. The writing and discussion that accompanies this activity will raise awareness of this era and encourage empathy for those who experienced unethical discriminaton. Your child will get valuable practice writing in complete sentences, articulating thoughts on paper, and developing oral presentation skills.
What You Need:
- Age appropriate book about Rosa Parks (Try Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney)
What You Do:
- Together with your child, read about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Discuss your child’s opinions about Rosa Park's actions and the boycott in general. Ask your child to think about the following questions:
- Why were blacks and whites segregated in the first place?
- The segregation laws were supposed to create “separate but equal” status for black Americans. Was it fair to make blacks sit in the back of the bus?
- Did Rosa Parks do the right thing by not vacating her seat to a white person? What would your child have done in Rosa’s situation?
- What would life be like today if segregation were still legal? How would it affect your child’s daily routine such as school life, friendships, extracurricular activities, the neighborhood he lives in, and family get-togethers?
- Ask your child to write a couple of paragraphs describing his feelings about how Rosa Parks and other African-Americans were treated during that time.
- After he gets his thoughts on paper, ask your child read his response out loud to you.