Tuesday, February 5, 2013


 February 4, 2013 would have been Rosa Park’s 100th birthday and on that day the  U.S. Post Service revealed the new Rosa Parks commemorative stamp.  

I wonder what she would think about our world today.  I wonder where she would choose to “sit” today. Which cause, which issue, which injustice would cause her to “not be moved”?

Many textbooks, movies and other media, tell us that Rosa Parks was “tired” the day she refused to move from her seat.

In her own words in Rosa Parks, My Story, she indicates she was not physically tired, at least no more than usual, but that she was “tired of giving in to white people….. tired of being pushed around.”

Parks said is also quoted in  The Thunder of Angels, as saying, “When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and orders us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”

When we say she was simply tired we ignore her political awareness, her activism, and  her agency.  Students are rarely taught that she was active in the local movement  for civil rights in Montgomery, that she was the secretary of the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP at the time of the now famous bus incident, or that there had been other folks arrested prior to her arrest, including 15-year-old Claudette Colvin.    Why didn't  the boycott start after these prior arrests?   

The civil rights movement had been waiting for someone known in the community, beyond reproach-- someone who would be able to follow through with court case(s) which would follow, with the appeals… with all that would come after.

The Montgomery boycott began the day of her trial of her first trial on December 5, 1955.

Over the years there have been many books published for both children and adults, about Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement of which she has become a national symbol.

 You may want to read one or several to examine the perspectives presented.  Is Parks presented as “tired”?  Is she presented as making a conscious decision to act?  How are other characters, such as the bus driver, police, other riders portrayed?

Books for Children


Books for Adults

Today’s Deeper Writing Possibility

The bus on which Rosa Parks was riding the day of her arrest is now on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The museum celebrated a  National Day of Courage to honor her 100th birthday on February 4, 2013.  According to a report on this event on NPR, many who  visited and actually sat on the bus, experienced great emotion and left with much on which to reflect.

As you reflect on the life and legacy of Rosa Parks, you may approach your writing in several ways:

Write about the events on the bus that day from the perspective of Rosa Park.

Then write about the same events from the perspective of the bus driver, the arresting policeman, a fellow bus rider, a journalist,  one of the previously arrested bus riders, or another involved person.

Write about the events from your own perspective and your current vantage point in history.

What did you learn about your own thinking as your reflected on this important moment in history?

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