Rosa Parks was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement in America. On the 1st of December 1955 she made history when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. At that time in America, white people and black people were not treated equally; one of the many differences was that they had to use different parts of the bus. Black people were expected to stand if a white person needed a seat.
When Parks was arrested and fined for her actions, Civil Rights activists organised a bus boycott, which meant that black people stopped using the buses. After a year, the city changed the law and racial segregation on buses was no longer allowed.
Teach your children about Rosa Parks using our handy topic guide!
- Use the ideas in this lesson plan to help children think about discrimination and to write a letter to a public figure.
- Discuss what changes you would like to see in your community. How might you achieve them?
- Look at the image of the Rosa Parks memorial in Washington DC. Why do we build memorials? Which memorials are close to you? Research a memorial in your community.
- Write a newspaper report of the incident.
- Try this interesting idea for stimulating writing; Using the famous picture of Parks on a bus, help the children to imagine that they were there by adding their own image.
- Make a fact file about Rosa Parks’ life.
- Try this idea for a pop art portrait.
- The US Postal Service released a Rosa Parks stamp in 2013. Look at the image here. Design a stamp commemorating the life and contribution of someone who stood up for their beliefs.
- Write a playscript and act out the incident on the bus.
- Make your own bus with this simple idea.
- Who was Rosa Parks? This resource from the BBC covers Parks’ part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- This ready made assembly encourages children to think about the story of Rosa Parks.
- The Library of Congress Rosa Parks Gallery has images of original documents that could be used as primary source material.
- This site has several reading activities and online quizzes about Parks.
Rosa Parks Facts
- Rosa Parks was born in Alabama, USA, on the 4th of February 1913.
- Parks’ father worked as a carpenter and her mother was a teacher.
- Before she refused to give up her seat on the bus, Parks had joined an organisation campaigning for an end to racial discrimination.
- Parks’ arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott; from the date of her trial, African Americans in the city of Montgomery refused to use the bus. This protest went on for over a year, and cost the bus company a lot of money: 75% of bus users in the city were black.
- On the 50th anniversary of Parks’ arrest, seats on buses in many American cities were left empty in her honour.
The Rosa Parks story
Rosa Parks tells the story of her life.
Running time: 11:28
The Rosa Parks Song
A great Horrible Histories song!
Running time: 3:04
I Am Rosa Parks
Children can read along as they watch this biographical video.
Running time: 14:50
The Life of Rosa Parks
This short video is a good introduction to learning about Rosa Parks.
Running time: 4:57
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