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Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up
 

Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up

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In Linda Gorham’s story Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Linda personalizes the words and action in a story of the famed Rosa Parks. The lesson plan explores the many other heroes ...

In Linda Gorham’s story Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Linda personalizes the words and action in a story of the famed Rosa Parks. The lesson plan explores the many other heroes of the civil rights movement who “sat down’ to stand up for justice. Self-worth, dignity and courage come alive.

Download this lesson plan including audio story excerpts at:
http://www.racebridgesforschools.com/wp/?p=307

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    Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Rosa Parks : One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up Document Transcript

    • TEACHER’S GUIDE INTRODUCTION Rosa Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. Her action galvanized the growing Civil Rights Movement and led to the successful Montgomery bus boycott. But even before her defiant act and the resulting boycott, Ms. Parks was dedicated to racial justice and equality. She remained a source of inspiration and, most importantly, an activist for the remainder of her life. MATERIALS NEEDED The audio version or text of Linda Gorham’s story, Rosa Parks: One of Many Who Sat Down to Stand Up (There are slight differences between the written text and the spoken version of this story. It is preferable to listen to the story, using the text as a way to remember story details while working in class. The MP3 track and the text are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use only.) Highly recommended – become familiar with some of the resources mentioned below. PURPOSE In this lesson plan, your students will: • Become more familiar with the Rosa Parks’ story • Place Ms. Parks’ protest within the larger context of her supportive family and community and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s • Examine the motives and practices of bigotry and institutional racism © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 1 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS • Experience a recreation of some of the feelings, challenges and decisions facing people in this country as they lived in a system of legalized segregation and discrimination • Understand the extent of the bravery of those who stood up to discrimination given the ignorance and violence of the times. STANDARDS OF LEARNING While School Standards differ from state to state, some standardized goals this lesson plan covers are: Social Science Learning Standards • Understand political systems, with an emphasis on the United States • Understand social systems, with an emphasis on the United States • Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of the state, the United States and other nations • Connect past events to present realities A BRIEF TIMELINE OF THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT May 21, 1954 Professor Jo Ann Robinson, president of the Women’s Political Council made up of black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama writes to the mayor of Montgomery to warn of the possibility of a bus boycott. Sept. 1, 1954 Martin Luther King Jr. becomes pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. March 2, 1955 African American Claudette Colvin, 15, is arrested after allegedly violating bus segregation laws. Oct. 21, 1955 African American Mary Louise Smith, 18, is arrested after allegedly violating bus segregation laws. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 2 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS Dec. 1, 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested after allegedly violating bus segregation laws. She is charged with disorderly conduct. Dec. 5, 1955 Rosa Parks is convicted and fined in Montgomery city court. A one-day boycott of city buses results in about 90 percent of regular black riders staying off the buses. The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) is formed by black leaders who elect the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as their president. Several thousand black citizens attend the first MIA mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church, where they overwhelmingly support continuing the bus boycott. Jan. 30, 1956 At the urging of attorney Fred D. Gray, the executive board of the MIA votes to support the filing of the federal lawsuit to challenge city and state bus segregation laws. That night King’s house is bombed with his wife and their infant daughter inside, but they are not injured. An angry group of Blacks, some of them armed, appears ready to react with violence, but King calms the crowd by speaking to them from his porch of peace and “friendship” with Whites. Feb. 1, 1956 A class-action lawsuit is filed challenging the constitutionality of laws requiring segregation on buses. Feb. 10, 1956 A White Citizens Council rally in Montgomery is packed with thousands who applaud city officials for fighting bus desegregation and talk about teaching Blacks “a lesson.” March 28, 1956 A National Deliverance Day of Prayer to support the bus boycott takes place with several cities outside the South taking part. April 24, 1956 Bus companies in more than a dozen Southern cities stop the practice of segregated seating in response to the Supreme Court decision. But the Montgomery mayor declares that city bus segregation will continue and the police threaten to arrest bus drivers who disobey segregation laws. Aug. 25, 1956 The home of Lutheran minister Robert Graetz, a white member of the MIA board, is bombed. No one is injured. Rosa Parks helps with the clean up. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 3 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS Dec. 17, 1956 The U.S. Supreme Court rejects the Montgomery City Commission’s appeal of the Browder v. Gayle decision to desegregate public transportation. Dec. 21, 1956 Black citizens desegregate Montgomery buses after the 381-day boycott. The bus company resumes full service. For a more complete timeline, including the violence and continued challenges that followed the bus desegregation go to: http://www.montgomeryboycott.com/timeline.htm © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 4 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS LESSON PLAN YOUR STORYTELLER This lesson plan and student handout are meant to be used in conjunction with the audio download and text of this excerpt from Linda Gorham’s longer story, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Linda Gorham is a Chicago-based storyteller. She tours internationally and is known for personal tales, stories of African American Heroes called “I Shape Freedom,” and folktales – updated with “attitude.” Linda has programs for all ages. Find out more at: www.LindaGorham.com. In debriefing the Rosa Parks’ story: COMMENTS = examples of remarks you might make to your students QUESTIONS = the type of discussion questions to ask THE STORY QUESTION: Rosa Parks has been called the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Why? Were there other people who refused to give up their seats before Rosa Parks? COMMENT: Yes, many people refused to give up their seats before December 1, 1955 when Ms. Parks refused. Perhaps four women are best known – Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Claudette Colvin – because it was their legal case that challenged the Montgomery, Alabama’s segregated public transportation system and led to the Supreme Court case that struck down segregation on buses. Two of those plaintiffs were teenagers - Claudette Colvin, 15, and Mary Louise Smith, 18. In fact, in 1943 in Montgomery, 12 years before Rosa Parks’ famous incident she herself had refused to exit a bus when ordered to by the bus driver. Back then, people of color got on the front of the bus to deposit their fare. Then, they had to get off the bus and walk to the back door of the bus to enter the bus again and sit in the back rows. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 5 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS One day, Rosa put her money in the till and then walked down the aisle of the bus to the back section marked “Colored.” The bus driver charged after her and raised his hand to hit her. Instead, he ordered Ms. Parks off the bus. She exited but did not get back on through the back door. She let the bus leave without her as she swore to never ride with that driver again. It turns out this was the very same man who was driving the bus that day in December 1955 when Ms. Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. Ms. Parks was sitting in the “Colored” section, but the bus was crowded. The bus driver demanded that the African Americans in the first two seats in the “Colored” section move. When the man next to her complied and moved further back in the bus, Ms. Parks simply slid over to the window seat. The bus driver stormed down the aisle, yelled at Rosa and threatened arrest. That’s when Rosa recognized the driver. Still, Rosa refused to move. Interestingly enough, after the Supreme Court decision of 1956 that ended segregation, it was this very same driver who drove the bus when Rosa Parks mounted the bus steps and sat in the front seat for the very first time as cameras rolled and the passengers applauded. Many people had defied segregation since its inception as they had sabotaged the system of slavery and other forms of discrimination in the past. However, when Rosa Parks made her stand in 1955 many forces intersected at the same moment – including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. becoming a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Parks’ unquestionable character and calm demeanor, and the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. People were able to say as a group “enough is enough” and the many previous individual acts of bravery snowballed into a movement of hundreds of thousands. Rosa Parks’ act of courage led to the Montgomery bus boycott that led to the eventual Supreme Court decision to use the 1954 Brown vs. Education verdict that “separate is not equal” as precedent to rule segregated public transportation unconstitutional in 1956. ACTIVITIES: Have students do reports on lesser-known contributors to the Civil Rights Movement. For example, students could write essays about why they think this person should be included in their history books. Have students investigate some of the ways stories of the Civil Rights Movement have been misunderstood or manipulated. For instance, in an interview right after her arrest, Ms. Parks mentioned that she was coming home from work the day of her action and that she was “tired.” Some have misconstrued this statement and reported that she only refused to get up because she was tired, not that she was making some kind of statement. (Some reports translated too tired into “too lazy”) © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 6 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS QUESTIONS: Why would these stories of racial struggle be twisted or not known and even missing from our history books? Whose account gets the most airtime or winds up in the history books? THE TIMES COMMENT: Perhaps one of the most famous images of Jim Crow segregation is the separate water fountains – one marked “Whites Only” and one marked “Colored.” But the separation and discrimination was much more widespread than where and how people got their water. Under Jim Crow laws, people of color couldn’t go to the park, try on clothes in a department store, sit in the same restaurants or walk on the same sidewalk as Whites, go into a store and buy a hammer or an ice cream sundae, depend on the police force to protect them and, of course, ride at the front of the bus. EXERCISE: Ask students to keep a diary of their daily activities for several days. A simple listing will do: “Went to the grocery store. Went to football practice. Went to class. Drove down Main Street. Bought a cookie at Maples’s. Stopped for a burger at Shelly’s Drive-In.” Then, have them imagine that Jim Crow segregation was still in force and they are part of the group who is treated as outsiders. Have them rewrite a more detailed journal entry as if they couldn’t participate in the activities from the previous days. For example, “I walked by Maple’s Candy Store and looked into the window. I really wanted to buy a piece of fudge but I knew I couldn’t go in.” Or “Went to get a hamburger at Shelly’s Drive-In and had to go to the separate window for my group. I swear they’re giving us the meat that’s starting to go bad.” Have the students imagine they are being treated as second-class citizens at every turn and fill out their scenarios. Some of their descriptions may not be completely accurate as to what life in the South (and in the North) was like during legalize segregation but, for now, focus on their empathetic feelings. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 7 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS QUESTIONS: What does it feel like to have separate stores, schools, transportation, driving patterns and such? Does it feel as if things are equal? How would you feel if this were your real life? What would you want to do about it? ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES: Have students do a report on how their scenarios are accurate or inaccurate descriptions of life under Jim Crow laws. Look into all institutions of daily life – medical, judicial, law enforcement, housing, as well as schools and transportation. Have student compare segregation “down South” and “up North.” Have students report on the great migration as people of color fled southern segregation for the North and the economic base of the South changed from sharecropping and other manual farm labor to engine-driven farming. QUESTIONS: Was life better or worse in the North? How were people welcomed and how were they treated? How were peoples’ lives similar or different as they moved to northern states? THE RISKS COMMENT: Jim Crow segregation and the climate of hate during the 1950’s in America wasn’t just about what you couldn’t do, but what could be done to you. Black people regularly experienced harassment, beatings and even death at the hands of the police who were supposed to serve them. When the boycott continued and some Whites began to figure out that this “uprising” wasn’t going away, they called a rally at the Alabama Coliseum and pledged that “mighty whitey” would rise again. They would take back their power; they would show those Blacks who thought they were better than the Whites. Speakers at this rally openly threatened Ms. Parks saying that they would “teach her a lesson.” After that the threats turned to more deliberate and violent actions. Ms. Parks was fired from her job as a seamstress. Gangs of Whites rode through Black © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 8 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS neighborhoods spewing hate and racial slurs. As African Americans rode into the white business district or neighborhoods to work, they were greeted by flying bricks and even balloons filled with urine. The Ku Klux Klan marched through a Black housing project and set crosses on fire and some of the buildings as well. Ms. Parks received repeated death threats. Several people’s homes were bombed including Dr. King’s. QUESTIONS: Given this climate of violence would you have had the courage to do what Rosa Parks and the other people of the movement did? What do you think the white people who resisted the Civil Rights Movement were thinking and feeling? Why did they resist the changes? What were they afraid of? What did they perceive they would lose? How did they explain to themselves that they, not African Americans, were the victims and the ones being treated unfairly? Many Whites thought things were unfair in this country and supported the Civil Rights Movement yet were afraid to say so to their own spouses, families or neighbors. When have you felt afraid to share your beliefs? What is peer pressure and why do we bow to it? If you were white back then, do you think you could have gone against segregation and supported the movement? COMMENT: When Dr. King’s home was bombed in January of 1956, hundreds of people stood outside his home with baseball bats, pitchforks and even guns. Dr. King arrived home, confirmed that his wife and child were safe and then stood out on his front porch, raised his hands and addressed the crowd. He said that all the people who had boycotted the buses and walked to work all those days would have “walked in vain” if the movement gave into violence. He called for “Peace” and talked about reaching out “in friendship” to Whites and being the conscience of the country. QUESTIONS: If someone bombed your house or the home of someone you knew and admired, would your thoughts turn to violence? Do you think you could take the non-violent path as Dr. King and the movement did that night? What does it mean to be the “conscience of the country” and was this tactic effective? © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 9 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS THE SUPPORT COMMENT: While it is important to celebrate the courage of people like Rosa Parks, it’s also essential to recognize that the Civil Rights Movement was a movement, a ground swell of thousands of people coming together each doing their part. No hero ever acts alone. - Young people walked through the night passing out thousands of fliers to announce the bus boycott. - - Lawyers came forward to defend Ms. Parks. - - Funeral directors picked up people in their hearses to give them rides to work (Remember, because the neighborhoods were segregated and many African Americans only found employment in white neighborhoods, they had to walk miles and miles to get to work.) - Thousands chipped in what little money they had to buy station wagons to haul people. - Others donated used bicycles so people could ride to work and school. - The lone Black radio station bravely made announcements about meetings and fundraisers. - People held bake sales and yard sales to raise money for the movement. - White people were involved in the boycott as well. White pastors offered their churches for meetings and rallies. - White housewives snuck out of their houses, took their cars without telling their families and picked up people who needed rides. - White people from other parts of the country came to Alabama to march alongside African Americans. - At breakfast tables, on those long walks into town, while preparing dinner or tucking young ones into bed, Black people bolstered each other’s spirits and spread the word through song, sermon and whispered affirmation: “You deserve to be treated as a full human being and citizen! You are as good as anyone else! You are somebody!” Ms. Parks herself said she was inspired to take the action she did because she had previously gone to an integrated civil rights meeting and had seen Blacks and Whites working together for justice for everyone and holding to their beliefs that America could live up to its democratic ideals. QUESTIONS: Would you have been one of the people involved in the movement? How would you have helped? What role do you think you’d have played? © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 10 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS What if your parents were afraid for you and asked you to stay home during the meetings, boycotts and marches? Do you think you could have worked things out with them? Have you ever been involved in an activity where you felt you were part of something bigger than yourself? How did it feel? How can the support of a community lead us to do things we never thought we could do? Is this positive peer pressure or something else? Is there some way you’d like to see the world change for the better? What issues of our time are you drawn to? In what way– small or large – could you play a role to make a positive difference? ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES: Have your student pick another community leader such as Caesar Chavez (Mexican American labor leader and civil right activist), Fannie Lou Hamer (voting rights activist and civil rights leader), Rigoberta Menchu (promoter of indigenous rights in Guatemala and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize), Wilma Mankiller (first female chief of the Cherokee Nation) etc. Students write and perform a piece as Linda Gorham did in her story – imagining the life of that person and telling about the person’s challenges and victories in the first person. CONCLUSION In 1955, in a simple act of defiance, Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama and sparked a boycott of Montgomery’s buses by the city’s 55,000 African Americans. The boycott lasted 381 days and ultimately led to an end to segregation on public transportation throughout the United States. The bravery and idealism shown by Rosa Parks and all the participants of the Civil Rights Movement is one of the greatest American stories of discipline, determination and triumph. RESOURCES: Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks - a film by Hudson & Houston produced by Teaching Tolerance and Tell the Truth Pictures, available through www.TeachingTolerance.org (Highly recommended - Teachers can order the video with viewer’s guide for free) © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 11 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS Freedom Song - a Warner Video, available through www.teachingforchange.org Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders - a Women Make Movies production, available through www.WIMM.com Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen and published by Simon & Schuster Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development published by Teaching for Change, available through www.teachingforrchange.org Putting the Movement Back Into Civil Rights Teaching: A Resource Guide for Classrooms and Communities Co-published by Teaching For Change and Poverty & Race Research Action Council, available through www.teachingforchange.org For free downloadable quizzes, lessons and more resources, visit: www.civilrightsteaching.org and www.teachingtolerance.org (type “Rosa Parks” or “Civil Rights Movement” in the search window) For guidance on teaching Black History go to: http://www.tolerance.org/activity/dos-and-donts-teaching-black-history © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 12 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS STUDENT HANDOUT Story Transcript Note: While the transcripts of the stories follow the main narrative points and meaning of the stories as they are spoken by the storyteller, there are some differences between the written text below and the spoken versions. Storytelling is a living art and changes from telling to telling. This text is a guide. _________________________________________________________________ ROSA PARKS By Linda Gorham If you miss me on the back of the bus And you can’t find me nowhere Come on up to the front of the bus Cause I’ll be riding up there. These words come from a song called “From the Back of the Bus” by Charles Neblett. It was written to commemorate many of the accomplishments African Americans made in this country during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Among them was the simple right to sit anywhere on a public bus. You see, in the United States, for 68 years, there was a system of laws called “Separate but Equal.” Those laws kept the races separate and treated African Americans as second class citizens. Separate neighborhoods, separate playgrounds, separate water fountains, separate schools and more. It was clearly separate. It was nothing close to equal! Especially on the buses. The front rows of the buses were reserved for white people. African Americans were forced to sit on the back. If the white section got full, the African Americans would be forced to get up and give the standing white people their seats. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 13 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS But this system began to change in 1955. In December of that year, in Montgomery, Alabama, 42 year old Rosa Parks was ordered to STAND and give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Rosa Parks refused. • Her determination stood up. • Her dignity stood up. • Her commitment to ending bus segregation stood up. • Her inner spirit and soul stood up, so that Rosa Parks could make the difficult decision to remain sitting down. This is her story. I’m Rosa Parks. When that bus driver walked back toward me waving his hands and yelling, “Make it light on yourself, give up that seat,” I was ready. I had prepared for that moment for a long time. And when the policeman came, I asked him, “Why do you push us around?” I remember his words exactly. He said, “I don’t know, but the law is the law and you are under arrest.” It was just last December. December 1, 1955 to be exact. The news reports said I was tired and that’s why I didn’t give up my seat. Tired, like I was lazy. Well, I have never been a lazy woman. But yes, I was tired. I was tired of being pushed around. Tired of disrespect for children, women and men just because of the color of their skin. Tired of Jim Crow segregation laws. Tired of being oppressed. You see, my feet were not tired; my soul was.” You know, the United States is supposed to be the “land of equality.” Humph! Seems to me equality only applies if you are white. Well, I too am an American. I too deserve respect. The newspapers wrote that I was just a seamstress. Well, I am a seamstress – actually a tailor. I alter clothes to make them fit people nice. I work downtown at the Montgomery Fair Department Store. But I’m also a volunteer secretary for the Montgomery, Alabama chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We call it the NAACP. It’s an organization of good people, Negro and white, working to change the laws. I’m also the NAACP youth leader. And let me tell you, working on that job, I learned a lot. There wasn’t a meeting that went by when we didn’t talk all of the people who were mistreated on buses, lynched, and murdered. All victims of white hatred. All whose crimes went unpunished even when all the evidence clearly pointed toward the ones who did it. When that 15 year old girl, Claudette Colvin didn’t give up her seat, I was proud of her. Claudette was brave. After one of those NAACP meetings when we discussed what happened to her, I made a personal vow. I decided that I was not going to give up my seat ever again. Now, I rode those buses to work every morning and I rode them home every evening – five days a week – four weeks a month. Each time I sat in the first Negro row waiting and wondering. Each time I told myself, “This could be the day.” It took nine months. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 14 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com
    • ROSA PARKS When that day came, I was ready. That white bus driver walked back toward me. He waved his hand and ordered me to get up. Right then I wrapped my determination around my body like a quilt on a winter night. I felt protected from all the meanness of every white driver I’d seen through the years who had been ugly to me and all the other Negro people. The police came. One policeman picked up my purse. The second one picked up my shopping bag. They arrested me, they led off the bus, and escorted to the squad car. In the car they returned my personal belongings to me. The did not put their hands on me or force me into the car. As they were driving me to the City Hall, one of them asked me, “Why didn’t you stand up when the driver spoke to you? I did not answer. I remained silent all the way to City Hall. After my arrest, the NAACP called for a boycott of the buses to protest. And a few days after my arrest, almost all Negros in Montgomery, Alabama stopped riding the buses. Those who were scared, those who gave up, those who were silent – well they all put aside their fear and their silence and they said enough is enough, “Until the laws change, we won’t ride the buses. There were 17,000 Negros who rode the buses each day. That was over ¾ of the riders. When we boycotted, the bus company lost so much money they had to close down many of their routes. And the boycott wasn’t just one day or one week. That bus boycott lasted more than a year, 381 days. Getting around wasn’t easy. The NAACP set up 300 scheduled car pools, but mostly we walked. Some walked more than an hour and a half each way to work. Through all kinds of weather, we walked. We walked because we believed what we were doing was important. Finally, just recently, after a year of walking, the United States Supreme Court declared segregation on ALL public transportation was illegal. I have to tell you, it still amazes me that it took so long for such a basic right to be granted to Negros. But at least I know that the Negro people of Montgomery, Alabama walked for 381 days so that ALL Negros in the United States of America could sit on any train, any trolley, and any bus, anywhere we pleased. It was not easy, but it was worth it. © 2010 RaceBridges For Schools. This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools, 15 which seeks to provide tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This lesson plan may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact. Story excerpts copyrighted by Linda Gorham (www.LindaGorham.com) are used with permission. Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com