Rosa Parks

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SWBAT examine why Rosa Parks is considered the mother of the Civil Rights Movement.

Big Idea

Students will gain an understanding of why Rosa Parks is considered the mother of the Civil Rights Movement.


1 minutes


14 minutes

To begin the lesson, I select 3 students to role play the scene of Rosa Parks being asked by a white bus driver to give up her seat to a white man and her refusing.  I then have students to ask Rosa Parks questions.  They ask her why did she refuse to give up her seat to the white man.  The student playing Rosa Parks responds that she was tired, ready, and willing to go to jail in order to help black people gain equal rights.

A Bus Ride into History

20 minutes

We begin reading a non-fiction text titled "The Mother of a Movement," a Scholastic News magazine article.  (Because you need a subscription to Scholastic in order to access the article, I have attached another Scholastic article which was published and accessible on the web for free.)  Had Rosa Parks lived, she would now be over 100 years old.  I tell them that a mother is one who gives birth, teaches, and protects her children.  I explain to them that Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus helped birth or start the Civil Rights Movement.  Through her defiance Rosa Parks teaches us how to stand up for our rights in a non-violent manner.  She protects the dream of equal rights for all people by participating in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  A boycott is a type of protest in which people refuse to use a service or buy a product.  During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, black people united to walk, take cabs, and carpool rather than ride buses.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott crippled the city of Montgomery, Alabama economically.  It lasted for more than a year - for 381 days.  I have students to take turns reading sections of the magazine article.  We discuss Tier 2 vocabulary as we read (i.e., defiance, boycott, segregation, U.S. Supreme Court, Civil Rights Movement).  Afterward, we discuss text-based questions (see the attached Powerpoint).

A Time to End Segregation

20 minutes

Embedded as a sidebar in "The Mother of a Movement" Scholastic News magazine article is a section called "An End to Segregation."  This section chronicles major events in U.S. history relative to the military, schools, and restaurants.  During this portion of the lesson, I provide students with a blank timeline and ask them to list 5 major years and events relative to the Civil Rights Movement.  I remind students that a timeline goes in chronological order from the earliest event to the latest event.  I allowed students to use the Scholastic News magazine as well as the Internet.  Students listed such events as: 1948 - President Harry S. Truman signed an order that ended segregation in the U.S. military; 1954 - Brown v. Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were illegal; 1955 - Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man; 1956 - U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation on public buses; 1960 - first lunch counter sit-in.


5 minutes

To close the lesson, I go back to the title of the article - "The Mother of a Movement."  I ask students to explain to me why Rosa Parks is considered the Mother a a Movement.  They tell me that it was her refusing to give up her seat to a white man that really started the Civil Rights Movement.  I tell them they are correct, it was from that point that the Civil Rights Movement really began to gain momentum, especially with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Black people united like never before to cause an economic shutdown of the Montgomery buses and get a law changed.  This was eye opening to see how a non-violent, organized, economic protest could cause a law to be changed.  I also explained to my students that because Rosa Parks helped black people to gain equal rights that impacted all people of color gaining equal rights in the U.S.A.  I also informed them that Rosa Parks was not the only person who fought non-violently for equal rights for people of color, there were many people who worked together and some lost their lives so that our nation would indeed be "home of the free."