Montgomery Bus Boycott - Civil Rights Movement Kim Johnson

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Montgomery Bus Boycott - Civil Rights Movement Kim Johnson Powered By Docstoc
     Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin
   Rosa Parks- Differing Perspectives

Rosa Parks played a pivotal role in the fight for Civil
 Rights with her involvement in the Montgomery Bus
 Boycott. However, there are multiple perspectives on
 Parks’ role.
Based on children’s book and my own education, I was
 able to generate a list of things that educators often
 focus on while teaching about Rosa Parks and the bus
I thought that I would present this material, along with
 other perspectives on the Montgomery Bus Boycott and
 Rosa Parks’ role.
       Career (viewpoint one)
Rosa Parks was a poor seamstress who:
  Worked long hours
  Often left work tired
No mention of community involvement or job in the
 National Association for the Advancement of Colored
 People (NAACP)
       Career (viewpoint two)
It is true that Rosa Parks worked as a seamstress in a
 department store. However, she was also an active
 community member who was worked as a secretary for
 the National Association for the Advancement of
 Colored People.
Parks was an advocate for desegregation of the
 schools as well as breaking down segregation in other
           Bus Ride (viewpoint one)

Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus.
When asked to move by a white male,
  she refused to give up her seat.
The bus driver asked Rosa to stand so
  the man could have a seat.
Once again Rosa refused to get up, so the bus driver
 called the police to have her arrested.
The police came and arrested Rosa for breaking the
 segregation law that was in place.
         Bus Ride (viewpoint two)
Rosa Parks sat at the front of the “colored section” on
 the bus not initially breaking the law
When a white man was standing, the bus driver
 requested that the four people occupying the row get up.
 Three of the four people did, leaving Rosa Parks as the
 only person in the row
The bus driver asked her to stand up. She refused,
 saying that she was not in an area reserved for whites.
 The bus driver felt as though he had the discretion to
 move the line back, and told Parks he would call the
 police if she did not move. The police were called and
 she was arrested.
      Motivation for refusal to stand
             (viewpoint one)
Tired and angry after a long day of work
Became stubborn when asked to stand
Rosa Parks was defiant due to the conditions of her
There is no mention of Parks acting this way as part
 of a movement or as a way to confront segregation
      Motivation for refusal to stand
             (viewpoint two)
Had issues with bus segregation previously-
 evictions as well as not being allowed on the bus
Conscious action to fight segregation, though it was
 not premeditated
Fed up with the bus policies
Prepared to face the consequences of her actions
Influence on Boycott                   (viewpoint
Other African Americans heard of Rosa Parks’ bus
 incident, and became angry. They decided to
 refuse to ride the bus until everyone could ride the
 bus together.
Civil Rights Movement was born
             Influence on boycott
                (viewpoint two)
Was a plan in the making for a long time
Boycott was seen as a way to achieve racial justice
Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, an African American
 professor was put off a bus for refusing to move
 back in 1949, 6 years before Rosa Parks was
 arrested for remaining in her seat
At this time she wanted to do something about bus
 segregation, but everyone was waiting for a strong
 leader for the movement
                   Claudette Colvin
 Was a fifteen year old who refused to give her seat up on the bus
  nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing
 Spurred by discussions about the injustices African Americans faced
  because of the Jim Crow Laws and discussions of activists
 Shunned by classmates
 Colvin was essentially forgotten
  because she moved and hardly
  ever told her story
 Additionally, NAACP thought that she may
  be a good symbol until they found out that
  she was pregnant at fifteen
Claudette Colvin Influences
Though Colvin did not gain much publicity from her
 case, she was still working to stop segregation
She was the first person to plead not guilty to the
 segregation charges and she asked to go to trial
Additionally, she was one of the four plaintiffs to
 file Browder vs. Gayle, a class action lawsuit against
 segregated seating
Mary Louise Smith
  Arrested 40 days before Rosa Parks for
   failure to relinquish seat for a white man
  Charged with failure to obey segregation
  Was asked to be a plaintiff for the
   Browder vs. Gayle case and accepted
  Later found out that she was considered as
   a symbol for civil rights, but black leaders
   decided against this because they thought
   that her father was a drunk (untrue
         Rosa Parks as symbol
NAACP saw Rosa Parks as someone who has the
 respect of the community- she was the NAACP
She was also seen as someone who was strong and
 would be able to deal with publicity
NAACP president asked her to use her case to
 break down segregation on the bus, and she
 agreed to it
After Parks’ arrest, plans for a one day boycott
 were discussed and pamphlets were distributed
The first day was seen as a success, so there was a
 discussion on whether or not this should be a one
 day boycott, or if it should be extended
The boycott ended 381 days later once the
 segregation on the bus was deemed unconstitutional
           Rosa Parks after the bus
 Lost her job at the department store
 Parks’ husband also lost his job
 Parks and her husband were unable to find other jobs, so they left
  Montgomery and moved to Detroit, Michigan
 Here, Parks worked as a secretary in U.S. Representative John
  Conyer's congressional office
 She also served on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation
  of America
 She also founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-
  Development where children are introduced to civil rights and
  Underground Railroad sites throughout the country
 Parks also had two books published about her life experiences
      Other things to be aware of
Segregation: students should have an understanding of
 de jure segregation that was implemented in the south
 with the Jim Crow Laws.
It is often common practice to refer to Rosa Parks as
 Rosa in children’s books. However, referring to African
 Americans by their first name was a way for white
 people to express superiority over the African Americans.
 African Americans could never refer to a white person
 by their first name.
        Multiple Perspectives
Typically, when students learn about the
 Montgomery Bus Boycott, they learn about Rosa
 Parks as this romanticized character. She was just a
 tired, angry seamstress. However, Rosa Parks was
 more than just this. She was an active community
 member who was fought for justice and was ready
 to fight segregation.
        Implications for teachers
Make sure that things are not just taught as a brief
 overview that leaves out important details
Rosa Parks is often seen as the symbol for the Civil
 Rights Movement, but it is important to discuss the
 importance of others in the fight for civil rights.
 Community involvement played a huge role.
   A&E. (2012). Rosa Parks Bio. Retrieved from bio. True Story website:

   Adler, M. (2009, March 15). Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin. Retrieved from NPR website:

   Barnes, B. (2009, November 25). From Footnote to Fame in Civil Rights History. Retrieved from New York Times website:

   Bredhoff, Stacey, Wynell Schamel, and Lee Ann Potter. "The Arrest Records of Rosa Parks.” Social Education 63, 4 (May/June
    1999): 207-211.

   Cozzens, Lisa. "Brown v. Board of Education." African American History. May 1998).  

   Cozzens, Lisa. "The Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965." African American History. (25 May 1998). 

   Kohl, H. (n.d.). The Politics of Children’s Literature: What’s Wrong with the Rosa Parks Myth. Retrieved from Teaching a
    People’s History: Zinn Education Project website:

   Unheralded Women. (n.d.). Retrieved from Rivers of Change website:

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