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Rosa Parks Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Shelly Merrell

Shelly has a Master's of Education. Most recent professional experience is an educational diagnostician. Prior, she taught for 8 years.

Rosa Parks was an ordinary girl who became a legendary woman. Her passion for equality led her to take a stand for fairness for all people. In this lesson, we will have a brief overview of her life and influence.

Who Was Rosa Parks?

Rosa Parks (born Feb. 4, 1913) was an African-American woman living during a very difficult time in American history. In the 1950s, she lived in Montgomery, Alabama, which was a place that separated black people from white people. Separating people for any reason such as race or religion is known as segregation. She and black friends weren't allowed to do many things that white people were able to do.

Young Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

Parks was a volunteer for the the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The NAACP was a group of people who wanted the black people to be treated the same as white people. This fight for equality was important to Parks and millions of other African-Americans.

Standing (or Sitting) for a Cause

On Dec. 5, 1955, Parks boarded a city bus. She noticed an empty seat near the front of the bus and sat down. This doesn't seem like a big deal, does it? It was actually a very big deal in the 1950s! Rosa broke the law with this small gesture. You see, during this period of time, black people were required to sit in the back of the bus, and only white people could sit near the front.

Segregation laws required the separation of races in many parts of the community, such as restaurants, schools, and churches. The bus driver asked Parks to relocate to the back of the bus and give her seat to a white man. Parks wouldn't move. She wanted to be treated equally.

By not complying with the request of the bus driver, she was making a statement that she was no longer going to accept black people being treated as though they were less important. She made a strong impression on the witnesses as she remained silent in her front seat, even as the police were called. She was arrested for breaking the law, but her bravery gave other people courage.

Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus.
Rosa Parks

Changing History

The African-American community of Montgomery was outraged by Parks' arrest. But the anger went deeper: African-Americans were in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, a fight against the unfairness that bestowed on the black community. Parks inspired other Civil Rights activists to take action!

African-Americans of Montgomery Alabama boycotted the bus system. Boycott means to refuse to buy, use, or participate in something as a way of protesting. The boycott lasted over a year and crippled the bus system. In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation could no longer take place on Alabama's public bus systems. This led to an even greater victory. Finally in 1964, discrimination in all public places was outlawed by the Civil Rights Act.

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