Rosa Parks was not only an influential figure in her own time, she also contributed to a fundamental change in US society.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born in the state of Alabama on February 4, 1913. She was born into a society where segregation of colored people was common in many everyday activites. It could be separate sections in buses, separate schools, rest rooms and drinking fountains.
At the age of 42, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white person, even though the bus driver commanded her to do so. This took place in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks was arrested, an event that ignited sparks of discontent, and resulted in a massive bus boycott in Montgomery. This boycott lasted until December 20, 1956, when the US Supreme Court decided that laws allowing segregated buses were unconstitutional.
Numerous other activists protested in the same way as Rosa Parks did. She became a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Parks collaborated with leaders in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), among them Martin Luther King Jr. Later in life Rosa Parks moved to Detroit, and died there in 2005. She received several honorary awards for her efforts and influence.
Pick one of the tasks and write a longer text.
Find out more about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and write a text where you explain why it was so important.
Write a text where you discuss whether the election of Barack Obama for US President in 2008 means that racism is a thing of the past in the USA.
Martin Luther King Jr. held the speech "I Have a Dream" on 28. August 1963. Write a text where you present and analyse the speech.
The Statue of Liberty was completed in 1886. On a plaque inside it we find the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazerus. Read the poem and write a text where you explain what ideal the poem expresses, and discuss whether the United States has ever been able to live up to that ideal.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Pick one of the tasks and prepare an oral presentation.
- Present the NAACP and discuss their significance in the civil rights movement.
- Present two people who were important in the civil rights movement. Explain what they fought for and what they achieved.
- Langston Hughes is one of the most influential African-American writers. Present some of his work and explain why his poems were important for the civil rights movement. Langston Hughes – The African American Poet
Pick one of the tasks to find out more about. Present what you find out in a group.
What is systemic racism? Is there evidence of systemic racism in the United State?
What is the Black Lives Matter movement?
Compare the way President Donald Trump and representatives of the Republican Party reacted to the Black Lives Matter protests with how they reacted to the storming of Congress on 6. January 2021. What are the main differences?