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Civil Rights Leader Rosa Parks Dies



Subject(s) Social Studies --Civics --Current Events --History ----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

The person many call "the mother of the civil rights movement" died on October 24.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below.

  • Many people consider Rosa Parks to be a hero.
  • Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks knew one another.
  • One of the most important events in American history took place in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to ride the buses for 3 months.

    News Words

    Introduce the words in the News Word Box on the students' printable news page. Have students use one of those words to complete each sentence below:

  • If you break the law, the police might _____ you. (arrest)
  • Is it _____ to copy material that you find on the Internet? (legal)
  • _____ are the rights that to belong to all citizens by law. (Civil Rights)
  • Jack _____ the free tickets to the game because he already had plans for Friday night. (refused)
  • Are you _____ that the answer to that math problem is 12? (certain)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this week's news story Civil Rights Leader Rosa Parks Dies.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:
  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.
  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.
  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

  • More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.

  • 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks' famous bus ride. Parks was 42 years old at the time of the ride and the boycott.
  • Did you know that Rosa Parks was not the first African-American woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery? Before that day, other African-American women had been arrested. But Rosa Parks probably became famous because she was well known and respected in Montgomery's African-American community. She worked as a seamstress and as secretary to the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
  • History books often say that Parks refused to give up her seat because she was very tired after a long day's work. But she has said that was not the case at all. "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in," she said.
  • The first rows of seats in every bus in Montgomery were reserved for white people. If those seats were filled and a white person got on, the law said that a black person had to give up his or her seat. Black people also had to get on the bus through the back door.
  • The bus boycott was organized at Martin Luther King's church, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Almost a year after the boycott began, the Supreme Court declared Alabama's bus segregation laws to be illegal. On December 20, 1956, the city and the bus company were forced to comply. The very next morning, Dr. King and the Reverend Glen Smiley, a white minister, shared the front seat of a public bus.
  • While many call Parks "the mother of the civil rights movement," Parks was always uncomfortable with that label. "Four decades later I am still uncomfortable with the credit given to me for starting the bus boycott. I would like [people] to know I was not the only person involved. I was just one of many who fought for freedom."

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it.

  • Many people consider Rosa Parks to be a hero. (true)
  • Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks knew one another. (true)
  • One of the most important events in American history took place in Montgomery, Alabama. (true)
  • Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to ride the buses for 3 months. (false, they boycotted the city's buses for 13 months)

    You might follow-up that activity with some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • In what year did Rosa Parks refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus? (1955)
  • How long did the Montgomery bus boycott last? (13 months)
  • How old was Rosa Parks when she died? (92 years old)

    Write the following sentences on strips of paper. Have students sequence them in the order in which they happened. Variation: Write the sentences on a chart and have students copy them in the correct sequence. (The numbers in parentheses indicate the correct sequence.) If you teach young students, you might limit this activity to the sentences numbered 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7.

  • A white man got on the bus. (3)
  • Black people started boycotting the buses in Montgomery. (8)
  • Rosa Parks died at age 92. (10)
  • Rosa sat in a section of the bus set aside for African-Americans. (2)
  • Rosa Parks got on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. (1)
  • The bus driver called the police. (6)
  • Rosa refused to give up her seat. (5)
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation on Alabama's buses was illegal. (9)
  • There were no seat left in the white section of the bus, so the bus driver asked Rosa to move. (4)
  • Rosa was arrested and taken to jail. (7)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News questions that appear on the students' news page.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Role play. Set up six rows of chairs; four chairs in a row, two chairs either side of an aisle. Let the first 12 chairs represent the "white section" of the bus on which Rosa Parks rode. Seat a student in each of the 24 chairs. Another student can act as driver, and another student will act as the white man who got on the bus. Re-enact the events of December 1, 1955.

    Rosa's bus. Students use a diagram of the Montgomery bus on which Parks was a passenger to complete the activity called Rosa Parks Changed the Rules.

    Language arts. Have students find the ten errors of grammar, spelling, or punctuation in the activity Montgomery Bus Boycott.


    Use one or more of the above activities as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-USH.K-4.1 Living and Working together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
    NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
    GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)

    See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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