Resources for Teaching Outside the Textbook About Rosa Parks

Selected resources for teaching outside the textbook about Rosa Parks and the causes she was involved with.


A collection of lessons for middle and high school classrooms based on the book and/or film, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Some of the lessons focus on why Rosa Parks is so widely misunderstood — and what this says about national myths, histories, and memorialization. Others take a deeper dive into a particular event or topic.

Digital Collections and Animations

Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (Website) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks Website
A well-organized collection of archival sources including Rosa Parks’ papers at the Library of Congress. Many of the people and events referenced by Jeanne Theoharis are described in more detail on the site, such as the Scottsboro Nine, E. D. Nixon and the Montgomery NAACP, Highlander Folk School, Claudette Colvin, Black Power, and more.

Transportation Protests: 1841 to 1966 by Julian Hipkins III and David Busch

The struggle for the desegregation of transportation has a long history in the United States. Here is a list of dozens of key individuals and organizations who took a stand against segregated transit.

Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words digital collection and exhibition from the Library of Congress

Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Animated VersionFull speech audio and text

Mapping Inequality A set of maps that illustrate the discriminatory New Deal-era housing policies that fueled generations of urban inequality.

Voices of Freedom Outside the South: Oral Histories from Black Perspectives.

Detroit Under Fire Detailed history of police brutality in Detroit


The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks directed by Johanna Hamilton and Yoruba Richen. Produced by Soledad O’Brien.
This documentary sheds light on Rosa Parks’ extensive organizing, radical politics, and lifelong dedication to justice.
Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1985 produced by Henry Hampton. Blackside.
Comprehensive documentary on the Civil Rights Movement in the South, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Books for K-12 and Background Reading for Adults

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis

Young adult version of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis, adapted with Brandy Colbert

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito

Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance by Mia Bay

The Strange Careers of the Jim Crow North: Segregation and Struggle Outside of the South edited by Brian Purnell and Jeanne Theoharis with Komozi Woodard

Booklists with many titles for K-12, including picture books and chapter books for young readers:

Black Panthers


March on Washington

Montgomery Bus Boycott


Rosa Parks Highlander School | Zinn Education Project

Ten Ways to Teach Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis and Say Burgin, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

How History Got the Rosa Parks Story Wrong by Jeanne Theoharis, The Washington Post

Pitting Rosa Parks against Claudette Colvin distorts history by Jeanne Theoharis and Say Burgin

Photo on left: Rosa Parks at a desegregation workshop at Highlander Folk School six months before the boycott. Also in photo: Septima Poinsette Clark, F. D. Patterson, and C. H. Parrish. Credit: Civil Rights Digital Library.


Jeremiah Reeves was indicted at 16-years-old for the rape of a white woman, a confession he made under the threat of death. Jeanne Theoharis noted that, “There are many, many strands that bring people to the point that they get to launch this 13-month boycott, and certainly one of those is Jeremiah Reeves’ conviction and sitting on death row until he gets to be old enough to executed.”

Rosa Parks exchanged letters with Jeremiah while he was jailed and helped him to get his poetry published in the Birmingham World.

Joan Little (left) was tried for murder for the 1974 stabbing death of one of her jailers. There was an international campaign for her freedom. Long committed to justice for Black women who had been raped or assaulted, Parks was one of the founders of the Joanne Little Defense Committee in Detroit. Read more at the Rosa Parks Biography website.
Pies from Nowhere (Book Cover) | Zinn Education Project

More individuals connected to the life and work of Rosa Parks are:

Anne Braden | Johnnie Rebecca Daniels Carr

Septima Clark | Claudette Colvin

Virginia Foster Durr | Georgia Gilmore

Pauli Murray | E. D. Nixon

Raymond Parks | Bayard Rustin

Malcolm X


March 25, 1931: Scottsboro Nine

Nov. 27, 1955: Rosa Parks Attends Meeting About Emmett Till

Dec. 1, 1955: Rosa Parks Refuses to Give Up Her Seat

Sept. 1, 1956: Clinton Desegregation Crisis

Dec. 20, 1956: Montgomery Bus Boycott Prevails

Aug. 30, 1967: People’s Tribunal in Detroit


The Jim Crow North episode Teaching Hard History podcast

Reframing the Movement episode Teaching Hard History podcast

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