Every year students learn about Rosa Parks. Most learn the myth that she was simply tired when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white man. Some may learn that she was involved the NAACP before she refused to move on the bus or that she was not the first to resist Jim Crow seating.
However, the larger story of Rosa Parks offers crucial lessons for young people about a life of activism that is dangerous for the guardians of the status quo.
Mrs. Parks’ life is a tapestry of resistance, including and beyond her brave act on the bus in Montgomery. In fact, she spent more than half her life in Detroit — which Mrs. Parks called “the Northern promised land that wasn’t” — fighting segregation in housing, hospitals, and restaurants; protesting police murders of Black teenagers; organizing against sexual violence; working for Congressman John Conyers and getting to know Malcolm X.
These stories and more are in the young readers’ edition of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Not only do young people find the book a gripping read, they also realize how egregious it is to, as Jeanne Theoharis says, “freeze Rosa Parks on the bus.” Rosa Parks’ life offers students a road map from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.
Join educators in teaching the whole truth about the rebellious Mrs. Parks.
Thanks to a donation of books from Lush Cosmetics in support of teaching truth in history, the Zinn Education Project is offering more than 2,000 sets of five copies of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks to public school teachers, school librarians, and teacher educators, who have a plan for using and promoting the text. Offer limited to the United States. Some sets of 20 copies of the book will also be provided.
To request the books, respond to these questions on the form below
- Offer a description of how you will use these books in your curriculum.
- To help spread the word about the book, we ask recipients to plan to give it visibility. Tell how you might do that. It could be asking students to write reviews for Goodreads or other book platforms, student-created social media promotions for the book, a story from you about student responses to the book, a photo of your class with the book on social media, or other ideas you have.
As long as you meet the criteria and respond to all the questions, as asked, the books will be shipped to you by the publisher. (The other limitation is that we are limiting the requests to 30 per school district.) Note that other than with the publisher, we do not share your contact information.
Here are some tweets and stories from teachers who have already received their books.
Thrilled for the arrival of my new texts care of @ZinnEdProject ! Eager to start the next unit whose question is: How will I change the world? Excited to build knowledge and create a “life’s blueprint” with my kids. @BaltCitySchools @WitWisdomELA @SonjaSantelises @bmoreedchat pic.twitter.com/ewyUllIqaM
— Kyair (@kyairb) April 19, 2022
Huge s/o and thank you to the folks @ZinnEdProject for gifting my students a class set of this incredible book about the *real* Mrs. Rosa Parks! We are engaged in learning about her rebellious spirit, and destroying the myths that reduce her activism to a single stance on a bus. pic.twitter.com/xSwzZ2SkKQ
— Don Dumas (@don_dumas) April 20, 2022
— Abby Kirkland (@CaptainKirkdawg) April 25, 2022
— Rosie Herold (she/her) 📚✌🏽🏳️🌈✊🏾🤖❤️⚛️ (@MsRosie_library) April 26, 2022
Here are the locations where teachers have received sets of the book so far.
The red pins indicate states where anti-history education (“anti-CRT”) legislation has passed and the yellow pins represent states where legislation has been proposed or is moving through state legislature. See a detailed map from Education Week of the legislation.
This may just be one of the most important books about The Civil Rights Movement that I have ever read because it provides a powerful, concrete example of how much we all lose when we are given a narrow and inaccurate account of history. pic.twitter.com/TLVSNWR2lR
— Jess Lifshitz (@Jess5th) May 5, 2022
Not only did this book teach me so much about Mrs. Rosa Parks and her lifelong fight against injustice, but it also illuminated so many truths about The Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for justice today. We will use many pieces of this text in my fifth grade classroom.
— Jess Lifshitz (@Jess5th) May 5, 2022
Talked about equitable grading practices today at @hhps_eagles PD! Excited & encouraged that was put to practice as students in 601 supported each other w/ strengths & growth areas w/ recently written essays care of @ZinnEdProject pic.twitter.com/wdvZvZnumg
— Kyair (@kyairb) May 4, 2022
“They wrote essays based on 1st two chapters. They could see beginnings of a young change agent with Rosa Parks’ rebellious nature & early interactions with racism. They needed to use several pieces of text evidence to support their analysis.” — Kyair Butts #TeachOutsideTextbook
— Zinn Ed Project (@ZinnEdProject) May 5, 2022
Thanks to @ZinnEdProject my @hhps_eagles kids were able to attack RI.7.3 & analyze how events & individuals can influence each other & ideas. The text was “The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks”. They’ll soon present how they’ll change the world. Cc: @karenvaites @SonjaSantelises pic.twitter.com/Uqz8a7dfHV
— Kyair (@kyairb) May 27, 2022
We are pleased that this offer coincides with the release by Peacock later this year of a documentary about Rosa Parks. The film, based on the book by Jeanne Theoharis and produced by Soledad O’Brien Productions, was selected for the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. As soon as the film is available to the public, we’ll post the details.