Rosa Parks is one of the most well-known U.S. women of the 20th century and yet much of what has been taught about her is narrow, limited, and at times wrong. This is changing thanks to the release in 2021 of the young adult book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, and a new film with the same title — both based on the Parks’ biography by Jeanne Theoharis.
The book and the documentary film (produced by Soledad O’Brien Productions and directed by Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton) depict Rosa Parks’ life-long dedication to justice. They chronicle her childhood, her activism before and during the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, her work for Congressman John Conyers in Detroit, and her involvement in causes such as voting rights, anti-apartheid, reparations, fair housing, women’s rights, and the fight against police violence.
To facilitate classroom use of the book and film, the Zinn Education Project is coordinating book distribution and educator film screenings, as well as making a teaching guide for The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks available online. Learn more about these resources below. They are made possible by Soledad O’Brien Productions and funded by The Ford Foundation. Lush Cosmetics and Beacon Press provided additional funding for book distribution.
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.
Stories from the Classroom
Since April of 2022, the Zinn Education Project has shipped 13,000 copies of the young readers’ edition of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks to teachers requesting copies to pair with their history or language arts curriculum.
Here are additional resources to supplement lessons on the book and film, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
Share Your Story
Stories from the classroom can inform and inspire more teachers to teach outside the textbook about Rosa Parks. We invite you to share your story. Selected responses will be posted at the Zinn Education Project website. We’ll send teachers books in appreciation for sending your feedback.
The Zinn Education Project is supported primarily by individuals. Please donate today so that more teachers receive free lessons, books, and workshops on people’s history — like the story of Rosa Parks — that have been misrepresented or omitted from textbooks.