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The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
5.0 (7 Reviews)

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks


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During the 1979–1980 school year, Mrs. Parks visited the Oakland Community School (OCS), an elementary school run by the Black Panther Party. Educator and Black Panther Party leader Ericka Huggins is the woman standing among the children. Photo by Donald Cunningham. Source: Ericka Huggins and Lisbet Tellefsen

About This Lesson

This lesson was inspired by the title of Jeanne Theoharis’s book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. In this activity, instead of students representing different individuals as they do in other mixers, every student portrays a different rebellious moment in Rosa Parks’ life. And through meeting one another, students surface the patterns of defiance on behalf of justice that coursed through her life. By sharing stories with each other, students are able to pry behind the “she was just tired” myth.

It makes no difference how much or how little students know about Rosa Parks; the mixer should help them gain a broader appreciation for her life of commitment and, yes, rebellion.

In writing these short scenes, when possible, I have used Rosa Parks’ own words. Other times, the descriptions draw on the words of other people recounting their memories of what Mrs. Parks said. Sometimes the roles are taken word-for-word from the elegant prose of Jeanne Theoharis. And, in fact, a few of these roles were written by Theoharis herself, who has reviewed the full activity and has graciously allowed the use of her book for this lesson.

This lesson accompanies the book The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks and the 2022 documentary film of the same name.




October 28, 2022
558.75 KB
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks | Official Trailer | Peacock Original
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7 Reviews
Deconstructing the Myths of Rosa
This lesson will allow my students to see Rosa Parks beyond 'the woman on the bus' and recognize her long-lasting influence in the civil rights movement and the MANY ways in which she engaged activism for change.
Kerri-Jean Furtado
March 26, 2023
Good material in this SML.
William Blankenship
March 23, 2023
This movie was more
This movie gave insight into the in and outs of Rosa Parks life. It really helped to understand the background of Rosa Parks.
March 09, 2023
More than Just the Bus
I love the idea of assigning groups different moments in her life to be shared out as a class. She used the bus in such a way to get the bigger picture out into the public. It might be decades later but it is happening.
March 09, 2023
Understand the hows and whys
This lesson is an insightful approach to the person Rosa Parks as a whole. It helps students to understand how one's cultural background and personal experiences make one an active member of society. What are the decisions I take today based on and what impact on tomorrow's life can they have? It empowers students to become reflective members in their communities.