History resources: Rosa Parks’s arrest records

February 25, 2013

Maria Popova at Exp.lore.com suggested some tools for teachers, about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott:

The arrest records of Rosa Parks. Pair with Susan Sontag on courage and resistance. 

Fingerprint sheet from the arrest of Rosa L. Parks, in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1955.

The arrest records of Rosa Parks. Pair with Susan Sontag on courage and resistance.

Popova’s suggestion of Sontag’s piece — which is available at Popova’s site — lends depth to this assignment frequently lacking in high schools. The other link Popova offers takes us to the National Archives and their great bank of classroom materials, including a few more documents from the incident:  “Teaching from Documents:  An Act of Courage, The Arrest Records of Rosa Parks.

I like to use these materials around the anniversary of Parks’s arrest on December 1, which is out of sequence for the civil rights movement and a couple of months before Black History Month.  I find it useful to talk about events on the anniversary of the events, especially to give students more than one pass at the material in class, and also to link whatever is being studied in sequence at that moment (often the Civil War in Texas classrooms) with later events, and current events, as a view in to the web of interlinked occurrences that really make up history.  (Yes, I’m an advocate of dropping the name “Black History Month” and teaching it throughout the year; though a Black Heritage Appreciation Month is a help.)

Modern students seem to me to be particularly ill-informed on current events.  Far too many of them do not read newspapers, not even the comics.  This makes more important the classroom linking of past events with current events that students don’t know about, or fail to recognize the significance.

More, and other resources:

1955 Highlander Center workshop, showing Rosa Parks

Summer 1955: Desegregation workshop at Highlander Research and Education Center. Highlander Center caption:  Rosa Parks is at the end of the table. Six months later, her actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. [Who are the other people pictured?]

NAACP petition to Hollywood movie makers for Black History Month

February 11, 2012

Good idea, I think:



Growing up, I remember marveling at the stories about the bravery, courage, and patriotism demonstrated by the Tuskegee Airmen.

I was happy to see them gain renewed recognition through the recent film Red Tails. Their story of persevering through a pervasive culture of prejudice to become American heroes is one we should tell more often.

But as we celebrate Black History Month and honor the African-American heroes in our lives, we must remember that films celebrating the contributions of people of color remain few and far between. That’s why I’m asking you to sign onto a letter asking movie studios to bring more of these stories to the silver screen.

Sign our letter encouraging Hollywood to create more films like Red Tails, celebrating the contributions of African-Americans throughout our history:


The facts about the production of films showing African-American heritage, and the employment of African-Americans in Hollywood, are alarming.

In 2009, Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard said, “the diverse and multicultural world we live in today is still not accurately reflected in the portrayals we see on the screen.” And last year, the Writers Guild of America released a study showing the minority share of employment in feature films had fallen to 5%, its lowest level in ten years.

We must reverse these trends. With your help, we can send a message to the Hollywood studios that the public wants to see more films on the contributions of diverse communities, written, directed, and produced by filmmakers from all walks of life.

Make no mistake — we have come a long way since the Tuskegee Airmen flew in the face of a society that thought them incapable of achieving the feats of bravery they regularly demonstrated. Now we must ensure their legacy will be passed on to future generations.

Join us in telling Hollywood we need more films celebrating African-American culture and contributions:


After you sign the letter, I hope you’ll go see Red Tails in the theaters this weekend. It’s a great way to continue celebrating Black History Month. And if you have already seen it, see it again!

Thank you,

Vic Bulluck

Executive Director
NAACP Hollywood Bureau

P.S. Join us on February 17th as we honor those who have achieved milestones in the fields of social justice and art. The 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards will air live on NBC at 8:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. central).

Have you seen “Red Tails” yet?  What did you think?

(Oy.  Have you heard the controversy in Dallas about taking classes to see it?)


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