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Celebrating Rosa Parks

Throughout the year, second graders celebrate the birthdays of such human rights activists as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Fannie Lou Hammer, Eleanor Roosevelt and Cesar Chavez. One particularly poignant event every year is the anniversary celebration of Rosa's refusal to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

With the help of their teachers, second graders form committees to create every aspect of a theatrical presentation—from writing to costume, props, sets and programs—with many of the students joining multiple groups. All of the children are invited to perform in the final production.

Members of the “writing committee" draft an outline and script for the play, though many of the actors choose to write their own lines. The students also revise the script many times to accommodate their growing understanding as they revisit the struggles of civil rights leaders.

The project, say the teachers, provide valuable lessons in research-collecting methods, collaboration and problem-solving, while the final presentation reinforces the students' understanding about Rosa Parks and social justice.