Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona McCauley, a teacher. At the age of two she moved to her grandparents’ farm in Pine Level, Alabama with her mother and younger brother, Sylvester. At the age of 11 she enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school founded by liberal-minded women from the northern United States. The school’s philosophy of self-worth was consistent with Leona McCauley’s advice to “take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were.”

Most historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States to December 1, 1955. That was the day when an unknown seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. This brave woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance, but her lonely act of defiance began a movement that ended legal segregation in America, and made her an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere.

Education for Justice resources: 

  • Two-page Biography of Rosa Park: Rosa McCauley Parks: Taking a Stand for Justice: Rosa Parks is a sign of hope and a model of standing up for justice. This two-page biography resource includes a succinct biography, discussion questions, and a prayer
  • Lesson Plan on Rosa Parks: A Mighty Witness: Rosa Parks was a remarkable woman whose life and actions revealed what it meant to take a stand for justice – even while sitting down. This 10-page print-ready lesson plan is an activity designed to have students evaluate and assess the portrayal of Rosa in children’s books. This lesson engages critical thinking and analysis. Use this lesson plan to honor this woman and celebrate African American History Month in February.