Posts Tagged ‘Honors Studies’

We asked 70 People, Seven Questions
About Race & Ethnicity in American Culture
This is What they Said!


Presentation Handout


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pict2720What a wonderful night! I was fortunate enough to spend it with my classmates, my friends, and my professors. I never saw so many beutiful people all in one place at the same time. I can only describe it as what heaven would be like. I was wowed when Myrna showed up looking glam, proud when Alicia’s name was called over the loudspeakers, and speechless when Jasmin sashayed to recieve her award. A great night, with great people, and great memories that will last a lifetime.

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1-      Lived in Tuskegee with parents (mother was a teacher and father was a carpenter) for a couple of years until parents separated.

2-      Then moved with mother to Pine Level where she lived on a farm. She also lived with her grandparents and younger brother. They were a religious family who attended the African Methodist Episcopal Church regularly. With all the Jim Crow Laws and segregation going on, she realized at an early age that “there was a black world and a white world.” In an interview, she has also said that she has memories of her grandfather having to guard the front door because the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of her house and they were afraid they would burn their house down. She was homeschooled at home until age 11- mother instilled certain ideas to Rosa such as believing in freedom and equality for people.

3-      Her mother then enrolled her in a private institution: the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls (school founded by White Northerners for black children) where she took academic and vocational courses there. In the Lifetime movie, R.P. recalled a childhood memory where she was with friends at a park. There were two water fountains- one for “whites” and one for the “colored.” The young children wondered if the water tasted different so they switched the signs so they could drink the water for the “whites.” They thought that there was no difference in the taste and just watched people as they approached the fountains. A white man went on to drink from the fountain with the “for whites” sign (not knowing it was actually the colored fountain) and the man didn’t seem to notice any difference. He then let his dog drink from the fountain with the “for colored” sign.

4-      After she finished school there, she went to the Alabama State Teacher’s College High School for her secondary education but was forced to drop out to care for her sick grandmother who eventually died. When she was about to return to the high school, her mother then got sick and she had to stay home again to take care of her.

5-      As a young woman, she felt that it was not right to be deprived of freedom when they were living in the home of the brave and land of the brave. Because of this, she became an early activist in the 1930s in an effort to free the “Scottsboro Boys” case (where young boys were arrested and falsely accused of raping 2 young white girls).

6-      She met Raymond Parks during the case and they both worked in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) programs. They married in 1932. They continued quietly working on numerous cases for many years to follow.

7-      Raymond Parks encouraged her to continue education so she went back to high school and received her HS diploma in 1934 at age 21.

Adulthood Years

1-      Rosa and Raymond parks then settled in Montgomery, Alabama where she gained experience working at different jobs.

2-      She worked as a domestic worker, hospital aide and eventually settled working as a seamstress in a department store. She was a valued employee there because many white women would actually request for her by name. In the movie, they showed scenes of when she worked in the store. Black women who came in to buy shoes for their children had to bring a drawing outline of their kid’s feet because black people could try on the shoes in the store.

3-       Rosa Parks tried to register to vote but wasn’t able to succeed until her third try. In the movie, it showed that the first time she tried, the white receptionist told her to fill out a 2 page questionnaire (like an application or test like form). As she was filling it out, she noticed a white man come in who told the receptionist that he wanted to register to vote. All the woman asked him for was to pay $1.50, to sign his name and that was it. When R.P finished the forms, she submitted it to the woman and the white woman told her that she didn’t pass and so therefore she could not vote. She asked the woman if she could get the test back to see what she got wrong so she would know how to answer correctly the next time. The woman ignored her and put up a sign that said “closed for lunch.” The second time she went back, she took the test again and when she handed it in, the same white woman threw it out and told her that she didn’t pass again. The third and final time she was prepared- she made a copy of the questions just in case- when she was done with the test, she told the woman that if she was told that she didn’t pass again, then she’d want a lawyer to tell her what questions she got wrong. The white woman was speechless, she walked towards her boss and the boss said “we don’t want any trouble, just give it to her.” The woman told R.P. that she’d be allowed to vote but had to pay $12.50. Even though R.P. knew she was being charged incorrectly, she still paid because she wanted the right to vote.

4-      After this, she joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP because she wanted to become active in the Civil Rights Movement. She was elected as a volunteer secretary to its president, Edgar Nixon.

5-      She was living her everyday life by working as a seamstress and as a secretary. During this time, certain events occurred which made her become “tired of the treatment she and other African Americans were receiving every day.” Many blacks refused to move to the back of the bus and were arrested. In Montgomery, the first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Blacks could also sit in the middle rows though but only until the white section was full. Then they had to move to seats in the rear, stand, or if there was no room, leave the bus. R.P had her first run-in on the public bus on a rainy day in 1943, when the bus driver demanded that she get off the bus and reenter through the back door. The bus driver barely let her step off the bus before speeding off. She had to walk more than five miles home in the rain. Emmett Till: Rosa, like many other African-Americans, was deeply disturbed by the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black male. He was murdered by white men who believed that he had flirted with a white woman. Coincidentally, this murder occurred only four days before Rosa’s imminent arrest on the bus. Undoubtedly, the murder was in the back of her mind as she staged her rebellion that day.

Montgomery Bus Incident

1-      After a day at work, R.P. paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of back seats reserved for blacks in the “colored” section (The bus driver was the same person who left her in the rain in 1943). After a few stops, there were no white only seats left. The bus driver noticed 2 or 3 white men standing and moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and ordered them to sit in the back. R.P. was the only one who refused to move. The driver said, “If you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested” and she said “you may do that.” The driver then got off the bus and called the police. During this, other blacks kept saying to her “what are you trying to prove? You know it’s the law.” When the cops arrived, Parks still refused to give up her seat and therefore she was arrested. As the officer took her away, she said “Why do you push us around?” The officer’s response was “I don’t know but the law’s the law.” Parks has clarified numerous times that she didn’t refuse to move because she was TIRED, she was simply fed up of being mistreated. Parks has said “it was just time- an opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being mistreated.” Story of arrest was put in the newspaper.

2-      Parks was bailed out of jail by Nixon on Dec 2nd. She even lost her job as a seamstress because of the planned boycott. That evening, there was a meeting at a church about the case and they announced a bus boycott. Many people were there, including MLK Jr. It was MLK who taught nonviolence to all the participants. They formed the Montgomery Improvement Association.

Later Years

1-      Moved to Detroit with husband in 1957. She was employed by Congressman John Conyers from 1965-1988.

2-      Co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in 1987- to motivate and direct youth to achieve their highest potential. They have a “Pathways to Freedom” program where they take young kids from age 11-17 to teach them about history and inspire them. In August of 1994, Rosa Parks was alone in her apartment when an African American drug addict named Joseph Skipper broke in and attacked her. Skipper did not know, when he first broke in, whose home he was in. Only after getting a good look at her did he realize who she was. He even asked her if he was right. Still, he continued on with his plan to rob her and, on his way out the door, he struck her in the face. He was arrested and sentenced to a prison term of 8 to 15 years for breaking and entering into Rosa’s house and other local homes. She said she didn’t have hate or anger towards him, but she did pray for him to change his ways.

3-      Received numerous awards and honorary degrees: In 1979, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Parks the Spingarn Medal, its highest honor, and she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award the next year. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1983 for her achievements in civil rights. Rosa Parks Peace Prize in 1994. The Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1996. In 1997, they declared a Rosa Parks Day in Michigan. 1998- Rosa Parks Learning Center; introduced into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame. In 1998, she became the first recipient of the International Freedom Conductor Award given by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 1999- Received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Parks was a guest of President Bill Clinton during his 1999 State of the Union Address. Also that year, Time magazine named Parks one of the 20 most influential and iconic figures of the twentieth century. 2000- Rosa Parks Museum. 2002- Movie of her life. 2003- International Institute Heritage Hall of Fame Award. 2004- 91st bday celebration at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. 2005- 92nd bday celebration at Calvary Baptist Church.  Has also written four books.

4-      Died on Oct 24, 2005. Her casket was placed in US Capitol Rotunda for 2 days so nation could pay its respects to the woman whose courage had changed the lives of so many. She was the first woman in US history to lie in state at the capitol, an honor usually only reserved for Presidents of the US.

NOTE: In Interview, she was asked- “Are we moving as quickly as you might like in that direction?” She said, “We still have a long way to go, we still have many obstacles and any challenges to face. Its’ far from perfect, and it may never be, but I think as long as we do the best we can do to improve conditions, then people will be benefited.”

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