It is 100 years since Rosa Parks was born. She was an African-American civil rights activist who became known as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement" because in December 1955 on her way home from work she declined to vacate her seat on the bus for a white man. You can read about her life and watch a video here.
Rosa Parks is not someone that school children in Australia know much about, but last year my Year 2 Book Club and I spent a term reading picture book biographies. The school library had a large number but I supplemented the collection by reading blogs and other teachers' recommendations. As a result of this reading, I bought one about Rosa Parks. It turned out to be very widely read, mostly I think because the first student who read it came to the literature circle so angry and indignant about the treatment of Rosa in the story. She was outraged and had so much to say to the group about it that I think everyone else in the group thought they should read it to see if it was true. The group made links between this story and White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein which some of them had read, and felt sure that this would never happen in Australia. Despite their young age, only 7 or 8 most of them, I did try to enlighten them as to things that had also happened in the past in Australia to Aboriginal people. I told them about books such as Stolen Girl by Trina Saffioti and I hope that as they get older and are exposed to other injustices they will read more widely.
It is important that students of today know what has happened in the past and how important it is to know that some people fought long and hard for liberties that they take for granted!