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Rosa Parks Civil Rights Essay Prompt

Compiled by Angela McMillian, Digital Reference Specialist

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material related to Rosa Parks, including photographs and documents. This guide compiles links to Rosa Parks resources throughout the Library of Congress Web pages. In addition, this guide provides links to external Web sites focusing on Rosa Parks and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Rosa Parks Papers, 1866-2006

The collection documents many aspects of Parks's private life and public activism on behalf of civil rights for African Americans. The articles and essays section includes:

African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship

This exhibition showcases the incomparable African American collections of the Library of Congress. Rosa Parks's role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott is mentioned in the Civil Rights section.

Rosa Parks was arrested for Civil Disobedience December 1, 1955

(Personal voices from the Library of Congress: compelling stories & fascinating facts.)

In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress

Inside the Rosa Parks Collection

Library of Congress

Looking Back on the Bus Boycott

Pics of the Week: Auntie Rosa Remembered

Pics of the Week: Honoring Rosa Parks

A Sense of Purpose: Organizing the Rosa Parks Collection

Teaching with the Library of Congress

Happy Birthday to Rosa Parks!

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom

This exhibition, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, explores the events that shaped the civil rights movement, as well as the far-reaching impact the act had on a changing society.

“With an Even Hand”: Brown v. Board at Fifty

This exhibition includes a photograph of Rosa Parks being fingerprinted as well images of her arrest record.

Manuscript Division Finding Aids Online

Access the finding aid for the papers of Rosa Parks in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

"Family of Rosa Parks to Discuss Her Legacy"
May 12, 2015

"Rosa Parks Collection Opens to Researchers Feb. 4"
February 3, 2015

"Co-Founder of Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development To Share Recollections of Civil Rights Icon"
January 9, 2015

"Rosa Parks’ Papers to Reside at Library of Congress"
September 9, 2014

Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

Search PPOC using the subject heading Parks, Rosa,--1913-2005 to find digital images related to Parks.

Features and Activities

From Slavery to Civil Rights: A Timeline of African-American History

This interactive activity introduces African-American history through primary sources, including an image of Rosa Parks seated on the bus.`


This feature presentation introduces teachers and students to the topic of Immigration. Rosa Parks is mentioned in the Social Revolution section of the presentation.

Lesson Plans

After Reconstruction

Students identify problems and issues facing African Americans immediately after Reconstruction using text-based sources.

Segregation: From Jim Crow to Linda Brown

Students explore the era of legalized segregation. This lesson provides a foundation for a more meaningful understanding of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Professional Development

Rosa Parks: A Primary Source Gallery

This gallery showcases a selection of items from the Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress, which is on loan to the Library for 10 years from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. This collection contains thousands of items that document the life, work, and legacy of this civil-rights legend.

Themed Resources

Civil Rights

Explore the fight for voting rights as well as the racial history of the United States in sports and schools. Study maps, baseball cards and political cartoons as well as pamphlets, legal documents, poetry, music, and the personal correspondence and oral histories of the famous and the ordinary.

January 15, 1929

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., twentieth-century America's most compelling and effective civil rights leader, was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.

December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring blacks to relinquish bus seats to whites.

March 7, 1965

Civil Rights demonstrators begin a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on a date now known as "Bloody Sunday."

Web Guides produced by the Digital Reference Section of the Library of Congress

African American Sites in the Digital Collections

This guide highlights contributions by African Americans to the arts, education, industry, literature, politics and much more as represented in the vast online collections of the Library. Rosa Parks is included in the Post War United States section.

Civil Rights Resource Guide

This guide compiles links to civil rights resources throughout the Library of Congress Web site and beyond.

Rosa Parks: Beyond the Bus

Three associates of Rosa Parks give first-hand accounts of Mrs. Parks' life and legacy after her historical arrest.

Rosa Parks Collection: Telling Her Story at the Library of Congress

Highlights of the collection of Rosa Parks, a seminal figure of the Civil Rights Movement, on loan to the Library from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for 10 years.

The portal includes an article about Rosa Parks entitled "She Sat Down for What She Believed."

Academy of Achievement: Rosa Parks

The Academy of Achievement site contains a profile, biography, interview, and photo gallery for Rosa Parks.

Henry Ford Museum: Rosa Parks Bus

This site includes information about Rosa Parks and the story behind the bus in which she made history.

National Public Radio: Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks Dies

The National Public Radio (NPR) site contains a featured story about the death of Rosa Parks. The story includes links to interviews relating to Rosa Parks.

National Women's Hall of Fame: Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development was co-founded in February 1987 by Mrs. Rosa Parks and Ms. Elaine Eason Steele, in honor of Raymond Parks (1903 – 1977). It is the living legacy of two individuals who committed their lives to civil and human rights. The site includes a biography, photo gallery, and timeline.

Teaching With Documents: An Act of Courage, The Arrest Records of Rosa Parks, from the National Archives and Records Administration

The site includes lesson resources pertaining to the arrest of Rosa Parks.

Troy University: Rosa Parks Library and Museum

The site includes information about the life of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Wayne State University, Walter P. Reuther Library

Access the finding aid for the Rosa L. Parks Papers, 1955-1976 in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs.

Brinkley, Douglas. Rosa Parks. New York: Viking, 2000. [Catalog Record]

Haskins, Jim and Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks: My Story. New York: Dial Books, 1992. [Catalog Record]

Parks, Rosa and Gregory Reed. Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. [Catalog Record]

Siegel, Beatrice. The Year They Walked: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. New York: Four Winds Press; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1992. [Catalog Record]

Baker, Courtney. Let’s Read About--Rosa Parks. New York: Scholastic/Cartwheel Books, 2004. [Catalog Record]

Banting, Erinn. Rosa Parks. New York: Weigl Publishers, 2006. [Catalog Record]

Dubowski, Cathy E. Rosa Parks: Don’t Give In! New York: Bearport Publishing, 2006. [Catalog Record]

Edwards, Pamela D. The Bus Ride That Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Hull, Mary. Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Leader. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Morris, Roz. Rosa Parks: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Birmingham, AL: Seacoast Publishing., 2003. [Catalog Record]

Parks, Rosa and Gregory J. Reed. Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth. New York: Lee & Low Books, 1996. [Catalog Record]

Schraff, Anne. Rosa Parks: "Tired of Giving In". Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Shores, Erika L. Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Pioneer. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Steele, Philip. Rosa Parks and Her Protest for Civil Rights. North Mankato, MN: Smart Apple Media, 2003. [Catalog Record]

In 1955, city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, were segregated. Blacks had to sit in a separate section of the bus and give up their seat if a white person wanted it. One day, Rosa Parks refused to move because she was tired of being treated as a second-class citizen. “How I Fought for Civil Rights,” shares her story and how she inspired a generation to fight for civil rights. Plus, reading and writing activities help students understand the importance of every individual citizen in a democracy.

  • Students can read an overview of Parks’ life, which offers insight into what life was like for an African-American women in the South before the civil rights movement.
  • Students get a history lesson in civil rights while reading about Rosa Park's inspiring journey, from her brave decision to not to move from her bus seat (breaking segregation laws) to her subsequent arrest, as well as the successful African-American boycott of the city bus system and the eventual Supreme Court ruling against segregation.
  • Students learn about Dr. Martin Luther King’s involvement in the boycott and how he preached nonviolence during the civil rights movement.
  • Students can read a compelling interview with Rosa Parks, “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.”
  • How Would You Feel? asks students to imagine themselves in Parks’ shoes and write about it.

This activity is also a part of the Culture and Change: Black History in America student activity and the Women Who Changed History student activity.