Rosa Parks by Syasia Everett

By in Human Rights, Leadership

Rosa Parks



“If I can sit down for freedom, you can stand up for the children.”

Rosa Parks was one of the most influential leaders to have ever lived, leaving a great impact on the world. Many Americans have looked up to her in admiration because of what she stood for and how courageous she was. Everyone knows the story of how Rosa Parks became well known to America, which was her refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama for a white man. Back in the 1950’s this was indeed illegal, therefore Parks was arrested. This arrest did not stop Parks, or other civil rights activists, fight against segregation. In fact, this served as ammunition to ignite the Bus Boycotts. I, for one, admired her and her ambition, as well as her willingness to stand up for what she believed in. Parks fight for equality did not start or stop after her incident on the bus. As it turns out, Rosa Parks worked a lot with the civil rights movements years before the bus boycott even began, and she continued to do work even after that time period. Parks was a very influential leader and I admire that she did never stopped her fight for a better world. She continued to fight for a better life for future generations until the day she passed.


Key Accomplishments

– The Institute for Self-Development: Pathways to Freedom

This program was initiated in 1987 and was founded in honor of her husband, Raymond, after his passing. The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development allows underprivileged children to reach their full potential by encouraging the young people to push towards achievement in improving the world they’re living, and to leave an impact for the future. The programs and centers are based out of California and Michigan, and include a 5-week bus tour of the United States while being educated about the history of the U.S. from the underground railroad, to the civil rights movement and even beyond then. The participants in this program are educated about the major events that occurred throughout those time periods through personal interactions and hands-on activities. What is also taught, is skills on how to be an effective leader and making an impact, by modeling the work of Rosa Parks herself in human rights. 

In order to have a broader outreach, the institution decided to work closely with The Boggs Center for Community Leadership and the Multicultural Experience in Leadership Development Program put together by Wayne State University because of their common interest in enhancing leadership development within the youth. With new programs initiated, the students projected their thoughts and feelings on different ways to promote peace and thought of ways to express just that through creative ways such as dance, poetry, journalism, etc. They were also required to look into how the media may influence peace, in ways such as music, the internet, TV and radio. 

The students and parents of children who participated have said that the program really initiated growth and development, and also instilled a lot of helpful skills. Some of the evidence includes:

1. Re-enrollment in school after dropout
2. Increased community service activity
3. College enrollment & graduation
4. Employment
5. Re-connection with families


– Working for the NAACP

After meeting her husband, Raymond, Rosa Parks decided to actively join the NAACP along with her husband. There, she was a secretary for the chapter in Montgomery. Rosa Parks recalled her time working with the NAACP as “quiet”. “I worked on numerous cases with the NAACP… but we did not get the publicity.” When she was elected to be secretary she noted that she was the only woman there, which was definitely an honor, especially when she was asked to work personally for leader of the committee, E.D. Nixon. During her time with the NAACP, she worked closely on the gang-rape case of Recy Taylor, who was a victim of a gang rape crime in 1944, after walking home from church with a friend. She had a family at home consisting of her husband and infant child, whom she begged to return home to while she was being assaulted. While working on this case, she also helped other activists organize the “Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor”. Within her time with the NAACP, she also became an advocate for the youth. In 1949, she created and became the adviser to the NAACP Youth Council. The youth members of the council challenged the Jim Crow Laws by checking out books from libraries that was for whites only. Rosa Parks worked closely with the youth who were growing up in the time of the Civil Rights Movement, reminding them to never settle for what you think isn’t right. With that said, I think Parks had finally had enough of the mistreatment she and those of the same race were receiving. Therefore, she know it was time for her to take a stand and fight for what she believed in. 


– Secretarial job for U.S. representative John Conyers

 Shortly after her arrest, Parks and her husband set off for a fresh start because of the struggle to find work and disputes between her and Dr. King. She first moved to Hampton, Virginia where she found a job as a hostess but later that year, she packed up her family again and headed to Detroit, Michigan. Up until 1965, she worked as a seamstress but U.S. Detroit Democrat John Conyers hired Rosa Parks to be his secretary and receptionist. Conyers was elected to congress in 1964 and he immediately hired Parks to be a member of his staff because their political views mirrored each others. Parks had managed to receive a lot of praise and credit because of her secretarial work she had done with the NAACP, contributing to the many reasons why Conyers had elected her to be a part of his team. 



There are a lot of people who criticize her work with the NAACP’s Youth Council because of their acts of defiance against the laws that were set in place. I don’t think this is something she should be criticized for because these members of the council were fighting for their rights; fighting against what they thought was wrong and indeed needed to be fixed. The way Parks tried to get the younger generations involved definitely moved me because it showed that she cared for the futures of the generations to come, and she wanted to help make a better future for those, possible, in every way that she could. This is why I admire her for being the foundation of the NAACP Youth Council and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development.


Leadership Lessons:


Annotated Bibliography

Hanson, Joyce Ann. Rosa Parks : A Biography. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2011. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost(accessed October 22, 2014).

McGuire, Danielle L. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance- a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.

Morris, Libby V. 2006. “Rosa Parks, Leadership Artist and Designer.” Innovative Higher Education no. 5: 305.

Parks, Rosa, and James Haskins. Rosa Parks: My Story. New York: Dial Books, 1992.

Siegel, Beatrice. The Year They Walked: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. New York: Four Winds Press ;, 1992.

Theoharis, Jeanne. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Boston: Beacon Press, 2013.

“Parks, Rosa (1913-2005).” Parks, Rosa (1913-2005). Accessed November 17, 2014.


Mini Bio: 


Syasia Everett, 18, a freshman at Wagner College. I’m currently an Undecided major but I am heavily considering the Arts Administration program, concentrating on Combined Arts. Growing up, the Civil Rights Movement is something I have always loved learning about and I had always admired Rosa Parks; hence the reason I chose to do my blog presentation on her. She is a leader who will forever be credited for her work, ambition and bravery. Parks is someone who many people have, and will always continue to look up to throughout the many generations to come.