The Full Story of Rosa Parks

As a lead up to Black History Month, fourth and fifth graders in David and Dan’s classroom watched The Dangers of Whitewashing Black History, a TEDx talk given by David Ikard, a professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Ikard tells an compelling story about the day his son was given inaccurate information at school about the civil rights activist Rosa Parks. He provides the viewer with some background knowledge on Parks and then explains the fascinating role his son played in correcting his teacher and educating the children in his class.

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After viewing the TEDx talk, we explored important questions such as

  • Why was David Ikard so upset when he realized that his son was going to present the information to the class (Isn’t a class supposed to be collaborative?  Can’t a teacher learn from a child? It is certainly a model we try to uphold here at TPS. So why was this different? What was at stake)?

  • How was Parks’ story altered (Why would her story be altered in such a way?  Who does this benefit? What larger pattern is this indicative of)?

The children were fascinated by the full story of Rosa Parks and decided they would like to learn more about her. They also asked to learn more about:

  • Why blacks who had a choice opted to fight in the Civil War

  • The lives, accomplishments, struggles, and general history of early free blacks (former

    slaves) in the U.S.

  • Ida B. Wells

  • Barack Obama

  • George Washington Carver

  • Martin Luther King

We are excited that our fourth and fifth graders generated this list on their own and that they are eager to understand more about the contributions of Black Americans, as well as the systemic realities that often conceal and disguise so much of our shared American history!