February 4th was no ordinary day at Rosa Parks K-8. The staff and City Year crew worked together to ensure that the whole school was aware of the monumental day that is Rosa Parks’ birthday. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks courageously chose not to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, knowing full well that there would be dire consequences for her. As a result of this act of bravery, Rosa Parks helped empower people of color to stand up for their rights. Her influence in respects to the fight against segregation makes her birthday a well-deserved celebration. The staff and City Year profoundly felt that someone who had such an influence in the fight for Civil Rights should not go unrecognized.
One of the ways that Rosa Parks’ birthday was celebrated, was by having City Year members come into elementary classrooms and hand cookies (generously donated by Safeway) to all of the students. Even though the kids were excited to be given cookies on a day they initially thought was random, their energies spiked even farther when they found out that the very lady their school is named after is celebrating her 101st birthday. City Year members provided the class with an open discussion regarding the impact and importance of Rosa Parks’ life. Kids were quick to share their admiration for her strength and bravery that helped put an end to segregation. Before leaving, City Year members made sure to leave the students with a sense of pride by reminding them they attend a school named after a woman who had such a memorable impact. It can honestly be said that the most saddening fact the students learned was that Rosa Parks had passed away in 2005 and they will never get the chance to meet such a historic figure.
The middle school section of Rosa Parks K-8 celebrated Rosa Parks’ birthday in a different fashion, but with the same amount of dignity and respect. The celebration took place during the middle school lunch where the students were provided with both the opportunity to learn about Rosa Parks and share what Rosa Parks meant to them. It was amazing to watch groups of middle school students line up with anticipation for a chance to write down how they felt about Rosa Parks. Some of the words that the students used to describe her were powerful, freedom, inspirational, strong, and leader. It is clear that they share a deep admiration for this woman who helped give people of all colors the rights they deserve as humans. A student even mentioned that Rosa Parks is one of the few people who gives her hope for progress. By the end of middle school lunch, there was not a single student who could say that Rosa Parks’ life did not positively affect them.
Rosa Park’s birthday celebration was a spectacular day that gave students insight into her life and reminded them of the strides that have been made towards human equality. Karina Ayala, City Year’s head coordinator of the event, claimed that the purpose of this day was to educate students about Rosa Parks’ heroic acts so that students would continue to spread her legacy. She deeply believes this was accomplished, and is ecstatic about how engaged students have been in honoring the school’s hero.