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The Rebellious Life of 

Mrs. Rosa Parks

Film Release This Week

“By the time I was six, I was old enough to realize that

we were actually not free.” — Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is one of the most well-known U.S. women of the 20th century and yet much of what has been taught about her is narrow, limited, and at times wrong.

This is changing, thanks to the release in 2021 of the young adult book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, and a new film with the same title — both based on the Parks’ biography by Jeanne Theoharis.

We are excited that the film releases this week on Peacock. It is rare to have a people’s history text turned into a major film.

Watch the film and find teaching resources below. We recommend the Democracy Now! program on the film’s release, with extensive clips and interviews with historian Jeanne Theoharis and filmmaker Yoruba Richen.


To facilitate classroom use of the book and film, the Zinn Education Project is coordinating book distribution and educator film screenings (coming in the Spring of 2023), as well as making a teaching guide for The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks available online. This is made possible by Soledad O’Brien Productions and funded by The Ford Foundation. Learn more about these resources below.

Teaching Guide

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A collection of lessons for middle and high school classrooms based on the book and film, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Some of the lessons focus on why Rosa Parks is so widely misunderstood — and what this says about national myths, histories, and memorialization. Others take a deeper dive into a particular event or topic. Below are two of the lessons.

Teaching Guide

“Intolerable Conditions”: Teaching About Northern Racism Through Rosa Parks’ Detroit

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This lesson, which focuses on the 1967 Detroit Uprising, equips students to “talk back” to official accounts by focusing on its root causes. The lesson asks students to investigate four crucial sites of racial inequality — schools, housing, jobs, and policing — drawing upon excerpts from The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks: Young Readers Edition, film clips, and several primary sources: tax records, redlining maps, oral histories, newspaper stories, and more.


The Rebellious Lives of Mrs. Rosa Parks:

A Mixer Lesson

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In this mixer activity, every student portrays a different moment in Rosa Parks’ life. Through meeting one another, students surface the patterns of defiance on behalf of justice that coursed through her life. By sharing stories with each other, students pry behind the “she was just tired” myth. This is an ideal activity to do in advance of reading the book or watching the film.

More Lessons

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks in Classrooms Nationwide

Thousands of students are reading the young people’s edition of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks and they are preparing to watch the new documentary film of the same name.

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Classroom Stories
More on Film, Lessons, and Other Resources 

Bring People’s

History to More Classrooms

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The Zinn Education Project is supported primarily by individuals. Please donate today so that more teachers receive free lessons, books, and workshops on people’s history — like the story of Rosa Parks — that have been misrepresented or omitted from textbooks.

Donate Now



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