In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Columbus Area Arts Council presents a theatrical performance of the life of Rosa Parks, “the first lady of civil rights.” The Rosa Parks Story, performed by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, is free of charge and will take place at 2:00 PM on Monday, January 21 in The Commons, 300 Washington Street, Columbus.
This educational theatrical performance will be held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a way to engage the community in a conversation on equality. Karen Shrode, executive director of the Arts Council, lived in Georgia during the early 1960s when racial inequality was still highly visible. “This country has come a long way [in racial equality] having elected an African-American as president. However, younger generations may not realize the struggles people had to fight to get to this place in history,” said Shrode. The Arts Council intends this play to bring about a better understanding of why segregation was wrong and how it has changed the course of history since Rosa Parks’ simple act of civil disobedience.
The Rosa Parks Story is produced and performed by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and is intended for audiences of all ages but geared specifically to children from grade school to high school. The play comes with educational resource materials that teachers and parents can utilize. Tami Sharp, program director of the Arts Council, has been reaching out to local educators to have this play incorporated into the discussion of civil rights in area classes. “We want to provide an art program that can be used as an educational tool,” said Sharp. The Arts Council has had positive feedback from middle school teachers that will use this play as part of their curriculum. “Some [teachers] will use this as an opportunity for extra credit for their students,” added Sharp. Sharp noted this event will be held on a federal holiday when area schools are closed.
The study guide is free to anyone and is available by clicking HERE.
Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Rosa Parks grew up in the segregated South. She lived her life in the face of oppressive Jim Crow laws, which mandated racial segregation in Southern States. Parks obtained a high school diploma and registered to vote. And even though she began working at the NAACP in 1943, little did she know that one small act of defiance would change the nation.
On December 1, 1955, Parks became famous for refusing to obey bus driver James Blake’s order that she give up her seat to a white man. This act of civil disobedience started the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which is one of the largest movements against racial segregation, thrusting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into the national spotlight.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for 381 days, and only ended after the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional.
Along with the Brown v. Board of Education decision desegregating schools, this legal ruling is seen as being of great significance in civil rights history. Although given the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” she was very modest about it. “Four decades later I am still uncomfortable with the credit given to me for starting the bus boycott. I would like (people) to know I was not the only person involved. I was just one of many who fought for freedom,” said Parks. For the rest of her life Parks became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
Observed on the third Monday of January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday that marks the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.