Institute News

New IWitness Activity Inspired by Rosa Parks: “Finding Your Seat on the Bus”

Finding Your Seat on the Bus, the IWitness activity piloted by students as part of the IWitness Detroit program, is now published on IWitness.

In this activity, students explore the concepts of grit, determination and resilience. They learn about individuals now and in the past who exemplify those characteristics and became social innovators: Holocaust liberators and civil rights activists Leon Bass and Paul Parks, Holocaust survivor and activist Hedy Epstein, and American politician Elizabeth Holtzman. Students construct a poem based on what they learn and reflect on how they can harness grit and determination to make a difference in their own lives.

The activity is published just in time for the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic stand for civil rights on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 1.

An early version of “Finding Your Seat on the Bus” was first piloted by students from all over the Detroit area as part of USC Shoah Foundation’s IWitness Detroit program this summer. The middle- and high school students toured the Henry Ford Museum’s exhibit Liberty and Justice for All, which incudes the actual bus on which Parks refused to give up her seat, and then completed “Finding your Seat on the Bus” at the Henry Ford Academy.

Students from IWitness Detroit continued their work on the activity and constructed new poems during the “Classroom Experience” at the 2015 Ambassadors for Humanity gala at the Henry Ford Museum on Sept. 10. Gala attendees were encouraged to attend the classroom experience to see IWitness in action.