The Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University will commemorate Rosa Parks Day and the 66th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott with the theme, Preserving Their Legacy: Activism Then and Now, on Dec. 4, 2021.
The program will feature a keynote address by award-winning broadcast journalist, speaker and author Karen Gray Houston, niece of famed civil rights attorney Fred Gray, and a creative presentation by the Women in Training, Inc. Rites of Passage Circle.
The program will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2021, at the museum, 252 Montgomery St. in Montgomery, Alabama.
“The Rosa Parks Museum is committed to upholding the legacy of Rosa Parks, in addition to the countless foot soldiers who made the Montgomery Bus Boycott a success,” said Donna Beisel, assistant director of the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University. “We are honored to host Karen Houston as the keynote speaker for our program commemorating the beginning of the bus boycott, as well as the young women of Women in Training, Inc., who are carrying on their legacy today.”
The WIT Rites of Passage Circle is a program of Women In Training, Inc. that provides cultural enrichment and personal development training to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) middle school girls throughout central Alabama. The program’s mission is to help girls develop confidence and a strong belief in themselves.
“Our mission is to help cultivate girls into culturally competent, compassionate, savvy and empowered global leaders by teaching them to care for themselves and the world around them,” said Adeyela Albury Bennett, the WIT CEO. “We created this program to help middle school girls transition from the tumultuous ‘chrysalis’ stage of puberty into the confident ‘butterfly’ stage of womanhood.”
Incorporating the African concept of “It takes a village to raise a child,” WIT leaders collaborated with Valerie Adams, co-founder of the Alabama Indigenous Coalition, and elders from Nature’s Garden for Victory and Peace (NGVP) Sister Circle Collective to implement the program. The NGVP Sister Circle Collective consists of Dr. Muhjah Shakir, founder and CEO of NGVP; Tuskegee City Councilwoman Norma McGowan Jackson, also known as Iyabode; and the Rev. Dr. Jacquetta Y. Parhams, founder and CEO of Whole-Self Ministries.
At the Dec. 4 event, WIT representatives will discuss how the youth empowerment organization preserves the legacy of Rosa Parks, who is known as the “mother of the civil rights Movement,” and their plans to continue activism into the future.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated Montgomery bus, sparking the nearly 13-month Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the civil rights movement. Dec. 1 is officially recognized in Alabama as Rosa Parks Day.
Some of the women who are involved in the WIT Rites of Passage Circle recently responded to the prompt, “I am Rosa Parks,” defining what it means to them.
“I am Rosa Parks, committed to civil and human rights in peace and power,” Shakir said.
“I am Rosa Parks. I respect all, yet fear none, while representing a legacy of love in action through selfless service,” said Stephanie A. McCorvey, WIT’s vice president for youth development.
During the Dec. 4. program, the “daughters” in the WIT Rites of Passage Circle will perform Lamban, a traditional West African celebration dance from the 13th century Old Mali Empire. Maya Bledsoe, founder of M2 Dance Studios, choreographed the performance.
Community members may bring menstrual and hygiene items to the event to include in monthly WITKITS donations to girls and women in need. WIT’s signature program is the WITKITS Campaign to provide menstrual products and hygiene items to young, low-income people who menstruate. Since its founding in 2019 by 12-year-old twins, Breanna and Brooke Bennett, the organization has provided more than 10,000 WITKITS to people in need.
The Rosa Parks Museum will livestream the Dec. 4 event on its Facebook page.