John Hanson student wows with Rosa Parks project
Seventh grader’s 3-D display gets perfect score in school competition
A life-size picture of Rosa Parks holding a slate with her arrest number, taken from her 1955 booking, stands within a 6-foot, three-dimensional prison — a stark reminder of the civil rights heroine’s arrest for refusing to give her bus seat to a white passenger.
The image, accentuated with an actual pair of wire rim glasses, is part of John Hanson Middle School seventh grader Trinity Smallwood’s History Day project, which received a perfect score in the school’s HITS (History, Industry, Technol- ogy and Science) Expo Tuesday.
Trinity’s project is one of six top contenders selected to continue on to the Charles County HITS Expo, scheduled for March 18 at St. Charles High School.
Trinity, 12, said she was inspired to do her project on Parks because her mother met the civil rights activist once as a young girl, when Parks visited her mother’s church.
“I liked the fact that she fought for equal rights for everyone,” Trinity said.
Trinity said she worked for two months, researching Parks and construct- ing the display, made out of cardboard and wood.
“I used the Library of Congress website, they had a lot of information on there, and some of the pictures are from Google, and I used books from my school library,” Trinity said. “To build the jail, it took about two weeks.”
Trinity said she came up with the idea of constructing the jail after seeing the picture of Parks’ mugshot. She said she put it together with assistance from her mother.
“I saw her mugshot and I thought that would be cool to put it into a jail that I could fit into,” Trinity said.
She said that in the course of doing her research, she learned there are many misconceptions about Parks.
“I liked to learn the full story. A lot of people think she was sitting in the front of the bus, but that wasn’t true,” Trinity said. “She was sitting in the first row of the black section, and when a white passenger remained standing, she was asked to move, and she refused.”
On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks was arrested in Mont- gomery, Ala., after refusing to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus to a white passenger after the white section was filled. Seating on buses was segregated by race, with preference giv- en to white passengers.
Parks’ arrest spawned the Montgomery Bus Boycott, an event which helped launch the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and brought an end to legalized segregation in the South.
Trinity’s display also includes copies of letters Parks wrote.
Trinity’s social studies teacher, Victoria Davenport, said Trinity’s project is one of the best projects she’s ever seen.
“It is a lot of great research. One of the things that I like about it is, yes, it’s pretty, but it’s not just pretty, it actually has good research — she did an historical investigation and proved her thesis, which is what the project is all about. She has learned to do college- and career-ready research,” Davenport said.
Trinity said she hopes people come away from viewing her project with a desire to learn more about Parks.
“I hope they get the full story, because there’s a lot of information out there that isn’t told, a lot of stuff,” Trinity said.
John Hanson Middle School seventh grader Trinity Smallwood shows some of the features of her social studies project for the school’s History, Industry, Technology and Science (HITS) Expo Tuesday.