Civil rights activist Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She attended the Montgomery Industrial School, which emphasized domestic sciences such as cooking, sewing, and caring for the sick. She married Raymond Parks in 1932 and was one of the first women to join the Montgomery branch of the NAACP in 1943. On December 1, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man and was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance. Her actions inspired 50,000 blacks in Montgomery to boycott the city buses for a year until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the segregated busing policy was unconstitutional. She moved to Detroit, Michigan with her husband in 1957 and served as a secretary/ receptionist for U.S. Representative John Conyers from 1965 to 1988. She founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, which sponsors an annual summer bus trip around the country for teenagers to learn the history of their country and the civil rights movement. She received numerous awards during her lifetime including the NAACP's Springarn Medal in 1979, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999. She died on October 24, 2005 at the age of 92.
Author Jim Haskins was born in Demopolis, Alabama on September 19, 1941. He received a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1960, a B.S. from Alabama State University in 1962, and a M.A. from the University of New Mexico in 1963. After graduation, he became a special education teacher in a public school in Harlem. His first book, Diary of a Harlem School Teacher, was the result of his experience there. He taught at numerous colleges and universities before becoming an English professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville in 1977. He wrote more than 100 books during his lifetime, ranging from counting books for children to biographies on Rosa Parks, Hank Aaron and Spike Lee. He won numerous awards for his work including the 1976 Coretta Scott King Award for The Story of Stevie Wonder, the 1984 Coretta Scott King Award for Lena Horne, the 1979 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Scott Joplin: The Man Who Made Ragtime; and the 1994 Washington Post Children's Book Guide Award. He also won the Carter G. Woodson Award for young adult non-fiction for Black Music in America; The March on Washington; and Carter G. Woodson: The Man Who Put "Black" in American History in 1989, 1994, and 2001, respectively. He died from complications of emphysema on July 6, 2005 at the age of 63.