Years after her historical contribution that marked one of the most significant moments during the Civil Rights Movement and American history, the legacy of the late Rosa Parks continues to live all over the world.
In 1987, Rosa Parks and Elaine Steele co-founded the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. Headquartered in Detroit, Steele says the national organization’s journey traces the Underground Railroad, Civil Rights Movement and beyond. The mission is to emphasize the importance of education and to motivate youth all over the country to reach their highest potential.
“If we don’t know where we’ve been, we’ll wonder,” Steele adds. “In this organization, children all over the country can reach out to people of different cultures, learn about social justice and how they can be productive citizens.”
In August, a group of 100 children aged 11 to 17 years old, will travel to Ghana for a special ceremony for the naming of a road after the historical figure and network with 100 youth from the other side of the world. The road is located near a historical dungeon where slaves were held captive centuries ago. Steele says the idea to voyage to the continent of the beginning of civilization originated from Pat McCants, the organization’s event coordinator. Steele comments children will learn about the natural resources, prosperity and accomplishments of both Ghana and the continent of Africa.
With the assistance of Judge Ann Williams of the 7th Circuit in Chicago, children and adults from the United States will meet Chief Justice Theodora Woods of Ghana, one of five female chief justices in the world.
Steele says the organization has traveled to other countries such as Canada and the Bahamas, but this is the first time that the group left the North American continent. Students who go must write an essay about Parks, how the Civil Rights Movement affected the lives of their family members and why they desire to take the journey. The trip costs $3500, $3000 of which is paid for by sponsorships through the organization. Costs include airfare, accommodations, orientation and materials during the week of the trip and the week of orientation prior to the trip. Steele adds adults are welcome to join, for the price of $2800.
“She [Parks] was a wonderful person and to establish this organization is a tribute to her legacy,” Steele recounts, as she discusses their 45-year friendship. “She was the epitome of quiet strength.”
Steele adds Parks was invited to Africa years ago, but was unable to travel because of her health. “Rosa Parks will be making this journey with us, along with other ancestors in spirit,” she says.
For more information on Pathways to Freedom Ghana 2011 or the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, please visit www.rosaparks.org.