Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues Ideas for Reports and Papers
by Harriette Gillem Robinet

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Research the history of Montgomery during 1955 and 1956, and write several journal entries each for five people representing different racial and socioeconomic groups (include both ordinary people—these can be based on real people or fictional characters you create—and famous people), keeping their voice authentic, based on their perceptions of events.

2. Consulting contemporary newspaper or magazine sources, prepare a domestic budget for three people based on 1956 prices in Montgomery. Compare budgets for families representing different socioeconomic classes. Are there any coupons or other strategies to reduce costs?

3. Using newspapers, local histories, the internet, or other sources, compare the lives of black and white twelve- and fifteen-year-olds in 1956 Montgomery and modern preteen and teenage residents. Explain which preteen or teenager you would prefer to be and why.

4. Research the topics of racism, white supremacy, and hate crimes, and prepare a paper about advances in racial equality achieved since 1956. Discuss how American society still is not completely equitable and how members of some ethnic and religious groups are targeted.

5. Write an epilogue chapter in which you tell what you think happened to Alfa and his family ten, twenty, and thirty years after the bus boycott. Who does he meet? What does he do? How does the Civil Rights Movement affect him? Are any of his dreams in conflict with societal expectations and assumptions regarding African Americans? Compile a time line with significant Civil Rights events and legislation and fictional milestones in Alfa's life according to your epilogue. What do you think happened to the white children with whom Alfa interacted?

6. Listen to music from the 1950s, and prepare a concert of songs, including hymns and spirituals, that the Merryfields might have heard in Montgomery. Include Alfa's lyrics, and create a song about the bus boycott and its heroes.

7. Write a scene from Alfa's sister Zinnia's point of view.

8. List jargon from the novel that you think is historical or regional, and define the words or terms. Find other terms significant to the Civil Rights Movement, and define then. What does Jim Crow mean? What is the derivation for that phrase?

9. Compare how people have protested social injustices throughout history. What methods seem most effective? How would you speak out about actions you perceive are unfair? Who would you emulate?

10. If possible, visit the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery and other Civil Rights landmarks in that city or similar historic sites near your community. Research local history resources such as newspapers and conduct interviews to learn more about the Civil Rights movement and its leaders and opponents in your town. Were there any groups similar to the Montgomery Improvement Association to seek racial equality?

11. From historical accounts, determine the average distance a bus boycotter walked from his/her house to work and back home. Measure this distance in your neighborhood or a track and walk that far for a week. Keep a journal about your experiences and thoughts while walking. How much time did it require for you to cover the distance? Did walking delay or make you late? If so, what penalties, if any, did you suffer? What did the boycotters experience if they were late to work? Chart and walk a comparable course to model how...

(The entire section is 814 words.)