Uh oh! Jamal just got a note from the principal. He had been fighting with another boy over who would sit in the back seat of the bus. When his mother sees the note, she is upset. But when Grandpa Joe finds out, he’s angry with Jamal. And if that weren’t all, the Martin Luther King, Jr., assembly is coming up at school.
Jamal goes to talk with Grandpa Joe to find out why he is angry. Jamal says he is sorry about fighting and promises not to do it again. Then Grandpa Joe explains that when he was a young man living in
Montgomery, Alabama, African Americans had to ride in the back of city buses. One day in 1955, an African American woman, Rosa Parks, sat in the front of the bus and refused to move. She was arrested. Leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., helped African Americans in Montgomery to organize and stop riding the buses. Finally, the law was changed.
Jamal’s father tells him that he once saw Dr. King speak in person.
He reminds Jamal that Dr. King spoke of using peaceful ways to make things change. Jamal starts to think. Suddenly he has an idea for a short play for the school assembly. It’s about two boys who fight to sit in the back of the bus. They don’t understand Dr. King’s ideas. Then they learn how fighting is not the way to get things done. The class puts on Jamal’s play!
Think About the Selection
- Why is Jamal's grandfather so unhappy that Jamal fought to sit at the back of the bus?
- What does Jamal learn from talking with his grandfather? How is he different after the talk?
- How does Jamal use what he learns from his grandfather in his skit?
- Jamal says that he did something "really stupid that turned out to be stupendous instead." What do you think he means?
- What would you like to do for a school celebration of Dr. King's birthday?
- Who do you think are the heroes in this story? What makes them heroic?
- Characters do things that real people and animals might do.
- Places in the story are real or seem real.
- The story tells about things that could really happen.