Skip to content

Icon’s impact remembered at belonging event


Staff member stands in front of two posters on wall advertising event

What it means to belong will be the theme of an annual University of Bradford event celebrating the legacy of a civil rights icon.

The Rosa Parks Symposium, now in its 19th year, honours the life of the American activist in the civil rights movement, who was best known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott. 

Mrs Parks rejected a bus driver’s instruction to leave a row of four seats in the vehicle’s black section for a white passenger, once the white section was filled. The incident took place on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. 

She then faced a court challenge following her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws. She was later honoured as ‘the first lady of civil rights’ by the United States Congress and died aged 92 in 2005. 

Meanwhile, this year’s Rosa Parks Symposium has the theme ‘Belonging here’. Guest speakers will look at what it means to belong, how it feels to be excluded and how can a more inclusive society be created. The event will discuss the implications of Mrs Parks’ contributions to the race equality agenda. 

When you belong, you thrive 

The Symposium will be in the Small Hall of the University’s Richmond Building on Tuesday 12 December between 10am and 3.30pm. 

Professor Udy Archibong, Pro Vice-Chancellor Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, who directs the University of Bradford’s Centre for Inclusion and Diversity, is the host of the Symposium. 

She said: “As a University, inclusion and social mobility are central to everything we do. The very theme of belonging is very special. 

It is an opportunity to reflect on how it feels to belong here. When you belong, you thrive and when you thrive you can make a difference

“Rosa Parks’ action was a demonstration of her desire to belong in the US as a black woman. It was a statement that ‘I belong here, and I demand to be accepted here’.” 

Other guest speakers and panellists at the Rosa Parks Symposium are Barry Cusack, Project Support Officer in Bradford Council’s Stronger Communities Team; Mussarat Rahman, Artist and key co-ordinator at Bradford Immigration Asylum Support Network; Professor Alastair Goldman, Director, Local Activity Partnership: Raising Achievement at the University of Bradford; Dr Kendi Guantai, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Leeds and Phillippa Banister, Director of Street Space.