Cesar E. Chavez & Rosa Parks Scholarship Descriptions

Descriptions of Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez Scholarships

Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez dedicated their lives to fighting for human rights and social justice.

Rosa Parks is best known for her refusal to relinquish her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, despite the Jim Crow laws that were then in effect. Her refusal would have a dramatic impact not only on Alabama but on the entire country. Park's actions led directly to the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-1956, a successful mass movement that propelled Martin Luther King to national fame. Parks died in Detroit, Michigan in 2005.

Union leader and labor organizer Cesar Chavez brought national attention to the economic and physical plight of farm workers. In 1962, Chavez and Dolores Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Association, which became known as the United Farm Workers Union in 1965. Implementing a nonviolent approach, Chavez and Huerta organized a series of marches and boycotts, including the Delano Grape Strike; and the former went on several hunger strikes, which some scholars believe contributed to his death in 1993.

The Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez Scholarship Competitions are designed to give students an opportunity to explore and research both domestic and/or global issues regarding social justice, human rights, and injustice or discrimination in all forms; and express their thoughts regarding the ideals that Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez represent.

The Rosa Parks Scholarship Competition was established in 1989 by Dr. Vivian García-Conover, a former colleague of Dr. Andrea O’Reilly Herrera’s during her tenure at SUNY, Fredonia. With Dr. García-Conover’s permission, O’Reilly Herrera established the first Rosa Parks Scholarship competition at UCCS in 2000. The first scholarship awards were generously funded by her parents, Hubert and Teresa.

In 2004, a group of Dr. Herrera’s students in her Introduction to Ethnic Studies class requested permission to establish a second scholarship competition that would focus on undergraduate research and critical writing, and thereby distinguish the Rosa Parks Scholarship competition, which would from that time forward exclusively feature creative work. With Dr. Herrera’s encouragement, these students consequently secured permission to use the official logo of the Cesar Chavez Foundation; and Chancellor Pamela Shockley agreed to assist Dr. Herrera in permanently funding the scholarship competitions. As a result of these dedicated students’ efforts, the first Cesar Chavez Scholarship competition was held in the spring of 2005

The Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez Scholarship competitions have provided a unique forum to showcase UCCS undergraduate students’ scholarly and creative talents. All entries are judged according to the following criteria: 1) quality and execution; and 2) relevance to the scholarships’ central themes. The competition is open to all undergraduate students; during the spring semester student award winners are feted at an annual award ceremony and reception, which is open to the public.