Director of the Rosa Parks Museum Dr. Felicia A. Bell has been immersed in history for decades. Her work at the Museum to help others connect with the past brings her the hope that increased understanding will shape our future for the better.
How long have you been with the Museum?
Almost four years. I hail from Hinesville, Georgia. I have been a museum professional for 20 years as a museum educator.
What does your job at the Museum entail?
My work includes managing the annual bud-get; supervising the staff; creating and developing educational programs; selecting and curating exhibitions for the gallery; cultivating and securing major gifts, grants and acquisitions; developing partnerships; and more.
What makes Rosa Parks’ story such an important piece of Montgomery’s story?
The story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott is essential to the story of Montgomery. Everyone should experience this historically significant place to learn about her courage and that of the many “foot soldiers” of the boycott, which changed the course of American history and inspired generations all over the world.
How does the Museum “tell” this important story?
Through its permanent exhibition, which features a film re-enactment of the December 1, 1955, arrest of Rosa Parks on a bus from the 1950s, a station wagon or “rolling church” used during the boycott, and interactive videos of protester interviews and footage from the boycott. The staff at the Museum make this story relevant today by organizing education-al and outreach programs, which address current issues related to the legacy of Rosa Parks.
What’s your favorite thing about your work?
Seeing visitors engaged and moved by the art exhibitions and programs at the Museum. I like to see people reading labels, examining the artwork, asking questions and sharing stories. We encourage our visitors to think critically about Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the ongoing struggle for equality.
Setting the record straight:
On November 7, 2007, Dr. Bell presented expert witness testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration’s Hearing on the Construction of the United States Capitol: Recognizing the Contributions of Slave Labor. Her testimony led to the inclusion of enslaved labor in the interpretation of the history of the Capitol.