Rosa Parks statue unveiled in U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall
Hailed by many as the mother of the civil rights movement, Obama celebrated Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a segregated bus as pivotal moment that ‘helped change America and change the world.’
By Dan Hirschhorn / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Washington honored the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks on Wednesday as a woman of “unshakable resolve” who “defied injustice.”
Unveiling a statue of Parks in the Capitol building’s Statuary Hall, President Obama and congressional leaders in both parties hailed Parks as a great American who changed the country for the better.
“She defied the odds and she defied injustice,” Obama said to a crowd that included descendants of Parks. “She lived a life of activism but also a life of dignity and grace. And in a single moment with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America and change the world.”
Parks was a seamstress and civil rights activist when she famously refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala. bus to a white rider in 1955. That launched the Montgomery bus boycott and was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Parks died in 2005. The statue is the result of legislation signed by former President George W. Bush. She’s the first African-American to take a place in Statuary Hall.
“Rosa Parks held no elected office, possessed no fortune, lived far from the halls of power,” Obama said. “And yet today she takes her rightful place among those who have shaped America.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said that with “this statue we affirm that the courage and the cause of Rosa Parks not only earned her a place in the hearts of all Americans but a permanent place in this hall.”
Though Parks held no elected office, McConnell said, “with quiet courage and unshakeable resolve, she did something no less important on a cold Alabama evening in 1955. She helped unite the spirit of America. … We have had the humility as a nation to admit past mistakes. But it has always required people like Rosa Parks to help us get there.”