WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama unveiled a full-length statue of Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday,placing Parks among the top history makers in the annals of the U.S. civil rights movement.
Parks’s 1955 refusal to give up her bus seat for a white man and subsequent arrest sparked a bus boycott in Montgomery,Ala.
Obama,joined by congressional leaders and dozens of Parks’s family members,unveiled the 9-foot-tall bronze statue in Statuary Hall in the Capitol. Parks is depicted as seated,wearing a hat and holding a purse. The statue makes Parks the first black woman to be honored with a full statue.
“She defied the odds,and she defied injustice,” Obama said. “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.”
Obama praised Parks’s actions as setting the tone for active participation in the civil rights movement.
“Rosa Parks’s singular act of disobedience launched a movement,” Obama said. “The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blind.”
With this statue,Obama said,Parks has taken her rightful place among U.S. history makers.
“The statue would be a permanent reminder of the courage and cause of Rosa Parks,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,R-Ky. He said the world should be proud of Parks. “Because of her,segregated buses only exist in museums,” McConnell said.
“She was a freedom fighter,” Jackson said. “Rosa Parks got the right to vote in 1955,ten years before Selma.”
More than 40 of Parks’s family members came from across the country to witness the unveiling. For Urana McCauley,36,a niece of Rosa Parks,it was a touching moment.
“I cried the whole time,because Auntie Rosa helped raise us. She told us a lot of things and what went on in her life,” she said. McCauley said her aunt’s actions shaped her life.
“I was so inspired by her struggle — to even vote — that when I turned 18,that was the first thing I wanted to go and do,” McCauley said. “To go and register and vote because of what my aunt went through.”
Reach reporter Eddie Ameh at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire