U.S. leaders honor civil rights activist Rosa Parks with statue

Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:28pm EST
 
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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American leaders unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks on Wednesday, briefly setting aside political differences to honor the civil rights heroine, who became the first black woman to have a monument inside the U.S. Capitol.

Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a segregated Alabama bus for a white passenger in 1955 sparked a boycott that galvanized the movement for equal rights for blacks in Montgomery and nationwide.

Black men and women stayed off the buses, walking or arranging other rides to work for more than a year to fight for desegregation.

President Barack Obama joined congressional leaders from both political parties to unveil the statue of Parks, who died in 2005 at age 92.

Unlike nearby statues of men standing, the one of Parks shows her seated - the position of quiet resistance that led to her arrest.

"We celebrate a seamstress, slight in stature but mighty in courage," Obama said in his remarks.

"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," he said.

Obama, who seemed moved by the spirited singing of a military chorus, joined Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at the event.   Continued...

 
U.S. President Barack Obama applauds during the unveiling ceremony for the Rosa Parks statue in the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque