President Barack Obama will honor pioneering civil rights activist Rosa Parks in an unveiling ceremony of a statue at the US Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 27. The President will deliver remarks at the gathering after an invite from House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Parks will be the first African American honored in such a fashion inside the Capitol.
Although Parks wasn’t the first to resist the racist bus segregation practices in Alabama in the 1950s, she is certainly one of the most heralded and rightly so. With assistance from NAACP organizers, Parks’ case made national headlines, catapulting her to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Her refusal to leave her seat for a White passenger made Parks an iconic figure and she was recognized globally for her act. Her move sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, involving legendary civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy.
On February 1, President Obama released a proclamation statement in honor of the late Rosa Parks, just days ahead of what would have been her 100th birthday on Feb. 4.
From President Obama’s proclamation of the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ day of birth:
As we mark the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ birth, we celebrate the life of a genuine American hero and remind ourselves that although the principle of equality has always been self-evident, it has never been self-executing. It has taken acts of courage from generations of fearless and hopeful Americans to make our country more just. As heirs to the progress won by those who came before us, let us pledge not only to honor their legacy, but also to take up their cause of perfecting our Union.
While statues are typically donated for such ceremonies by individual states and donors, the Republican-majority 109th Congress (January 2006-2007) approved the tribute.