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October 28, 2005


Rosa Parks: A Belated Tribute

Rosa Parks
The late civil rights icon Rosa Parks will be the first woman to lie in state in the U. S. Capitol Rotunda, a tribute usually reserved for presidents, soldiers and politicians.

Both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives have voted to honour Parks with this extraordinary national homage.

Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who helped spark the U. S. civil rights movement when she courageously refused to give her seat on an Alabama bus to a white man 50 years ago, died on Monday at the age of 92. Shamefully, she died in a state of almost total poverty, with none of the major human rights organizations offering to provide even the smallest amount of financial support to meet her meager, basic living needs in later life.

"The movement that Rosa Parks helped launch changed not only our country, but the entire world, as her actions gave hope to every individual fighting for civil and human rights.

"We now can honour her in a way deserving of her contributions and legacy," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

According to the Architect of the Capitol, the Capitol Rotunda has been used for this honour only 28 times since 1852. Other Americans so honoured have included Presidents Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and World War II General Douglas MacArthur.

On December 1, 1955, Parks, a 42-year-old mild-mannered seamstress living in the racially segregated south, boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her refusal to give up her seat to a white man led to a subsequent boycott of the city's bus system by black residents,which was led by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who became a central figure in the fight for equal rights for blacks during the 1960s.

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