Rosa Parks, hero of the civil rights movement, became the first black woman to be memorialized with a life-sized statue in the U.S. Capitol today. And to that I say ... about time and hallelujah!
The statue of Parks is seated, depicting her pose as she waited to be arrested for her simple, yet incredible, act of bravery and defiance: refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a segregated bus, a mere half a century ago in Alabama. It’s a perfect memorial for the woman and the act that helped spur the civil right movement, end the scourge of segregation, and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. It’s a reminder that anyone can make a difference by acting with integrity and the courage of their convictions.
"Rosa Parks' singular act of disobedience launched a movement," President Obama said at today’s unveiling ceremony. He talked about how Parks, who would have turned 100 this month, didn't hold a public office, and she sure wasn't wealthy, but she made an incredible impact on our nation and on the lives of all our people.
I am so, so proud to show the video of the unveiling to my daughter, and I look forward to taking her to visit the statue in person. It’s a shame that Parks is the first and only black woman to be honored with a full-sized statue in the Capital -- surely there are others deserving of the honor! In fact, Parks won’t have many female companions of any color: of the over 100 statures in Statuary Hall, guess how many were women before Parks came along? NINE.
Sigh. Well, it’s progress, right? I do love that Parks is actually in Statuary Hall, where, as Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio pointed out, she’ll be right in the eyeline of Jefferson Davis, the Mississippi senator who became president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. YES! And what a perfect way to end Black History Month 2013 and kickoff the start of Women's History Month 2013.
Who else do you think should have a full-sized statue, along with Rosa Parks?