31 October 2005

Rosa Parks Makes History Again. . .

I must say that I'm quite impressed and deeply moved by the honours the government has bestowed upon Rosa Parks.


Mourners Pay Homage To Rosa Parks
Thousands of people have been lining up to pay respects to US civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who died last week.

Her body is lying in the building housing the US Congress, a rare honour given usually only to presidents and other eminent political figures.

President Bush ordered flags at home and abroad to be flown at half mast.

Her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Alabama in 1955 prompted a mass black boycott of buses, organised by Martin Luther King Jr.

Mrs Parks' actions inspired the mass movement which culminated in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and an end to segregation.

Earlier hundreds including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended a memorial service in Alabama.

Ms Rice told those gathered: "I can honestly say that without Mrs Parks, I would not be standing here today as secretary of state."

Mrs Parks died at her Detroit home last Tuesday aged 92.


Sunday's memorial was held at the St Paul AME church in Montgomery, where Mrs Parks was once a member.

An additional wing had to be opened to accommodate the large number of mourners.

The governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, said: "I firmly believe God puts different people in different parts of history so great things can happen. I think Rosa Parks is one of those people."

The body of Mrs Parks was then taken to Washington to lie in honour at the US Capitol Rotunda until Monday.

Crowds cheered loudly as the motorcade, led by Parks' hearse and a vintage DC Metro bus, arrived.

President George W Bush and other senior figures paid tribute to her, along with thousands of other mourners.

The coffin was carried up the steps to the Capitol and placed in the centre of the Rotunda, a large circular room below the Capitol's dome.

"Tonight, inspired by her life and leadership, as your free children, we say to Mrs Rosa Parks: Ride on, ride on, ride on in the direction of endless hope to the table of equal justice and eternal peace," said the Reverend Daniel Coughlin, the chaplain of the House of Representatives.

Only 30 people have lain in honour there since 1852, none of them women.

Mrs Parks' body will be flown on Monday to Detroit for burial.

Mrs Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honour, three years later.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/10/31 02:18:34 GMT



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