“On the 64th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, we honor Rosa Parks by dedicating this statue in her name. I hope its presence will remind us of the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and ensure that future generations will be better and do better,” tweeted Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
It was December 1, 1955, when Parks, as part of a coalition of labor organizers and civil rights activists, launched her protest against the segregated Montgomery public bus system. When she refused to give up her seat to a White patron, she was arrested, which was required by the racist law at the time. Her dignified protest started a boycott, which lasted 381 days and eventually launched a movement that ultimately changed the U.S. as we know it.
Parks and Black Montgomery’s protest was taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Montgomery and the Jim Crow South’s system of segregation was a violation of the rights of citizens guaranteed by the 14th amendment, and was thus unconstitutional.
“Today, on the second official Rosa Parks Day, we honor a seamstress and a servant, one whose courage ran counter to her physical stature,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed. “She was a consummate contributor to equality and did so with a quiet humility that is an example for all of us.”
The city of Montgomery last year declared December 1st as Rosa Parks Day.
Parks, who passed in 2005, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, by then-President Bill Clinton in 1999. The award is Congress’ highest civilian honor; Parks was given the award for her role as a pioneer in what was to become known as the Civil Rights Movement. She has been honored in the U.S. and all over the world for her courage and inspiration.
Reed is the first African American mayor in Montgomery’s history. Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, was the infamous first capital of the Confederacy. “Protesting and change has always, I think, been in the DNA of people here,” he said.
“It’s important to make that activism relevant today,” Reed said in an interview speaking of Parks. “It’s not what you post on Instagram or what you tweet, but what are you actually going to do. That’s a legacy we can pass on.”