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Senate Approves Resolution Honoring the Life of Rosa Parks

On October 25, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, a resolution (S. Res. 287) honoring the life of Rosa Parks, who passed away on Monday, October 24. Ms. Parks will be the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the resolution contains a number of findings, including:

  • Rosa Parks and her husband, Raymond, worked in the Montgomery, Alabama branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where Raymond Parks served as an active member and Rosa Parks served as a secretary and youth leader;
  • On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat in the “colored” section of the bus to a white man on the orders of the bus driver because the “white” section was full;
  • The arrest of Rosa Parks led African Americans and others to boycott the Montgomery city bus line until the buses in Montgomery were desegregated;
  • Most historians date the beginning of the modern-day Civil Rights Movement in the United States to December 1, 1955;
  • Rosa Parks continued her civil rights work by starting the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in 1987, a nonprofit organization that motivates young people to reach their highest potential;
  • Rosa Parks has been commended for her work in the realm of civil rights with such recognitions as the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal;
  • Time Magazine named Rosa Parks one of the “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century”; and
  • In 1988, Rosa Parks said: “I am leaving this legacy to all of you…to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die the dream of freedom and peace.”


Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said that “on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, AL, a seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat near the front of the city bus so a White person could sit there. Like a shot heard round the world, her act of civil disobedience spurred the movement to gain social and political equality for Black people in this country. It is almost hard to recover, half a century later, a sense of how much courage it took for her to do what she did. By remaining seated, she violated a local segregation law that consigned African Americans to second-class citizenship. She was arrested for disorderly conduct, and the incident galvanized the Montgomery bus boycott, propelling Martin Luther King, Jr., the boycott’s leader, to a national role in the civil rights movement. An ancient poet once said, ‘A good reputation is more valuable than money.’ Rosa Parks’ sterling reputation was what civil rights leaders banked on in putting her in the spotlight for the cause that day and they were never disappointed. Throughout her long life she exemplified honesty, integrity, and dignity, and articulated the all-important principle that political and social equality is every American’s due.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said that Rosa Parks “has played a guiding role not only in the lives of countless individuals but, over the last half-century, in the shape of our ever-evolving Nation. Throughout it all, she has been a great American teacher. From Rosa Parks, we learned what it takes to be courageous in the face of oppression and hate. From Rosa Parks, we learned that sometimes to be strong is to say ‘No.’ From Rosa Parks we learned that freedom without equality is no freedom at all. And from Rosa Parks we learned that fighting the bonds of orthodoxy and confronting the sources of ignorance is a noble and urgent cause. Rosa Parks’ legacy reminds us that a lone person can affect great change; many people working together with united purpose can achieve even more. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the young Montgomery preacher who helped to transform Rosa Parks’ act of resistance into a powerful movement, would later say the ‘arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ If we are to honor the legacy of Rosa Parks, we must never rest in our pursuit of that justice.”

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