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:
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.”