Statue in U.S. Capitol now honors civil rights icon Rosa Parks - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Statue in U.S. Capitol now honors civil rights icon Rosa Parks

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(Credit: WJBK| Statue of Rosa Parks unveiled in Washington, D.C. (Credit: WJBK| Statue of Rosa Parks unveiled in Washington, D.C.

Detroit civil rights icon Rosa Parks is being honored with a special statue joining other historic figures on display at the U.S. Capitol.

President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and more than 50 of Parks' relatives took part in the ceremony unveiling the full-length statue in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

President Obama said during the event Rosa Parks has now taken her rightful place among those who have shaped the course of U.S. history. "We do well by placing a statue of her here. But we can do no greater honor to her memory than to carry forward the power of her principle and a courage born of conviction."

Click on the video player to hear more of President Barack Obama's speech during the unveiling ceremony.

Parks is famous for her 1955 refusal to give up her seat on a city bus in Alabama to a white man.  She was arrested, touching off a bus boycott that stretched over a year.

Jeanne Theoharis, author of the new biography "The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks," said Parks was very much a full-fledged civil rights activist, yet her contributions have not been treated like those of other movement leaders, such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  After the bus boycott, Parks and her husband lost their jobs and were threatened. They left for Detroit, where Parks was an activist against the war in Vietnam and worked on poverty, housing and racial justice issues, Theoharis said.

Parks becomes the first black woman to be honored with a full-length statue in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.  A bust of another black woman, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, sits in the Capitol Visitors Center.

Parks has been honored previously in Washington with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, both during the Clinton administration.

Parks died Oct. 24, 2005, at age 92. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in her honor on Feb. 4, which would have been her 100th birthday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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