President Bush has signed legislation honoring the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks with a statue in the U.S. Capitol building.
The public rooms under the great white Capitol Dome are lined with statues honoring America's founding fathers. Now they will be joined by a likeness of a woman often called the mother of the civil rights movement.
"By placing her statue in the heart of the nation's capital, we commemorate her work for a more perfect union, and we commit ourselves to continue to struggle for justice for every American," said Mr. Bush.
Surrounded by several of today's civil rights leaders, the president signed legislation authorizing the statue of Rosa Parks. It will be the first statue in the Capitol building honoring an African-American woman. President Bush said it is a worthy honor, noting with one simple act of defiance, this black seamstress from the deep South inspired a nationwide campaign for equal justice under the law.
"It is fitting that this American hero will now be honored with a monument inside the most visible symbol of American democracy," he said. "We hope that generations of Americans will remember what this brave woman did, and be inspired to add their own contributions to the unfolding story of American freedom for all."
The bill-signing ceremony took place 50 years (to the day) after Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. The arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the city bus system organized by a young local minister, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
The boycott led to a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery, and ultimate to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which desegregated all public accommodations nationwide.
Rosa Parks remained active in the civil rights movement into her 80s, with a series of speeches and appearances around the country. She died on October 24 in her adopted hometown of Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 92. She was buried in Detroit after her body was brought to Washington to lie in honor under the Capitol Dome.