Sixty-four years after Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give her seat on a segregated bus to a white man, she was honored by the city on Sunday with a statue that officials said would inspire future generations to “do better and be better.”
The statue ― depicting a standing Parks, her hands clutching a purse in front of her — was unveiled by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) at Montgomery Plaza at the Court Street Fountain.
The statue stands about 30 feet from the very spot where Parks is believed to have boarded the public bus on which she’d refused to surrender her seat on Dec. 1, 1955, according to Al.com. Her act of civil disobedience sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott ― a watershed moment in the civil rights movement.
The statue’s unveiling was on the second anniversary of Alabama’s official Rosa Parks Day ― an honor that was approved last year by the state legislature.
“Today, on the second official Rosa Parks Day, we honor a seamstress and a servant, one whose courage ran counter to her physical stature,” Reed, who recently became Montgomery’s first African American mayor, said during the ceremony. “She was a consummate contributor to equality and did so with a quiet humility that is an example for all of us.”
“We are here to be reminded of the struggle so future generations can do better, and be better,” Ivey said. “No one has ever stood so tall as did Rosa Parks when she sat down.”
The city also unveiled granite markers near Park’s statue honoring four women who were plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, the court case that deemed Alabama’s segregation rules for buses to be unconstitutional, Al.com reported.
One of the plaintiffs in that case, Mary Louise Smith, participated in the ceremony Sunday, according to AP.