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Rep. John Lewis on Unveiling of Rosa Parks Statue in the Capitol

February 27, 2013
Press Release

                WASHINGTON--Today at an official ceremony in the U.S. Capitol, the House and Senate leadership and President Barack Obama gathered to unveil the celebrated statute of Rosa Parks that was placed in Statuary Hall today.  The hall is located in the oldest section of the Capitol where the Congresses  of this nation’s founders held their first legislative sessions.  Throughout the Capitol, there are two statues representing the historic legacy of each of the 50 states.  Now 36 statues currently occupy Statuary Hall, and that of Rosa Parks will be the first full standing replica of an individual of African American descent within the Capitol building.  A bust of Martin Luther King Jr.’s image also resides in the hall.  Rep. Lewis made these remarks after the statue was unveiled:

                “Rosa Parks was an inspiring woman.  Her life and her legacy demonstrate what an ordinary citizen with extraordinary vision can do to change the course of a nation’s history.  Even though I grew up only about 40 miles from Montgomery, I never met Rosa Parks until I became involved in the student movement at Fisk University in Nashville.   I was only 15 years old during the Montgomery bus boycott, but I, like everyone else I knew in Alabama, had a deep admiration and respect for Rosa Parks because of her dignity, her courage, and her integrity.

                “When Rosa Parks decided to sit down, she inspired thousands of others to stand up against segregation and racial discrimination.  And her story still inspires young people and activists from around the world today who resist unjust laws and traditions that disrespect the dignity of human kind.  Without this one woman, without Rosa Parks, there would be no Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama would not be President of the United States.  This entire nation owes her a debt of gratitude for all that she sacrificed, stood for and continues to symbolize to make this society and this world community a better place.”