Rosa Parks was the right woman, for the right time, in the right place.
Fifty-eight years after the quiet, unassuming seamstress refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, Parks was posthumously honored by President Obama with the first-ever full-length statue for a black woman inside the U.S. Capitol.
Her sociopolitical impact on American society can not be overestimated. Her single act of defiance set off a chain of events that revolutionized the U.S. Her bravery not only began the legendary Montgomery Bus Boycott, but had she not been jailed that fateful night, we may never have ever heard of a 25-year-old Baptist preacher who had just moved into town named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement may not have had the same impact. And, just as important, Barack Obama most likely would not have become the 44th president of the United States.
President Obama praised Parks, who died in 2005 in Detroit, for taking action when others did nothing.
“People often live their lives as if in a fog, accepting injustice, rationalizing inequity, tolerating the intolerable,” he said. “We make excuses for inaction. We say to ourselves, ‘That’s not my responsibility. There is nothing I can do.'”
Standing in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, Obama praised the acts of “anonymous courage” that spark movements and result in change.
But he also spoke of what “leadership requires” and said the statute calls on Americans to carry forward the principles Parks stood for.
“Rosa Parks tell us there’s always something we can do,” Obama said.