updated 4/27/2006 11:26:58 PM ET 2006-04-28T03:26:58

Gov. Bob Riley has signed legislation that sets up a process to pardon civil rights icon Rosa Parks and hundreds of others arrested for violating segregation-era laws.

Riley signed the bill April 21, without making an official announcement, Jeff Emerson, the governor’s communications director, said Thursday.

Those arrested or family members of those deceased would have to request the pardons under the bill, which passed April 17.

The bill names the new law “The Rosa Parks Act.” It could lead to pardons for Parks, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King and hundreds of others convicted of violating laws aimed at keeping the races separate.

“This bill is a step in the right direction in reconciling the plight of so many Alabamians whose rights and freedoms were compromised over the last century,” said Democratic Rep. Thad McClammy, sponsor of the legislation in the House.

The bill was amended to allow museums, such as The Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery, to continue to display records of the arrests.

Parks was arrested 50 years ago for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus, an event that sparked the historic Montgomery bus boycott.

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