Nightly News   |  February 27, 2013

Rosa Parks sculptor aimed to portray her 'modesty'

Sculptor Eugene Daub, who created the likeness of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, described why he decided not to show the famous bus seat that Parks refused to give up. The unveiling of the sculpture was especially poignant for Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who said Parks paved the way for other African-American luminaries and 'gave me a way out.' NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we end tonight where we started the broadcast, the civil rights struggle in this country. rosa parks became a huge figure in her own modest way when she took her seat on a montgomery, alabama bus in 1955 . she couldn't know then that over a half century later her statue would be unveiled in the u.s. capitol . nbc's kelly o'donnell was there.

>> ladies and gentlemen , the statue of rosa parks .

>> reporter: history lived and history made.

>> rosa parks ' singular act of disobedience launched a movement.

>> reporter: until today, until rosa parks , no african- american woman has ever been honored in this way. a statue among the nation's war heroes and presidents.

>> ms. parks, alone in that seat, clutching her purse, staring out a window. waiting to be arrested.

>> reporter: montgomery, alabama, 1955 . on a segregated bus, parks took a stand, determined that she would remain seated, refusing the driver's order to make way for a white customer. her cause helped change the course of a long civil rights struggle. a legacy richly documented and carried on by a friend who was there.

>> i loved her. because she gave me a way out.

>> reporter: congressman john lewis says parks, who died in 2005 , had not sought attention, but came to accept that she was a symbol that inspired.

>> without rosa parks , there wouldn't have been martin luther king jr . and maybe without rosa parks and martin luther king jr ., there wouldn't be barack obama .

>> reporter: hundreds of photos.

>> she seemed to me a very -- not shy, but modest. a very modest woman. and i wanted that -- that to come through. her modesty.

>> reporter: he worked from clay to fashion a likeness that was ultimately cast in bronze.

>> we wanted to come up with something that was unique and was somehow even more symbolic than the seat itself, which was the fact of her determination.

>> reporter: now rosa parks courage holds a permanent place of honor. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, the capitol.