More than 200 people linked arms and marched through Rosa Parks’ hometown to pay tribute to the late civil rights pioneer.
Organizers said Wednesday’s march represented the 50,000 people who took part in the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott after Parks’ historic act of defiance sparked the modern civil rights movement.
“Today we wanted to march one more time for Rosa,” Mayor Johnny Ford said.
The memorial was one of a series of events scheduled to commemorate Parks, who died Monday at the age of 92. On Dec. 1, 1955 she refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system.
Finally, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared Montgomery’s segregated seating laws unconstitutional. The effort highlighted persistent bias against blacks across the nation.
Memorial services planned
Parks will lie in repose Saturday at the St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Montgomery, Ala., and a memorial service will be held at the church Sunday morning.
She then will lie in repose at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington Sunday evening, Karen Dumas, a spokeswoman for the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, said Wednesday night.
A memorial service will be held Monday at the Historical Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington.
From Monday night until Wednesday morning, Parks will lie in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Her funeral will be held Nov. 2 at Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit.
Wednesday’s march began in the courthouse square in downtown Tuskegee and went on for about four blocks to city hall, where Mayor Johnny Ford called on President Bush and Congress to designate a national park site for Parks.
'She changed everything'
Among those speaking to the crowd at city hall was attorney Fred Gray, a longtime friend to Parks and one of the attorneys who represented her after her arrest.
“We were able to build a movement on her foundation of courage,” Gray said. “It’s a model of how we should go forward addressing our challenges today.”
The Rev. Farrell Duncombe, of the Washington Chapel A.M.E. in Tuskegee, lamented that Parks left Montgomery for Detroit because she couldn’t find work and “because many of the citizens in Montgomery were afraid to embrace her.”
Elora Wood, 50, who was only an infant during the bus incident, was one of the marchers during Wednesday’s memorial.
“I wanted to be a part of history,” Wood said. “She changed everything. She opened the way for my generation."