Those who fought for civil rights, those who still benefit from the movement and those whose eyes were opened to injustice can be proud of the legacy left by Alabama native Rosa Parks.
Parks received a lasting tribute Wednesday when President Barack Obama and others unveiled a statue of her likeness in Washington. Visitors from around the world can view the statue in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall and learn about Parks’ contributions to society.
She is best known for refusing to give up her seat to a white man while riding on a bus in Montgomery on Dec. 5, 1955. But she made many contributions to the civil rights movement and other causes that were not always known, even by her own family.
Jeanne Theoharis, author of “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” said these contributions have not received the same respect as those by other civil rights activists.
She and her husband, Raymond Parks, worked to help the Scottsboro Boys, nine blacks accused of raping two white women in 1931. She served as secretary of the NAACP’s Montgomery branch, and worked to fight for black voting rights and to investigate sexual violence against women. Later, she worked on issues related to poverty, housing, racial justice and the Vietnam War.
After the Montgomery bus boycott, Parks and her husband lost their jobs, received threats and moved out of Alabama.
The state’s tragic role in history cannot and should not be forgotten. But Alabama residents and leaders can embrace the legacy of courageous leaders such as Rosa Parks, and ensure that the march toward justice continues.
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