Washington -- President Bush, after praising civil rights
catalyst Rosa Parks for showing “that one candle can
light the darkness,” on December 1 signed into law legislation
directing that a statue of Parks be placed in the National
Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
President George W. Bush is seen Thursday, Dec. 1. 2005 in the Eisenhower Executuive Office Building in Washington, as he poses for photos with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his children, Jesse Jackson III and Jessica, following the signing of H.R. 4145, to Direct the Joint Committee on the Library to Obtain a Statue of Rosa Parks, which will be placed in the US Capitol's National Statuary Hall. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is seen at left.
President Bush signing into law legislation directing that a statue of Parks be placed in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. The President is joined by, from left to right, U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, Mrs. Laura Bush, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
Fifty years earlier, to the day, Parks refused
to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama
bus. Her arrest, and the “Montgomery Bus Boycott”
that followed, helped launch the modern civil rights movement
in the United States. (See related
Like other institutionalized evils, Bush
said, segregation could not survive once its ugliness was
“held up to the light” by Parks, who “called
America back to its founding promise of equality and justice
Among the attendees at the Washington ceremony
were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Housing
and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, senators Richard
Lugar, John Kerry and Thad Cochran, Representative Jesse
Jackson Jr. and Elaine Steele, co-founder of the Rosa and
Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development.
The National Statuary Hall is the large,
two-story semicircular room south of the Capitol rotunda.
It houses statues of important U.S. historical figures.
A transcript of the president’s remarks
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
December 1, 2005
Remarks By The President at the Signing
Of H.R. 4145 to Direct the Joint Committee on the Library
to Obtain a Statute Of Rosa Parks and To Place The Statue
in the United States Capitol
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome. Please be seated.
Thank you all for being here. Laura and I thank you for
joining us on this special day.
Fifty years ago an African American woman
named Rosa Parks helped set in motion a national movement
for equality and freedom when she refused a bus driver's
order to give her seat to a white man. The bill I'm about
to sign calls for a statue of Rosa Parks to be placed in
the Capitol's National Statuary Hall. (Applause.)
By placing her statue in the heart of the
nation's Capitol, we commemorate her work for a more perfect
union, and we commit ourselves to continue to struggle for
justice for every American.
I'm honored the Secretary of State has joined
us, as well as Secretary Alphonso Jackson. I want to thank
the bill sponsors, Jesse Jackson, Jr. -- I see you brought
some of your family with you. (Laughter.) Senator John Kerry,
Senator Thad Cochran; Senator Dick Lugar joining us, as
I'm proud that Bruce Gordon is here. He's
the President and CEO of the NAACP. Thanks for joining us,
Bruce. I want to thank all the civil rights leaders who've
joined us, as well. I particularly want to say thanks to
Elaine Steele, Representative of the Rosa Parks Institute.
MS. STEELE: Right here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Welcome. (Applause.)
We've got a seat for you.
It's great to see Dr. Dorothy Height, as
well. Welcome, Dr. Height. (Applause.) I want to thank all
of Rosa Parks' family who have joined us as well; you're
kind to come.
Rosa Parks was a daughter of the South who
worked as a seamstress at a department store in a Montgomery,
Alabama. On December 1, 1955, she boarded a city bus. Under
local and state law, African Americans had to give up their
seats if any white people were standing. But after a lifetime
of discrimination and a hard day's work, Rosa refused. As
she would later say, "I wasn't tired physically, or
no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working
day... No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
By refusing to give in, Rosa Parks showed
that one candle can light the darkness. Like so many institutionalized
evils, segregation ultimately depended on public accommodation.
Like so many institutionalized evils, once the ugliness
of these laws was held up to the light, they could not stand.
Like so many institutionalized evils, these laws proved
no match for the power of an awakened conscience -- and
as a result, the cruelty and humiliation of the Jim Crow
laws are now a thing of the past.
By refusing to give in, Rosa Parks helped
inspire a nationwide effort for equal justice under the
law. When she refused to yield her seat, Mrs. Parks was
arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws, and
fined $10, plus $4 dollars in court fees. Her arrest sparked
a boycott of the Montgomery bus lines by its black passengers,
and the formation of a local association of African-Americans
led by a young preacher named Martin Luther King, Junior.
The boycott ended more than a year later, after the Supreme
Court struck down segregation on buses. What had begun as
a simple act of civil disobedience ended up galvanizing
the modern movement for civil rights.
By refusing to give in, Rosa Parks called
America back to its founding promise of equality and justice
for everyone. When the police officer boarded the bus and
told the seamstress that he had to arrest her, he explained
that the law was the law. Rosa and the black ministers who
defended her invoked the Constitution and pointed to a higher
law. Our Declaration of Independence makes clear that the
human right to dignity and equality is not a grant of government
-- it is a gift from the Author of Life. (Applause.) And
by holding our nation true to the words of its founding
document, Rosa Parks helped her fellow African-Americans
claim their God-given freedoms and made America a better
Eventually the civil rights movement would
succeed in persuading Congress to pass more sweeping legislation
that dealt with voting rights and discrimination in public
places, and school segregation -- and the United States
Congress should renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Applause.)
Dr. King liked to say that our Civil Rights
Act was written in the streets by the citizens who marched
for justice and equality. And on this day we remember the
great inspiration this movement drew from the quiet courage
shown by an Alabama woman riding home on a Cleveland Avenue
It is fitting that this American hero will
now be honored with a monument inside the most visible symbol
of American democracy. We hope that generations of Americans
will remember what this brave woman did, and be inspired
to add their own contributions to the unfolding story of
American freedom for all.
And now it's my honor to sign the bill that
will make Rosa Parks the first African American woman to
be honored with a statue in our nation's Capitol. (Applause.)
(The bill was signed.) (Applause.)