There’s no better way to kick off Women’s History Month than to honor a woman whose single act of courage launched a movement that continues today.
A statue of Rosa Parks was unveiled recently in Washington, D.C. She is the first African-American to get a full-length statue in the Capitol’s National Statutory Hall. I have only two words in response to this occurrence: Well deserved.
Parks, a civil rights pioneer, is known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. This was in 1955 when racial segregation was the law of the land and people of color were required to sit in the back in the bus. Parks, 42 at the time, was arrested but it didn’t stop there. Her arrest launched a yearlong boycott that eventually led to the integration of Montgomery’s buses. In 1956, the Supreme Court banned segregation on public transportation. Decades later, the nation marvels at the fact that our country is led by the first African-American President. Parks was a fearless leader, and the courage she displayed inspired others to fight for equality for all people.
The statue depicts Parks sitting on the bus, clutching her purse and looking out the window. The structure is 9 feet tall and is made of bronze. The civil rights heroine is worthy of celebration as are other female trailblazers. While Women’s History Month is a time when the world stops to reflect on the contributions of women and the strides made throughout time, this is something that should be ongoing. This recognition does and should continue to happen. Parks died in 2005 at the age of 92, but her legacy lives on.
The unveiling of the statue last week was celebrated by President Barack Obama who spoke during a ceremony, along with a host of congressional leaders and members of Parks’ family. Obama said Parks’ action should inspire us all today, according to a news article in USA Today. It inspired me. I was proud to see her statue on the cover of the newspaper. I thought it was a great launching pad for the month of March. The Parks statue was unveiled Feb. 27, one day before the end of Black History month and on the same day the Supreme Court heard arguments centered on the Voting Rights Act. Signed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, the law requires several states and counties with a history of racial discrimination to clear election-related changes with the federal government. While the Supreme Court’s four liberal justices appeared willing to back the Voting Rights Act, conservative justices were much more critical of the law during the discussion, according to media reports. No matter when the tribute to Parks was revealed to the world, I thought it was a wonderful reflection of how far we’ve come. It’s easy to be inundated with various reasons to celebrate within one month. Whether it is women’s history, St. Patrick’s Day or other holidays, there is often an occasion to celebrate. This was definitely one of those times.