President Barack Obama joined with the top leadership of both political parties on Capitol Hill Wednesday to unveil a new bronze statue of the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
The ceremony, in the "old House chamber" -- now called Statuary Hall -- was both solemn and joyful. When the U.S. Army Chorus began singing "Lift Every Voice," considered by many as an anthem for black Americans, President Obama sang along.
The President and top leaders in Congress together pulled the covering off the bronze statue. It depicts Rosa Parks in a seated position. She famously sparked a widespread civil rights movement by choosing to be arrested, rather than give up her bus seat to a white passenger.
South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn (D) called Parks "the first lady of civil rights, the mother of the movement, a saint in this struggle."
Top Republican leaders also praised Parks' determination. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R--Kentucky) told the assembled crowd, "She took the segregationist-era literacy exam -- a test that was designed to keep many African-Americans before her from registering to vote -- not once; or twice; but three times before she passed it."
President Obama personalized his tribute to Rosa Parks, and the others who joined the year-long bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Their action ended segregation on the transit system.
"It is because of these men and women that I stand here today," said the President in a solemn tone. "It is because of them that our children grow up in a land more free and more fair."
The statue of Parks in the Capitol joins those of many other famous Americans, such as steamboat inventor Robert Fulton, and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.
The new Parks statue appears to be gazing across the floor of Statuary Hall right into the eyes of the statue of Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederacy. (Mississippi put that statue here.)
Interesting neighbors in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.