Congress and President Obama came together for the unveiling Rosa Parks’ statue in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building. Forty members of Rosa Parks’ family were there, as well as high government officials and civil rights activists.
MR. MARTIN: Welcome back.
As we’ve just heard, Washington showed its profound dysfunction when $85 billion in budget cuts that almost no one wants, went into effect. The cost will become clear in the weeks and months ahead.
But there was one shining moment where the Congress and the President came together for the unveiling this week of a statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Her statue will be the first of an African-American woman in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building.
Forty members of Rosa Parks’ family were there, as well as high government officials and civil rights activists. I was in the Hall as the President spoke.
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PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Rosa Parks’ singular act of disobedience launched a movement. The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blind. It is because of these men and women that I stand here today. It is because of them that our children grow up in a land more free and more fair, a land truer to its founding creed.
And that is why this statue belongs in this hall: to remind us – no matter how humble or lofty our positions – just what it is that leadership requires, just what it is that citizenship requires.
Rosa Parks would’ve turned 100 years old this month. We do well by placing a statue of her here, but we can do no greater honor to her memory than to carry forward the power of her principle and a courage born of conviction.
[END OF VIDEO CLIP. ON LOCATION.]
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW: The most important thing is what the President said, which was we need to live her values every day, as well as celebrate her life.
MR. WENDELL ANTHONY: I’m just pleased to be here, Roland. It was historic.
I just wish the words that were uttered so beautifully by everyone would be transformed into public policy. To hear Mitch McConnell talk about the strength of Rosa Parks –
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Because of the changes she helped set in motion, entire generations of Americans have been able to grow up in a nation where segregated buses only exist in museums, where children of every race are free to fulfill their God-given potential, and where this simple carpenter’s daughter from Tuskegee is honored as a national hero.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER: Today, we gather to dedicate a national statue of the late Rosa Louis Parks in recognition of her many contributions to this nation and to the cause of freedom.
[END OF VIDEO CLIP.]
MR. ANTHONY: To hear John Boehner talk about the fact that this woman is here in the [Statuary] Hall of Freedom and set a mark for the nation – let’s move the agenda forward. Let’s stop the voter suppression. Let the Supreme Court make the right decision and maintain voting rights, because we’ve crossed one river. We’ve still got some rivers to cross – thanks to Rosa Parks.
REP. MAXINE WATERS: At the Supreme Court, they’re discussing today the fact that Section 5 of the Voting Rights [Act] maybe should be stopped, that it should be cut out of the Voting Rights [Act] altogether because somehow they believe it’s not needed anymore. And as we stand here in this hall, unveiling this statue of Rosa Parks, who fought hard for justice, freedom, equality and all of that – including voting rights – we can’t help but say, “Something’s wrong with this picture.”
MR. WENDELL PIERCE: You have to always remember that my mother always taught me that there are those who don’t have our best interests at heart. So, those are empty words when you see the effort that they went through in the last election cycle to suppress the vote. It just shows you that, no matter what they may say, they’re speaking with a forked tongue; and that we have fought too long and hard to get where we are to stop now.
That’s the legacy of Rosa Parks and all those civil rights leaders who taught us something in the 20th century that we have to keep going in the 21st century, because there are those who do not have our best interests and heart and will do everything to suppress our vote.
REP. WATERS: Despite the fact, we had people in leadership on the program who certainly haven’t demonstrated their support for this president, or for voting rights or civil rights. There may be one great thing that came out of this today: a reminder to them we know how to fight, and that Rosa Parks is the standard. And if they get that, they’ll understand that we’re prepared to do whatever’s necessary to protect our civil rights and our voting rights.
MR. MARTIN: I’ll tell you one thing that’s interesting, being in Statuary Hall. You have the Rosa Parks statue, and across the way is that of Jefferson Davis, the man that I call one of the biggest traitors in American history, who wanted to keep black folks in slavery.
Man! Wouldn’t that be a conversation!