HONORING THE LIFE OF AND EXPRESSING CONDOLENCES OF THE SENATE ON THE PASSING OF ROSA PARKS -- (Senate - October 25, 2005)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, with the passing of Rosa Parks, the Nation has lost a courageous woman, a true American heroine, and an icon of the civil rights movement. All of us mourn her loss. Half a century ago, Rosa Parks stood up not only for herself but for all future generations of Americans. Her quiet resoluteness in the face of segregation inspired America, transformed the civil rights movement, and roused the moral conscience of the Nation from its long slumber on civil rights. We will never forget her, and our hearts and prayers today are with her loved ones.
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was a seamstress in Montgomery, AL, on her way home by bus from her work. Under the law at that time in Montgomery, and in many other places in the South, Rosa Parks, as an African American, was ordered to give up her seat for a white passenger when the bus became crowded. She refused, was arrested, and lost her job as a result. But her courageous act prompted the African American community to begin a boycott of the Montgomery bus system, which eventually broke the back of the Jim Crow rules in the system, and Montgomery buses were desegregated the following year.
Her later life continued to demonstrate her quiet moral resolve and her extraordinary commitment to doing what is right. She continued her civil rights work after moving to Detroit in 1957, working with the office of Congressman JOHN CONYERS for over 20 years, and later starting the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, a nonprofit organization that motivates youths to reach their highest potential.
In 1996, Rosa Parks was honored by President Clinton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and she received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.
I join my colleagues from Michigan, Senators LEVIN and STABENOW, in support of a resolution honoring the life and accomplishments of Rosa Parks. Her courage, dignity, and determination symbolize the best of America, the spirit of patriotism that challenges us whenever we fail to live up to the highest ideals of our society.
Today, as we mourn the passing of Rosa Parks, we are reminded how much has been accomplished because of her sacrifice, and how much work America still has to do to fully live up to her ideals of equality. We are grateful for her example, and proud to carry on her mission of hope, opportunity, and equal justice for all.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about her courageous step towards equality, ``[N]o one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, `I can take it no longer' ''. Let those words in honor of Rosa Parks be our guide today.