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Placement of Statue of Rosa Parks in National Statuary Hall

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PLACEMENT OF STATUE OF ROSA PARKS IN NATIONAL STATUARY HALL -- (House of Representatives - November 17, 2005)


Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Millender-McDonald) for yielding.

At the outset, I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hastert) and his staff, specifically Ted Van Der Meid, the majority leader, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), the minority leader, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi) and her staff, specifically Jerry Hartz, Lorraine Miller and William Little.

This legislation simply would not be possible without the leadership of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Ney), the chairman of the House Administration Committee, and his staff, their extraordinary steadfastness and leadership for which we are all grateful, along with the ranking member, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Millender-McDonald) and her staff, specifically George Shevlin and Matt Pinkus.

I especially want to thank my new friend and co-sponsor, the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Rogers) who, along with his staff, worked closely with me and my staff to garner support for this bill. I would like to thank the more than 200 bipartisan co-sponsors of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise today to speak on this very important legislation that will honor the life and work of the late Mrs. Rosa Parks by placing a statue of her in National Statuary Hall. Everyone knows the story of how Mrs. Parks helped spark the modern civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a legally segregated bus that fateful day, December 1, 1955, leading to the Montgomery bus boycott and the emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the beginning Mrs. Parks led a life dedicated to social change, becoming an active member of the Montgomery, Alabama chapter of the NAACP which in the 1940s and 1950s was considered a dangerous organization. It could cost you your job and even your life.

In 1943, along with State president of the NAACP, she mobilized a historic voter registration drive in Montgomery and was later elected NAACP chapter secretary. Mrs. Parks was a courageous woman who possessed the firm and quiet strength necessary to challenge injustice.

Following the 1954 Brown Supreme Court decision which provided equal protection under the law's legal framework, her refusal to give up her seat eventually led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the 1968 Open Housing Act, all of which helped make America a better Nation.

Rosa Parks remained a committed activist until the end of her life. In the 1980s, she worked in support of the South African anti-apartheid movement, and in Detroit in 1997 she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, a career counseling center for African American youth.

With dignity, with grace and courage Rosa Parks inspired generations and helped to make the world a more just and compassionate place. In life she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, the highest honors our Nation bestows on civilians.

This placing of a Rosa Parks statue in National Statuary Hall is a testament to the fact that the long arc of history bends towards freedom, justice and equality.

When Statuary Hall was created by law in 1864, African Americans could not be citizens of the United States. Indeed, the term ``African Americans'' did not exist. Under that law it was impossible for us to be considered favorite sons and favorite daughters of States. When Rosa Parks takes her place in Statuary Hall, she takes with her Frederick Douglass. She takes with her the United States coloreds troops. She takes with her Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. She takes them there.

She takes with her countless, nameless people of African descent, who from slavery to today, sacrificed for an America many would never live to see.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who half statue is not Statuary Hall would implore us, Now is the time.

Let me once again, Mr. Speaker, close by thanking the many people who have worked so hard on a bipartisan basis to bring this bill to the floor. The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Ney), the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Millender-McDonald), House leadership, the minority leader, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi) and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer). Their staffs, Jerry Hartz, Lorraine Miller, William Little. The staff of the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Millender-McDonald), specifically George Shevlin and Matt Pinkus. And also in his absence, the distinguished gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Rogers), who, along with his staff, made it very possible for this bill to be on the floor today.

I would also like to thank Senator Kerry and his staff for introducing the companion bill in the other body and Senators McConnell and Dodd for their leadership on this important issue.

From my staff, Mr. Charles Dujon and Sandi Pessin who have labored late into the night to make the co-sponsors of this legislation comfortable with the language that places Mrs. Parks in National Statuary Hall. Again, I thank my colleagues for their support. I urge Members to join me in honoring this extraordinary woman and voting yes on this important legislation.


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