Parks left legacy for all Americans

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

Rosa Parks was never less than gracious, even in the moment that defined her life and her legacy.

On Sunday and today, the woman whose defiance on a public bus in Montgomery inspired the civil rights movement lies in honor in the Capitol Rotunda &8212; the first black woman ever to do so.

It is a fitting tribute to a woman whose quiet grace 50 years ago spoke so loudly in the face of segregation.

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By having her lie in honor at the Capitol, Congress gave Americans from the president and first lady to ordinary citizens the opportunity to pay their last respects in what may be the most dignified way possible in our country.

Parks was, as one admirer said, &8220;the mother of the civil rights movement.&8221;

She did more than just give up her seat on a bus; she was a quiet but powerful force in a movement that changed America and the world.

The civil rights movemvent was about more than its more famous leaders, and Parks showed that ordinary citizens could do extraordinary acts of courage to inspire others.

Parks and those who supported her embodied Margaret Mead&8217;s quote: &8220;Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it&8217;s the only thing that ever has.&8221;