President Obama said Parks, who is considered the mother of the civil rights movement, "changed America," in a statement Tuesday to mark the landmark anniversary.
The people of Montgomery were tired of being treated as second-class citizens and, under the leadership of a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr., challenged the racist system. Their fight led to the Supreme Court ruling segregation on buses in Alabama unconstitutional on Nov. 13, 1956.
"Refusing to give up a seat on a segregated bus was the simplest of gestures, but her grace, dignity, and refusal to tolerate injustice helped spark a civil rights movement that spread across America," Obama expressed.
The president previously honored Parks during an unveiling of a bronze statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall in 2013. She is the first Black woman to be honored there. Obama also issued a proclamation to honor her 100th birthday the same year.
"Like so many giants of her age, Rosa Parks is no longer with us," Obama continued. But her lifetime of activism — and her singular moment of courage — continue to inspire us today. Rosa Parks reminds us that there is always something we can do. It is always within our power to make America better."
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(Photo: Pete Souza/White House Photo via Getty Images)