Politicians unveiled a new statue of Rosa Parks in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Parks, the woman whose refusal to give up her bus seat spurred a year-long bus boycott in 1955, is the first black woman to be honored with a full-sized statue in Statuary Hall.
The nation's most powerful politicians honored Rosa Parks on Wednesday by unveiling her statue in a permanent place in the US Capitol. President Obama praised Parks as an enduring reminder of what true leadership requires, "no matter how humble or lofty our positions."
Parks became the first black woman to be depicted in a full-length statue in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. A bust of another black woman, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, sits in the Capitol Visitors Center.
"We do well by placing a statue of her here," Mr. Obama said. "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."
The unveiling brought Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and other congressional leaders together in the midst of a fierce standoff over automatic spending cuts set to go into effect on Friday.
Setting that conflict aside, Obama and Mr. Boehner stood on either side of a blue drape, tugging and pulling in opposite directions on a braided cord until the cover fell to reveal a 2,700-pound bronze statue of a seated Parks, her hair in a bun under a hat, her hands crossed over her lap and clasping her purse. Obama gazed up at it, and touched its arm.
At the same time across the street, conservative Supreme Court justices voiced skepticism about the relevance of the Voting Rights Act, one of the major legislative victories of the movement to which Parks devoted her life.