Parks's civil rights movement colleague Jesse Jackson, whose son former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. sponsored the bill to place Parks's statue in the Capitol, said Parks "fought her way into history," and on three occasions, took literacy tests required of blacks who wanted to vote. She passed all three, Jackson said.
Parks's statue is positioned between those of suffragist Frances E. Willard and John Gorrie, considered the father of refrigeration and air conditioning. Boehner, R-Ohio, pointed out that Parks' gaze seems to fall directly onto a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.
"Here in the hall, she casts an unlikely silhouette — unassuming in a lineup of proud stares, challenging all of us once more to look up and to draw strength from stillness," Boehner said.
Parks died in 2005 at age 92. Dozens of her family members, many of them nieces and nephews, attended Wednesday's ceremony and said they were pleased to see their ancestor honored.
"Racism is a continual struggle," said Zakiya McCauley Watts, 28, of Detroit. "We have the laws, but we have to have the mind-set to back that up. People see all types of injustice happening and no one is doing anything about it," Watts said.
Watts' cousin Faye Jenkins, 28, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said she volunteers with inner-city youth providing counseling, helping teenage moms and working with the homeless. She said the statue of Parks will tell the younger generation "to always just do the right thing."