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."
Her act of disobedience, and the masses of protesters who walked for months on end rather than break the boycott, are the reason "that I stand here today," the president said.
"It is because of them that our children grow up in a land more free and more fair, a land truer to its founding creed," Obama said. "And that is why this statue belongs in this hall — to remind us, no matter how humble or lofty our positions, just what it is that leadership requires."