Dec. 1 marked the 60th Anniversary of Rosa Parks becoming a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, December 1, 1965, for refusing to give up her seat in the black section of a city bus to a white passenger.
A 42-year-old seamstress at the time, Parks worked as a secretary for her local chapter of the NACCP, and, in that moment, joined a movement to oppose the laws that called for the separation of races by refusing to give up her seat to a white man.
Parks’ stand represented a pivotal point during the Civil Rights Movement, and several politicians and presidential candidates took the time to remember her Tuesday, with the following statements, below.
“Rosa Parks held no elected office. She was not born into wealth or power. Yet sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks changed America. Like so many giants of her age, Rosa Parks is no longer with us. But her lifetime of activism — and her singular moment of courage — continue to inspire us today.” — President Barack Obama.
“By sitting down at the front of the bus, Rosa Parks inspired a whole nation to demand change. The Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the marches, sit-ins and protests which brought our nation closer to fulfilling the promise of equality. As we fight today for a fair justice system and opportunity for every family in America, let’s remember the power we have when we stand together.” — Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate.
“Our work isn’t finished. We do have to pay it forward. There are still injustices perpetrated every day across our country, sometimes in spite of the law, sometimes unfortunately in keeping with it.” — Hilary Clinton, Presidential Candidate.
“Sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks took a bold stand against racial discrimination by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus. Her quiet, dignified courage sparked a city-wide boycott of the Montgomery bus system that broke the very will of a City heavily steeped in segregation. She inspired a civil rights movement that changed a nation. The Montgomery Bus Boycott stands as a powerful testament of the will of a disenfranchised people to work collectively to achieve extraordinary social change. While we commemorate the progress that has been made, we must also recommit ourselves to the fight for equal justice. We must remain vigilant in the struggle for voting rights, criminal justice reform, and economic equality.” –Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell.
“Most people count it [the Montgomery Bus Boycott] as the first major protest of the civil rights movement. Really, it is the action that launched the civil rights movement across the United States.” –Southern Poverty Law Center Outreach Director Lecia Brooks.
“Sixty years later, there is much Congress can and must do to build on the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and preserve the hard-earned victories of the brave men and women who risked their lives to end segregation, secure the right to vote, and promote equal opportunity. The first step ought to be passing legislation to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, which was undermined by the Supreme Court in 2013. We must also take action to ensure that justice is truly blind in America and that it works for everyone equally. It is our responsibility to honor Rosa Parks and all who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, who took the first bold steps toward a better future, by carrying forward their work and making it our own.” –House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, (D-Maryland).
“It has been 60 years since a woman named Rosa Parks sat in quiet protest on a Montgomery city bus instead of giving up her seat. Little did she know that her quiet act of defiance would help spark the Civil Rights movement. She was a great Alabamian and helped change the state for the better. I join Montgomery and Alabama in celebrating Rosa Parks and her legacy today.”– Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers.
Parks passed away in 2005, at the age of 92. In a 1995 C-Span interview, Parks said she hoped to be remembered as a person who wanted equality for all.
“I’d only like for [historians] to say that I was a person who believed in the freedom and equality for all people, regardless of their race and color, regardless of whatever their religious beliefs may be,” she stated. “All people should be treated equally, and have equal opportunity to make their lives what they should be.”