WASHINGTON – Rosa Parks made history in 1955 by refusing to move to the back of the bus – and she will make history again this week when a statue of her is placed in the U.S. Capitol.
It will be the first full-size statue of an African-American in the Capitol collection of more than 180 statues, a popular tourist attraction. There are busts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth, and a statue of Frederick Douglass is expected to be added soon.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the unveiling Wednesday in what congressional leaders describe as an occasion to “recount a watershed event in our history.”
Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., for whom Parks worked, said in an interview: “As humble as she was, she would be overwhelmed by the fact that there would be a statue in Statuary Hall in her honor.”
Eugene Daub was the sculptor, working with his partner, Rob Firmin, according to the Architect of the Capitol office. The bronze statue and its black granite pedestal are nearly 9 feet tall and weigh about 2,700 pounds.
Congress authorized the statue in 2005, shortly after the civil rights pioneer died and became the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol rotunda.
Parks’ arrest for refusing to yield her seat to a white passenger led to a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery, Ala., bus system. The protest was led by King and helped spark the civil rights movement.