On the death of Rosa Parks

Congressman G.K. Butterfield, the 1st District Democrat who represents Henderson and northern Vance County, issued the following statement today on the death of Rosa Parks:

In a simple act of defiance nearly 50 years ago, a black seamstress refused to surrender her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala. Rosa Parks’ refusal to be treated any less than equal was a great blow to racial segregation as it provided the spark to ignite the civil rights movement.

In losing Rosa Parks, our nation has lost a true American hero — a hero with the courage to stand up not only for herself, but for many generations of people before her who lacked equality and justice in America.

Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience put her at great risk — risk of jail and even physical harm. For her defiance, Mrs. Parks was arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws and fined $10, plus $4 in court fees. In response, blacks boycotted the Montgomery buses for more than a year and launched a successful Supreme Court challenge to the Jim Crow law that made blacks second-class citizens on the public bus system.

These events captivated the nation and propelled a 26-year-old preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. into a major civil rights leader. Dr. King, the new pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, was named as head of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization formed to direct the just-budding civil rights struggle. With the energy Mrs. Parks’
spark provided, the civil rights movement was able to fully bloom.

By sitting down on that bus on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks showed us all how powerful one person can be when standing up for what is right and just. We have all been blessed by her courage and strength.