Statement by the President
Rosa Parks held no elected office. She was not born into wealth or power. Yet sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks changed America. Refusing to give up a seat on a segregated bus was the simplest of gestures, but her grace, dignity, and refusal to tolerate injustice helped spark a Civil Rights Movement that spread across America. Just a few days after Rosa Parks’ arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, a little-known, 26 year-old pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. stood by her side, along with thousands of her fellow citizens. Together, they began a boycott. Three-hundred and eighty-five days later, the Montgomery buses were desegregated, and the entire foundation of Jim Crow began to crumble.
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. Rosa Parks reminds us that there is always something we can do. It is always within our power to make America better. Because Rosa Parks kept her seat, thousands of ordinary commuters walked instead of rode. Because they walked, countless other quiet heroes marched. Because they marched, our union is more perfect. Today, we remember their heroism. Most of all, we recommit ourselves to continuing their march.