WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following floor statement today remembering Rosa Parks:
Remarks as prepared:
“Mr. President, yesterday our nation lost one of our heroes, Rosa Parks – the mother of the modern civil rights movement.
“The movement that she helped launch changed not only our country, but the entire world, as her actions gave hope to every individual fighting for civil and human rights.
“While history proudly remembers December 1, 1955 as Rosa Parks’ bravest moment, her fight against oppression and segregation began long before that day.
“Mrs. Parks was active in the Montgomery NAACP, serving as Secretary and as an advisor to the NAACP’s Youth Council. She also worked to register African Americans to vote and was active in many other civil rights cases. While it was her act of defiance in 1955 that garnered national attention, she had been thrown off a bus 12 years earlier – by the same bus driver – for refusing to give up her seat.
“As we all know, Rosa Parks’ bravery triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Boycott gained national attention, ushered an atmosphere of change, and was the precursor to landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Eventually, the issue of segregation and Montgomery’s bus policy ended up in the Supreme Court – another reminder how important the institution is in protecting the rights of every America.
“And let’s not forget something else – - the Boycott introduced the nation to a young preacher named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“While the nation will miss Rosa Parks, we take heart in the fact that her legacy will be felt by generations to come.
“Mr. President, as United States Senators, all of us have a special responsibility when it comes to the legacy of Rosa Parks. It’s not enough for us to celebrate her life with words…as leaders of this country, we must honor it with deeds…..deeds that continue the fight Rosa Parks began fifty years ago.
“Specifically, we must reauthorize the voting rights act which has opened the doors of political participation to countless Americans.
“We must work to increase education opportunities so that all young people have the chance at a better life.
“And we must ensure that our policies build a better America for the meek and vulnerable, not only the powerful and strong.
“This work is how we will truly celebrate the life of Rosa Parks. All of us in this Chamber have it in our power to further the fight she began. And we owe it to every American to ensure her legacy endures.”