National Cathedral to Dedicate Statue of Civil Rights Icon Rosa Parks

The Washington National Cathedral will be dedicating a new statue to late civil and human rights icon Rosa Parks.

A statue of the Alabama-born Parks will be formally installed on the cathedral's Human Rights Porch on Thursday with a dedication ceremony of evening prayer songs by the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys to celebrate.

The Human Rights Porch at the Washington National Cathedral is dedicated to "those who struggle to bring equality and social justice to all people," according to the cathedral website.

Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Bishop John T. Walker have full-figure statues on the porch.

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks made history when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white male passenger in Montgomery, Ala.

Parks, who was active in the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NACCP), was ultimately arrested for violating a city ordinance. The arrest added fuel to a burgeoning civil rights fire and resulted in a 380-day bus boycott organized by Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr.

Parks' refusal to give up her bus seat 57 years ago transformed the history of the United States and made her known as "the mother of the modern-day civil rights movement."

"At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in," Parks had said of the historic day she was arrested.

"I had no idea when I refused to give up my seat on that Montgomery bus that my small action would help put an end to the segregation laws in the South," Parks said.

The civil rights icon died on Oct. 24, 2005, at the age of 92 and just a little more than a month prior to the 50th anniversary of her courageous act.

The Washington National Cathedral is the second largest cathedral in the United States and the sixth largest in the world. Construction for the cathedral began in 1907 and took 83 years to complete.

Congress has designated the Washington National Cathedral as the "National House of Prayer."

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