Story at a glance
- A statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks now stands in Montgomery, Ala.
- Parks was a key player in the journey to end segregation on public buses and went on to support the broader civil rights movement.
- Other activists who led the Montgomery Bus Boycott were also honored.
On Dec. 1, Montgomery’s Court Square became the home of a new statue of Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist who steadfastly refused to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, on the anniversary of Parks's civil disobedience, the statue was unveiled at Dexter Avenue in front of the state capitol building, Her statue was accompanied by two other memorials dedicated to the plaintiffs of Browder v. Gayle, a similar case that ruled bus segregation unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. Those women are Aurelia Browder, Claudette Colvin, Susie McDonald and Mary Louise Smith.
Both of these cases catalyzed the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which African Americans refused to ride Montgomery city buses to protest the segregation policy. The boycott lasted from Dec. 5, 1955 to Dec. 20, 1956, ending on the day the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Montgomery district court’s decision to end bus segregation.
In attendance at yesterday’s ceremony was Fred Gray, a notable civil rights attorney and leader who defended both Rosa Parks and the four women plaintiffs in Browder v Gayle. One of the plaintiffs, Mary Louise Smith, was also present. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey helped unveil the status of Parks.
Gray told the Advertiser that “For the city officials, from the city and the country, to be able to honor Mrs. Parks and honor those plaintiffs, and even more importantly to honor the 40,000 African American men and women who stayed off of the buses for 382 days, it is indeed a step in the right direction.”