President Barack Obama and congressional leaders unveiled a statue honoring the late civil rights leader Rosa Parks in the U.S. Capitol today.
Parks' niece, Sheila Keys, and longtime friend Elaine Steele were on hand for the unveiling. The 9-foot-tall, 2,700-pound bronze statue and granite base were authorized by Congress in 2005, the year Parks died in her adopted home of Detroit.
The statue stands in Statuary Hall in the Capitol. Parks, known as the mother of the modern civil rights movement, becomes the first African-American woman to receive a full-size statue in the Capitol collection.
House Speaker John Boehner, who introduced Obama, called Parks "a lady liberty for our time and for all time."
"She defied the odds. She defied injustice," Obama said in his remarks. "She helped change America and helped change the world."
Parks is best known for sparking the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott by refusing to give up her bus seat for a white patron in 1955.
Obama said Parks' act of defiance helped bring down the walls of discrimination and that it is because of her and other civil rights leaders that "I stand here today."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Parks has "already outlived the legacy of her time among us."
The president said that Parks' life offers a lesson to people today.
"We make excuses for inaction and we say to ourselves, 'That's not my responsibility. There's nothing I can do,' " Obama said. "Rosa Parks told us there is always something you can do."
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