Rosa Parks honored in Washington, D.C.

By Scot E. Kirk, ‘05, The Afro American Newspaper, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hundreds of people from different backgrounds and origins, came out to pay their last respects to “The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Rosa Parks. The service was held at the Metropolitan AME Church in NW Washington on Monday. It was the last chance for many, to view her casket and pay homage before Parks body was returned to her home city of Detroit on Tuesday.

Outside, the area in front of the church was crowded with spectators, security and people trying to gain access to the service within. On the inside, vacant seats were hard to find and even wall space became scarce on the main level as people struggled to get a glimpse of Parks casket.

A large number of celebrities, politicians (both Democrat and Republican), dignitaries and others filled the pews of the church, and some even offered words of appreciation for Parks’ defiance on the Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey gave a short speech in which she acknowledged that without the efforts of Rosa Parks, she probably wouldn’t be who she is today. “Without her, I wouldn’t be doing what I do everyday,” said Winfrey.

Also in attendance was writer/actor and producer Tyler Perry, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, D.C. Councilman Marion Barry (D- Ward 8) and Rep. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and a myriad of others.

Actress Cicely Tyson gave an emotionally stirring speech in honor of Parks and even concluded by reciting a portion of her character’s lines in {The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman}, to the audiences delight.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said Parks would always hold a special place in his heart.
“When it came to staffing my congressional office, the first person I said I wanted was Rosa Parks,” said Conyers.

As the service concluded, the large crowd of spectators swarmed the church entrance to catch a glimpse of Parks casket and the VIP’s who were exiting. “This will be my last chance to say goodbye,” said one woman struggling to get closer.

Although the mood of service was generally upbeat and positive, there were some who saw it as a day of substantial loss. Those like 72 year-old Sallie Craft, who feel there is no one to take Parks place.

“She was the kind, that we looked up to. Now, we don’t have anybody like her to look up to,” said Craft.

Torch note: Scot E. Kirk graduated from CSU last year and now works as a newspaper reporter in Washington, D.C


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