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30,000 Pay Their Respects to Rosa Parks

November 01, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — More than 30,000 Americans streamed through the Capitol rotunda to pay tribute to Rosa Parks on Monday, filing by her casket in hushed awe of the woman whose defiant act on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus inspired the modern civil rights movement.

Elderly women carrying purses, young couples holding hands and small children in the arms of their parents reverently proceeded around the raised wooden casket.

Parks, a former seamstress, became the first woman to lie in honor in the rotunda, sharing the tribute bestowed upon Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and other national leaders.

Later, in a three-hour memorial service at historic Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Parks was celebrated by political, religious and civil rights leaders and other luminaries who spoke of the example she set with a simple act of defiance.

"I would not be standing here today, nor standing where I stand every day, had she not chosen to sit down," talk-show host Oprah Winfrey said. "I know that."

Winfrey, who was born in Mississippi during segregation, said Parks' stand "changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of so many other people in the world."

After the service, Parks' casket was flown to Detroit. There was an evening viewing at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Former President Clinton and singer Aretha Franklin were scheduled to attend her funeral Wednesday.

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