WASHINGTON -- President Obama paid tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks on Wednesday, comparing the Jim Crow-era tolerance of segregation to the acceptance of inequality that persists into the present day.
People often live their lives "as if in a fog," Obama said, "accepting injustice, rationalizing inequity, tolerating the intolerable."
"We make excuses for inaction," he said. "We say to ourselves, 'That’s not my responsibility. There is nothing I can do.'"
Obama spoke at the unveiling of a Parks statue, the first full-length statue of a black woman in the Capitol.
The remarks came a day before an important filing deadline in a Supreme Court case dealing with same-sex marriage. Obama has compared the campaign by gays to win equal rights to the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. He didn’t explicitly mention gay rights on Wednesday, nor give a hint about whether his administration will file a brief supporting the right of gays and lesbians to marry.
The president supports that right but has said in the past that the decisions belong at the state level.
Instead, standing in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, Obama praised the acts of "anonymous courage" that spark movements and result in change.