MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - On Sunday, leaders dedicated a statue honoring Rosa Parks and Civil Rights foot soldiers in downtown Montgomery.
The dedication marks the 64th anniversary of Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. The life-size, bronze statue depicts the seamstress, and four historic markers honor the plaintiffs in the landmark Browder v. Gayle case, a lawsuit challenging Montgomery’s and Alabama’s bus segregation laws.
“To stand here today as Montgomery’s mayor where Mrs. Rosa Parks stood defiant against systemic injustice infecting our community and our country speaks to the magnitude of this moment and the progress achieved in our city,” Mayor Steven Reed said. “This progress, coupled with the dawn of a new era of reconciliation and revitalization, underscores Montgomery’s status as the Birthplace of Civil Rights and a light unto the world.”
The statue stands near Montgomery Plaza, feet from where Parks’ boarded the city bus on Nov. 26, 1955. The City of Montgomery, the Montgomery County Commission and the State of Alabama Department of Tourism funded the project and commissioned Montgomery County artist Clydetta Fulmer to complete the work in conjunction with city and state bicentennial commemorations.
“This statue has been a long time coming and Mrs. Rosa Parks is more than deserving as she represents all of the many foot soldiers who sacrificed their lives and families to make a change. She is standing where she belongs at the heart of Montgomery where the historical Civil Rights Movement all started,” said Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean. “This is a great day for Montgomery County. The seeds she planted are ever continuing to be harvested. Because of Mrs. Parks courageous stance, I am able to hold the position I do as Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission. She paved the way for us, both minorities and women, we stand on her shoulders and we are forever grateful.”
According to the city, Fulmer studied photographs and shoes from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as part of her research for the statue. Fulmer also spoke to Allena Curry Norman, a close friend of Parks’ and the hairdresser for Civil Rights activists like Coretta Scott King and Juanita Abernathy.
Gov. Kay Ivey was also at the dedication and unveiled the statue with Mayor Reed.