Rosa Parks has become the first Black woman to be honored with a life-size statue in the Capitol. The statue of Mrs. Parks captures her waiting to be arrested on Dec. 1, 1955, after she refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a crowded segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She is seated, dressed in a heavy wool coat and clutching her purse as she looks out of an unseen window waiting for the police.
The nine foot tall and bronze statue of Mrs. Parks sits in Statuary Hall, where lawmakers frequently pass on their way to vote. Her statue adds to a small collection of art devoted to prominent Black women in the Capitol that includes a bust of Sojourner Truth and a painting of Shirley Chisholm.
Mrs. Parks, who would have turned 100 on Feb. 4, has received the highest civilian honors from the White House and Congress. Parks was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, and her face was unveiled on a postage stamp on her birthday. When she died in 2005, she was the first woman and second Black person to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, an honor usually reserved for former lawmakers and presidents. She also served as a Congressional aide on the staff of Representative John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan.
The statue was the first full-size statue to be commissioned and paid for by Congress since 1873. It was designed by Robert Firmin and sculptured by Eugene Daub. President Barack Obama and congressional leaders commemorated the statue unveiling.