Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Civil-Rights Icon Rosa Parks Dead At 92

Rosa Parks, whose refusal to surrender her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, helped spark the civil-rights movement, died of natural causes at her Detroit home on Monday. She was 92.

Parks' attorney, Shirley Kaigler, told Reuters that she'd died while taking a nap, in the presence of friends and relatives. "She just fell asleep and didn't wake up," Kaigler said.

A seamstress recognized as the matriarch of the civil-rights movement, Parks' December 1, 1955, act of defiance ignited the Montgomery bus boycott — and, in turn, shaped the course of human rights in the United States.

Parks was jailed and fined $14 for not giving up her seat. Five days later, thousands gathered at Montgomery's Holt Street Baptist Church. It was there that a 26-year-old Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. called for diplomatic opposition to segregation; the caucus led to a 381-day boycott of the city's bus system, which influenced the city's leaders to end the practice.

In an interview with The Detroit News, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick called Parks one of the "most important figures in the history of the world. She ignited a fire in this country. The world owes her a debt of gratitude. I think this is a day we all can remember, just like we remember [December 1] 1955."


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