Funeral for Rosa Parks

Black American leaders and former President Bill Clinton joined thousands who sang “we shall overcome” at Rosa Parks’ funeral in her adopted home town of Detroit, Michigan.

Mr Clinton told the 4,000 congregation that Mrs Parks had “struck a lethal blow to the foundations of legal bigotry”.

Soul singing legend Aretha Franklin hushed the huge church with her moving rendition of “Impossible Dream”.

Thousands queued outside the the Greater Grace Temple, an enormous African Methodist Episcopal church, unable to get into the extraordinary service for the so-called “mother” of the US civil rights movement, who died on October 24 at the age of 92.

Black leaders mourn

Black activists such as Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam group, and Reverend Jessie Jackson were also among the mourners inside.

“Rosa Parks sparked the most significant social movement in US history,” Mr Clinton said.

“Let us never forget that in that single act and a lifetime of grace she showed us every day what it meant to be free. She made us see and agree that everyone needs to be free.”

Other politicians followed, including Mr Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, who called for further action on civil rights in America.

“This country has shown great respect for Rosa Parks in the days since her death. I am grateful for that show of respect but I will be more grateful if our nation shows (that respect) by its actions,” said Hillary Clinton.

“We all need to remember we can have our own Rosa Parks moment every time we stand up for someone who is being mistreated,” she added.

Senator Barak Obama, a popular black politician from Illinois and a rising star in the Democratic party, was greeted by one mourner with the call “we hear you Mr President.”

“It’s a given that I would not be here today were it not for this small woman,” he said.

Notably absent from the massive delegation of politicians was any senior official from the White House.

A nation grieves

But there has been a nationwide outpouring of tributes to Mrs Parks, whose act of defiance on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955, caused her arrest.

A boycott of the bus company led by Martin Luther King Jr followed, which grew into a national movement and the eventual ending of racial segregation laws.

Following her death, she became the first woman ever to lie in honor under the dome of the Capitol’s Rotunda in Washington, an accolade usually reserved for presidents and eminent public servants.

Tens of thousands of people, including President George W Bush, filed past Mrs Parks’ coffin in Washington.

An estimated 20,000 people filed past the coffin in Detroit in the hours before the funeral service.

Gertrude Smith, who joined the queue before dawn, six hours before the funeral started, paid her own tribute.

Mrs Smith, 49, said she was at the event to show “respect, not only to who she was but what she represented, not only to the people of Detroit but to the world.”

Mrs Smith was too young to take part in the civil rights movement sparked by Mrs Parks, but said she was black and wanted to be part of the historic funeral.

Dossie Hunter, 74, grew up in Selma, Alabama, and said she knew from experience the kind of hate and discrimination that Rosa Parks struggled against.

“I never met her in person but I didn’t want to miss this celebration. I’m from the south myself and I know what happened down there,” said Mrs Hunter, smiling under a fluffy white hat.

“Most of us wouldn’t be where we are now if it hadn’t been for people like her.”

Mrs Parks was to be buried in Detroit, alongside her late husband and mother.

She moved to Detroit in 1957 because of death threats she and her family received in the US South.

Posted in 上海性息网