Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Landmarks to civil rights converge on Capitol Hill

Landmarks to civil rights converge on Capitol Hill: More than a half-century of landmark civil rights history collides Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

President Obama travels to the U.S. Capitol to help unveil a statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks — shortly after, across the street, the Supreme Court holds a hearing on a law that Parks partly inspired and which made Obama's political career possible, the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The nation's first African-American president told radio talk show host Joe Madison last week it will be "a great honor" to pay tribute to Parks, whose defiance of Alabama's segregation laws inspires global freedom movements to this day.

"She was an inspiration not just to African Americans but to all people looking for justice," Obama said.

Parks, who died in 2005, refused the demands of a white bus driver in Montgomery, Ala., to vacate her seat on Dec. 1, 1955. Her arrest inspired an ultimately successful boycott of Montgomery's segregated buses, led in part by a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr.