WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Congressional leaders today dedicated a statue of civil rights icon Rosa L. Parks at a ceremony in National Statuary Hall. This is the first statue of an African-American woman to be placed in the U.S. Capitol. Following are Boehner’s remarks at today’s unveiling, as prepared for delivery:
“Let me again thank all of you for joining in this ceremony. In many ways, this statue speaks for itself. Which is a blessing, because no words can do justice to Rosa Parks.
“Here in the Old Hall, she casts an unlikely silhouette: unassuming in a lineup of proud stares, challenging us once more to look up and draw strength from stillness.
“As a child, Rosa Parks was shy, reserved – on the outside at least. On the inside, she was absorbing the Gospel, listening closely to God, who was ‘everything to me,’ she once said.
“Through every ordeal, she’d repeat some Scripture to herself. From Corinthians, ‘We were all made to drink from one Spirit.’ From Luke, the parable of the persistent widow who prays and prays for an unjust judge until finally he sees the light.
“So it’s no surprise that when warned she would be arrested, Rosa Parks didn’t have to look far for courage. She didn’t have to look anywhere, really. ‘I felt a determination cover my body,’ she said, ‘like a quilt on a winter night.’
“You see, humility isn’t incompatible with bravery. When we put God before ourselves … when we make ‘In God We Trust’ not just a motto, but a mission, as Rosa Parks did… any burden can be lifted.
“This statue speaks for itself, and today, we speak for a nation committed to remembering, and more importantly, emulating Rosa Parks.
“So we place her here, in a chamber where many fought to prevent a day like this … and right in the gaze of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. It brings to mind Lady Liberty herself, rising amid the titans of finance and presiding over New York Harbor, the promise of America clear for all to see.
“For when the trappings of ceremony come down, people from all walks, backgrounds, and beliefs will pass through here, pass by one another, some on their way to cast a vote, others on a tour. It will be an ordinary routine, but one that about half a century ago would have been improbable. I can think of no more perfect way to capture the vision of a more perfect union … and to continue what Rosa Parks started.
“It is my honor to accept into the Capitol Art Collection this statue of Rosa Louise Parks, a Lady Liberty for our times, and all time.”