Legislation for federal holiday honoring Rosa Parks introduced in Congress

Ohio's Joyce Beatty and two of her congressional colleagues want to make Dec. 1, the date Parks' arrest sparked history, one to celebrate.

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In coordination with colleagues Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper and Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, Ohio congresswoman and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty introduced legislation earlier this month to establish Rosa Parks Day as a federal holiday.

“Through her willingness to sit, Rosa Parks stood up for what she believed in,” Beatty said in an emailed press statement. “As a state legislator, I was proud to lead the push to make the Buckeye State the first state to officially recognize Rosa Parks Day. It’s now time for us to come together as a nation to honor this American hero through a new national holiday.”

A display of Rosa Parks’ infamous 1955 arrest photo in Montgomery, Alabama is shown during a memorial service for the civil rights icon in 2005. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Beatty, back in 2005, was a member of the Buckeye’s State’s general assembly when she helmed legislation that designated Dec. 1st — the day of Parks’ infamous 1955 arrest in Montgomery, Alabama — as Rosa Parks Day in Ohio. California began celebrations of the late civil rights activist five years prior, observing Rosa Parks Day on Feb. 4, her birthday, in that state; Missouri does too, as of 2014. Like Ohio, Oregon observes it on Dec. 1, as does the city of San Antonio in Texas.

According to Beatty’s statement, “Ohio’s annual Rosa Park tribute has engaged thousands of children and community leaders across the state to celebrate Mrs. Parks’ legacy and example.”

“Rosa Parks is a hero to countless Americans and to me,” Beatty shared. “Her life and actions on that historic December day more than 50 years ago have inspired people across the country and around the world to stand up against discrimination and work peacefully to create a more just and fair society.”

Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty speaks at an August press event following the House of Representatives vote on H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Beatty said she “was honored to have led the charge in the State of Ohio to recognize Rosa Parks, and I’m proud to push to get her the national recognition she deserves.”

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was a Montgomery activist who is best known for her pivotal role in the American civil rights movement, when she refused to give up her bus seat in a “colored” section to a white man and was subsequently arrested. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted from Dec. 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956 and was a pivotal moment in ending segregation in America.

Upon her passing in 2005 at the age of 92, Parks became the second private citizen to lie in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. She is interred in Detroit, where she lived for years, in a mausoleum named in her honor.

Over her lifetime, Rosa Parks was awarded many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Bill Clinton and the Congressional Gold Medal. Inscribed on the medal, the highest award given by the legislative branch, is the descriptor “Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement.”

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