“Last night the nation paused to pay tribute to Rosa Parks, whose life and dedication to equal opportunity for each and every American will be forever written in the heart and souls of the nation and in the pages of our history. The light that shone in the Capitol last night cast its beams across the country. The tears of the Parks’ family were the tears of a nation that will remain eternally in the debt to this great woman who became a profile in courage for our time and all time.
When Rosa Parks sat down half a century ago, America stood up. Her quiet fight for equality sounded the bells of freedom for millions and awakened the moral conscience of the nation. We will always remember that great December, when Rosa Parks sat alone, so that others could sit together.
Her later life continued to show her quiet moral resolve and her firm dedication to do what is right. Now, she belongs to the ages. Her courage, dignity, and determination symbolize the best traditions of America, the still, small voice of deep patriotism that challenges any and all of us whenever we fail to live up to the highest ideals of our society. I can hear her say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Now, it is we who must keep that faith – a faith in a new tomorrow where all men and woman have the equal opportunity that is still too long denied to too many in our society. Today, as we mourn her passing, and are reminded of how much has been accomplished as a result of her sacrifice, we know the nation still has much work to do to fully live up to its ideals of equality and justice for all.
As Robert Kennedy said, each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
The ripples of hope sent out by Rosa Parks did that. They created a mighty current. She too was our Shepherd. She restored our soul. She led us in the paths of righteousness. She walked through the valley of the shadow of death, but she feared no evil, because she knew the Lord was with her. Goodness and mercy followed her all the days of her life, and now she dwells in the house of the Lord forever.”
Senator Kennedy recorded a radio actuality on the passing of Rosa Parks. To access the recording, please dial 1-800-511-0763, code: 4773. You can also access the audio as an mp3 file by going to www.demradio.senate.gov.