Menu

Crowds View Parks Body

Hundreds of people slowly filed past the body of civil rights icon Rosa Parks (search) on Saturday, just miles from the downtown street where she made history by refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man.

Most paying respects paused for a moment to quietly look at Parks' body in an open casket at St. Paul's A.M.E. Church (search).

The strength that allowed Parks to defy Montgomery's segregation laws nearly 50 years ago was still showing in her face, said actress Cicely Tyson (search), who played Parks' mother in the 2002 TV movie "The Rosa Parks Story."

"You can see that strength in that chin." Tyson said. "It's the same strength that allowed her to just sit there on that bus. That same strength is in her face. Even in death, it is there."

The body of the 92-year-old Parks, who died Monday at her home in Detroit, was brought to Montgomery on a chartered jet.

After a brief ceremony at the airport, a hearse drove her body through the streets of Montgomery. About a block and a half from St. Paul's, the casket was loaded into a horse drawn carriage, which was followed by about 100 people holding hands as it slowly made its way to the church.

"Today we know this country has changed forever because this one great unselfish woman kept her seat to defend all her rights," NAACP (search) President Bruce Gordon said.

Parks will lie in honor Sunday and Monday in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., becoming the first woman to do so.

After Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, she turned to her minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King (search), for aid. King led a 381-day boycott of the city's bus system that helped initiate the modern civil rights movement.