MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Civil rights icon Rosa Parks and hundreds of other victims of segregation-era arrests would be pardoned — but not forgotten — under a bill passed unanimously by the Alabama House on Thursday.
The bill was amended to say that the arrest records would not be expunged or sealed from public view, but would be turned over to the state Department of Archives and History.
That way, the records will provide a permanent record of civil disobedience that, in many cases, helped lead to desegregation.
Some critics of the original legislation had argued that the pardons might cause history to forget such courageous acts as Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus.
"I want to make sure that 20 years from now if my children want to know what this woman went through that there is a record," said Democratic Rep. Neal Morrison.
The bill now goes to the Senate for debate.
Those arrested or their family members could request pardons.
One black lawmaker arrested during the civil rights era said he has no plans to seek a pardon, saying he considers his arrests "a badge of courage."
But Democratic Sen. Hank Sanders said the bill was important because it recognizes that what Parks and others did was not a crime.