Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are urging Congress to declare December 1st a federal holiday honoring the civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
The bill, H.R. 308, was introduced by Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell and is backed by 31 co-sponsors, all of whom are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. CBC also says the federal holiday would be the first federal holiday honoring a woman.
“This is not just about Black history. It’s about American history,” said Sewell during a press conference Wednesday. “By simply refusing to give up her seat, Rosa Parks stood up for the values that this nation holds dear. With her quiet, dignified courage, she took a stand against a city steeped in segregation, and in doing so, she sparked the beginning of a movement that changed the very fabric of our nation.”
Although it may be a tall order, Sewell hopes that her bill will be backed by Republicans and Democrats.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a segregated bus after a long, hard day of work. When Rosa sat down, the bus driver demanded she move to the segregated Black section in the back of the bus, but Rosa refused.
Although she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, her story gained national attention and has been credited for launching the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott, which in turn helped spark the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. Parks’ defiance would end with the Supreme Court ruling that segregating public busses was unconstitutional.
Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty supported bill H.R. 308 calling Parks an icon and crusader.
“Rosa Parks is a martyr for equality, an icon to all, a crusader for justice. And truly, she was a phenomenal Black woman whose legacy should be revered as a hero in American history books and well beyond our borders,” said Beatty.
“It is past time to give Rosa Parks the national recognition she deserves.”
Nevada Rep. and Democrat who chairs the CBC, Steven Horsford, also stressed the importance of the bill, citing “the rise in efforts to erase and rewrite history – Black history.”
“That is why it’s important for us to reclaim our history, to honor our history, to promote our history,” said Horsford.
If the bill is passed, the federal holiday will be established in January 2024.
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