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2005-11-03

Jesse Jackson Delivers Eulogy at Rosa Parks Funeral: "Her Legacy is Secure. Her Work, Unfinished"

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Over 4,000 people gathered in Detroit for the funeral of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks on Wednesday. The funeral capped a week of tributes to the woman often referred to as the mother of the civil rights movement. Civil rights leaders, Congressmembers, Senators, pastors and many others spoke at the service. The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered the eulogy. We play excerpts of the service. [includes rush transcript]

Over 4,000 people gathered in Detroit for the funeral of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks on Wednesday. The funeral capped a week of tributes to the woman often referred to as the mother of the civil rights movement. Parks died last week at the age of 92. She had lived in Detroit since the late 1950s.

It marked the third major tribute to Parks this week. On Sunday, a memorial service was held in her former home of Montgomery Alabama. It was there where in 1955 Parks was arrested after she refused to give up her bus to a white passenger. This act of civil disobedience sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights movement. Her act of resistance was felt around the world. Parks was also honored this week in Washington where she became the first citizen ever to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol.

But the biggest tribute was held for Wednesday when thousands filled the Greater Grace Temple of Detroit.

Rev. Jesse Jackson’s eulogy ended with him and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin on stage together paying tribute to Rosa Parks. Other speakers included the Rev. Al Sharpton, Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Bernice King–the daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking Nov. 2nd, 2005 in Detroit, Michigan.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin our coverage with Reverend Jackson. In his remarks, he urged the people of Detroit to honor the legacy of Rosa Parks by voting in Detroit’s mayoral election on Tuesday.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Is this a sentimental ceremony or is this a freedom rally? Her legacy is secure, her work unfinished. I came into Detroit last night, 75,000 Negros walking in the cold to see her body. If they don’t vote on Tuesday, they wasted her time. You mean in Detroit you elected Engler as governor by not voting? You mean in Detroit, Motown hip hip Detroit, you mean you voted 20% of your — 20% voted a month ago? You mean you could have a national performance watching a dead sister and then don’t vote? 'I don't believe in voting.’ You believe in Medicare. You believe in Medicaid. You believe in public education. You believe in Pell Grants. So, you must believe in voting!

AMY GOODMAN: In his speech, Reverend Jackson called for a statue of Rosa Parks to be erected in the halls of Congress. He also criticized President Bush’s recent choice for the Supreme Court, Sam Alito.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: Congressman Jackson has a bill to be put in the great halls of Congress a life-size statue of Rosa Parks. If John Calhoun can be there, and General Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, men who engaged in sedition, secession, slavery, segregation and treason, just maybe we need a guardian angel to watch over them in the halls of Congress. Perhaps George Bush who also gave her ceremony can sign the Voting Rights Act and extend them with enforcement powers?

President Bush on yesterday gave homage to Rosa Parks and then put forth to the nation an extreme rightwing judge, antithetical to everything Rosa Parks ever stood for. He put forth an anti-Rosa Parks judge, not unlike last year he put a wreath on Dr. King’s graveyard, and the next day, allowed the Supreme Court to kill affirmative action. Whenever he sticks out his hands, there’s always something up his sleeves.

Perhaps a White House conference on civil rights, why not 50 years later? Watching bodies float down the rivers of New Orleans, no plan for rescue, no plan for relocation, no plan for reconstruction that’s fair. 50 million Americans with no health insurance. The surplus culture for the few and a deficit culture for the masses. Just maybe we need a White House conference on civil rights. Mr. Mayor, why not right now on the river in Detroit, the Rosa Parks Park where we can entomb her body and have the generations unborn know this woman whose sacrifice made America better? Why not now some action to turn our mourning into some living memorial?

AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Jesse Jackson, delivering the eulogy at the funeral of Rosa Parks.

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