Obama Honors Rosa Parks: 'She Defied Injustice'

A statue of the civil rights icon is unveiled in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.
9:42 | 02/27/13

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Transcript for Obama Honors Rosa Parks: 'She Defied Injustice'
This morning. We celebrate a seamstress. Slight in stature. But -- in court. She defy the odds. She defied. Injustice. She lived. A life of activism but also. A life of dignity. And grace. And in a single moment. With the simplest of gestures she helped change America. And change the world. Rosa Parks -- don't -- elected office. -- personal fortune. But to life for. The formal seats of power. Yet today she takes her rightful place. Among those who shape this nation's course. I thank all those persons. In particular. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus both past and present. For making this moment possible. The childhood friend once about ms. parks. Nobody ever Boston rolls around. And got away with a that's what an Alabama driver. Learned on December 1. 1955. Twelve years earlier he would kicked mrs. parks' office but simply because she entered through the -- door when. The back door was to crowd. He grabbed her sleeve. They pushed her off the bus. It made a mad enough she wouldn't call this year boarded. Riding his -- for one. And when they met again. What are evening in 1955. Rosa Parks. Would not be -- The driver got out from history to insist that she give up -- She would not be push. When he threatened. To have her arrested. She simply replied. You may do that. And he did it. A few days later. Rosa Parks challenge her arrest. Well don't pass are new to town and only 26 years goal. Stood what. A man named Martin Luther King -- So -- thousands. Montgomery Alabama commuters. They began a boycott. Teachers. Labor -- Clergy and domestic us. Through rain and cold. And sweltering heat. Day after day week after week month after mile. Walking miles and they had to. Ranging car pools where they could. Up thinking about the blisters on their feet. The weariness. After a full -- work. Walking for respect. Walking for freedom. Driven by a solemn determination. To affirm their god given dignity. 385. Days after Rosa Parks refused to give up -- The boycott -- Black man. And women and children. -- boarded the buses of Montgomery. Newly desegregated. And sat in whatever -- happen to -- And with a victory. The entire edifice. Of segregation. Like the ancient walls of Jericho. Began to slowly. Come tumbling back. But often remarked good. Rosa Parks activism didn't begin on that bus. Long before she made headlines -- stood up for freedom. Stood up for equality all. Fighting for voting rights. Rally against discrimination criminal justice system. Serving in local chapter. Of the -- double ACP. Required leadership would continue long after she became -- -- of the civil rights movement. Working with congressman Conyers to find homes for the homeless. Preparing disadvantaged -- For a path to success. Striving each day it. Right some wrong. Somewhere. In this world. And yet. Our minds -- on that single moment. On the bus. This parts. Alone -- -- -- clutching her purse. -- how to win the waiting to be arrest. That moment. Tells us something about how change happens. -- doesn't happen. The choices we make. Or don't make. For now we see through a glass -- Scripture says. And it's true. -- -- out of inertia. Or selfishness. -- -- out of fear. Or simple lack of moral imagination. We so often spend our lives. As -- from a fall. Accepting injustice. Rationalizing. In equity. Tolerating. The intolerable. Like the bus driver. But also like. The passengers. On the bus. We see the way things are. Children hungry in the land of plenty. Entire neighborhoods ravaged by violence. Families hobbled. My job loss or ailments. And we make excuses for inaction. We save yourselves. Let's not mind. Responsible. There's nothing I can do. Rosa Parks tells us. There's always something we can do. She tells us. That we all have responsibilities. To ourselves. Into one about. She reminds us that. This is how change happens. Not mainly through the exports of the famous. Apollo. Through the countless acts. Often anonymous courage. And kindness. And fellow feeling. Responsibility. That continually. Stubbornly expand our conception of justice. Our conception. What is possible. Rosa -- singular act. Disobedience launched a movement. The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads. Of Montgomery. Helped -- nation. See. That to which. It had once been blind. It is because of these men and women. That I stand here today. Is because of them that. Our children world in the land. More free. And more fair. -- -- -- -- To its founder -- And that is why. The statue belongs in this -- To remind us. No matter how humble or -- our positions. Just what it is leadership reports. Just what does that citizenship. Requires. Rosa Parks would have turned 100 years old this month. We do well. By placing a statue of her. But. We can do no greater honor. To remember. -- carry forward the power up for principle. And the courage borne of conviction. May god bless the memory of Rosa Parks. May god bless these United States of America.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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