Flags fly at half-staff for Rosa Parks

President Bush has ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff today, Wednesday, Nov. 2, from sunrise to sundown, to honor the memory of Rosa Parks.

The order is in effect for flags at all public buildings and grounds, all military posts and naval stations, on all naval vessels of the federal government.

State officials in the office of Gov. Linda Lingle pointed out that, whenever the U.S. flag is flown at half-staff, so are Hawai’i state flags, at Lihu’e Airport, the State Building in Lihu’e, all public schools, the historic County Building, all post offices, and other government buildings.

Parks’ funeral was to be held at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today, Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit. Former President Clinton and singer Aretha Franklin were scheduled to attend.

Parks was to be buried next to her husband and mother in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

In a three-hour memorial service Monday at historic Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, Parks was remembered for the example she set with a simple act of defiance: refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala. city bus on Dec. 1, 1955.

Oprah Winfrey, who was born in Mississippi during segregation, said Parks’ stand “changed the trajectory of my life, and the lives of so many other people in the world.”

Parks’ memorial brought together leaders of both political parties, from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Parks is the first woman to lie in honor in the Rotunda, sharing the tribute given to Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and other national leaders. Capitol Police estimated the crowd at more than 30,000, but some participants said it was far bigger.

Parks was a 42-year-old tailor’s assistant at a Montgomery, Ala., department store when she was arrested and fined $10 plus $4 in court costs.

That triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December 1956 that segregation on city buses was unconstitutional, giving momentum to the battle against laws that separated the races in public accommodations and businesses throughout the South.

Parks’ act exposed her and her husband, Raymond, to harassment and death threats, and they lost their jobs in Montgomery. They moved to Detroit with Rosa Parks’ mother, Leona McCauley, in 1957.


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