Washington National Cathedral to dedicate carving of civil rights’ Rosa Parks

May 8, 2012

Civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks will be honored in the District this week as Washington National Cathedral dedicates a stone carving in her likeness.

The dedication ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and will include live performances of prayer songs by the cathedral’s men’s and boys’ choirs.

The carving commemorates Parks’s refusal in 1955 to give up her bus seat to a white man, sparking the modern civil rights movement. It will be displayed in the cathedral’s Human Rights Porch, an area that celebrates “those who struggle to bring equality and social justice to all people,” according to the church Web site.

The dedication ceremony comes nearly seven years after Parks’s death in 2005, at the age of 92.

In the days and weeks that followed, the nation was reminded of her marked, albeit quiet, contribution to the civil rights movement.


Rosa Parks is fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 22, 1956. (Gene Herrick/AP)

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described her simple refusal as “an individual expression of a timeless longing for human dignity and freedom.”

Parks’s likeness was commissioned as part of a pair of carvings that also depict fellow humanitarian Mother Teresa. They were designed by North Carolina-based artist Chas Fagan and carved by the cathedral’s stone carver, Sean Callahan.

The Parks and Mother Teresa carvings join statues of Catholic Archbishop of El Salvador Óscar Romero, who was killed in 1980; former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt; and John T. Walker, the first African American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, in the Human Rights Porch.

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