First lady

Rosa Parks will be the first woman ever to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Published October 28, 2005 6:54PM (EDT)

With most of Washington's attention focused on the long-anticipated indictment of Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis Libby and the ongoing investigation of Bush's brain, Karl Rove, Congress is quietly working toward another historic event: commemorating the life and recent death of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, by having her body lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Having one's remains lie in repose is a privilege usually reserved for former presidents (most recently, Ronald Reagan), members of Congress and military commanders. Parks will be the first woman ever to receive this honor.

Of course, Parks was no stranger to setting precedent, and her memorial will be a landmark occasion in a couple of other ways: She'll be the second-ever African-American, and also the second non-government official, to be honored in this way. Around the country, cities such as Detroit and Montgomery, Ala., are arranging their own memorials for Parks, including symbolically reserving the first seats of city buses in memory of her revolutionary refusal to give up her seat in 1955.

The House is expected to pass the resolution approving Parks' Rotunda memorial later today.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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