Rosa Parks Day is currently officially observed in just five states across the country. California and Missouri celebrate Mrs. Parks on her birthday, Feb. 4, while Alabama, Ohio, and Oregon choose to honor her on Dec. 1 — the day she stood up for racial equality and refused to give up her seat in the white-only section of a Montgomery, Alabama city bus.
All of America could soon be celebrating Parks’ contribution to civil rights, thanks to a new bill introduced by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty. Representative Beatty— who also serves as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus — plus Tennessee Representative Jim Cooper and Alabama Representative Terri Sewell have introduced legislation to establish Rosa Parks Day as a federal holiday.
In a statement sent to the press, Beatty said, “Through her willingness to sit, Rosa Parks stood up for what she believed in. As a state legislator, I was proud to lead the push to make the Buckeye State the first state to officially recognize Rosa Parks Day. It’s now time for us to come together as a nation to honor this American hero through a new national holiday.”
California has been celebrating Rosa Parks Day since the California State Legislature passed the measure in 2000. Five years later, Rep. Beatty spearheaded the push to pass similar legislation in her home state of Ohio and Missouri and Oregon followed suit in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
“Ohio’s annual Rosa Park tribute has engaged thousands of children and community leaders across the state to celebrate Mrs. Parks’ legacy and example,” Beatty noted in the statement. “Rosa Parks is a hero to countless Americans and to me. “Her life and actions on that historic December day more than 50 years ago have inspired people across the country and around the world to stand up against discrimination and work peacefully to create a more just and fair society.”
“On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks sat so that this nation could stand up for the values that our democracy holds so dear,” added Rep. Sewell. “Her quiet, dignified courage helped inspire a civil rights movement that changed this country for the better. As the U.S. Representative for Montgomery, I’m so proud to introduce the Rosa Parks Day Act to make December 1st a national holiday in her honor. Such a day will ensure the memory of her brave sacrifice lives on in America’s story for generations to come.”
The Rosa Parks Day Act will have to pass through both the House and Senate before it is signed into law by President Joe Biden and can become an official federal holiday.