Rosa Parks memorialized, SecAF pays tribute to civil rights chief | Army

Col. Eries Mentzer, Commander of 42nd Air Force Base, is accompanied by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and other distinguished visitors on December 1 to unveil a memorial sculpture by Rosa Parks. Many people may be familiar with the work Rosa Parks did during the civil rights movement, but less may know that she worked at Maxwell Air Force Base in the 1940s.

Senior Aviator Charles Welty

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. – Air Force and Montgomery leaders honored Rosa Parks with a memorial service at Maxwell Air Force Base on December 1, the 65th anniversary of Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett; The Mayor of Montgomery, Steven Reed; Colonel Eries Mentzer, 42nd Air Force Base commander; Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Director of the Equal Justice Initiative; and several other dignitaries were in attendance to unveil the Rosa Parks sculpture created by Ian Mangum, a member of the 42nd Force Support Squadron team.

“65 years ago today, a woman my age refused to give up her seat on a city bus in protest of the separate transport in Montgomery. That woman was Mrs. Rosa L. Parks, ”said Mentzer. “She wasn’t tired, she was tired of giving in. Her moral courage at that moment sparked a movement that changed our nation for the better.”

Parks’ arrest for refusing to leave her seat sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which is a well-known part of American history. Less known, however, is that she worked as a seamstress in shelters at Maxwell Field in the 1940s.

“Today we greet Ms. Rosa Parks, once a civilian member of the United States Army Air Corps and forever a civil rights icon,” said Barrett. “On that cold December 1st, tiny, speckled 42-year-old Rosa Parks took a stand by keeping her seat. Their simple no sparked a movement for equanimity in America. “

During their time at Maxwell Field, Parks and her husband Raymond, who worked in the military barbershop, experienced integrated public spaces and transportation while suffering from segregation in the local community. In her memoir, Parks stated, “You could just say Maxwell opened my eyes. It was an alternative to Jim Crow’s ugly politics. “

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