University unveils new sculpture in front of Rosa Parks Museum

Visitors to the Rosa Parks Museum at the University of Troy will now be greeted with a new sculpture of the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” by Ian Mangum.

Unveiled in a special ceremony on Rosa Parks’ day, the work, created using powder-coated steel, depicts the face of Ms. Parks, something the artist considered extremely important.

“When I was first approached for the project, I looked at what had already been done for Rosa Parks. I wanted to do something really unique and different, ”Mangum said. “It was also very important to me that we could see her face. People in Montgomery and Alabama know who she is, but the more I talked to people outside of Alabama, I learned that people didn’t know. not really what she looked like.

The sculpture is the second created by Mangum, the first having been unveiled last year at Maxwell Air Force Base, near where Ms Parks and her husband, Raymond, once worked.

“Before Rosa Parks became the mother of the civil rights movement, she was an Army Air Corps civilian. She worked at Maxwell Air Force Base in our base hotel, ”Col. Eries Mentzer, Commander of Maxwell Air Force Base, said at the unveiling ceremony. “Her husband, Raymond, worked in our hair salon. It was at Maxwell Air Force Base that they first experienced inclusion. They were riding an integrated cart. They were able to meet up with men and women from Maxwell in integrated public spaces. And, when they left Maxwell Air Force Base, they couldn’t. They were treated as less than.

Colonel Mentzer said she was honored to be included in the ceremony, which took place at the entrance to the museum at the site of Ms Parks’ arrest on December 1, 1955.

“It is the honor of my career to be here today because without Mrs. Rosa Parks, without Mr. Fred Gray, if not for all those infantrymen who paved the way for a more inclusive America, I wouldn’t want to to be here today and I am truly grateful, ”she said.

The Chancellor of the University of Troy, Dr Jack Hawkins, Jr., thanked Mangum for sharing his talent and works of art with the museum, which opened on December 1, 2000.

“We look forward to thousands and thousands of visitors having the opportunity to enjoy the work as they approach and leave this very special place,” said Dr Hawkins. “I am delighted that five states have designated a day in memory of Ms. Rosa Parks, but we have five and 45 more left. I think over time this will happen. It must be a nationally recognized day to recognize all that has happened here in this special place. “

Dr Hawkins said visitors from around the world visited the museum to learn about the history of Ms Parks and the infantrymen of the Montgomery bus boycott.

“Since we opened this museum, over a million people from over 100 countries have participated in this experiment,” said Dr Hawkins. “Over 100 members of Congress from the United States have come here. All the icons of the civil rights movement have passed through this very special place. It was especially special for our late friend, the “Boy from Troy” as proclaimed by Martin Luther King, Jr., John Robert Lewis. It’s a special place that he took 12 delegations of men and women from Congress through so they could understand the meaning of history and what happened here.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed reminded those in attendance that the impact of the Montgomery bus boycott continues to provide important lessons for today.

“The bus boycott demonstrated the potential of a non-violent mass protest to successfully fight racial segregation and serve as an example for other campaigns that followed,” Reed said.

Civil rights icon Fred Gray, Sr. was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Gray, lawyer and author, has represented both Ms Parks and Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. in court cases.

Marking 66 years since Ms Parks’ arrest, Gray said the impact of the Montgomery bus boycott had been felt around the world.

“Thinking back over those 66 years, there is no doubt in my mind that the events that occurred in Montgomery during this period, with divine intervention and with the help of some 40,000 African-Americans who remained away from the buses, have not only changed the city of Montgomery, the state of Alabama and these United States, but also changed the world, ”said Gray.

Gray encouraged the young audience to continue to explore ways to make a difference in the world and to take the necessary action to lead change within their communities.

Closing the ceremony, Shelia Jackson performed songs that were among Ms. Parks’ favorites, and The Westerlies, an award-winning New York-based brass quartet, performed the song “For Rosa”, composed by Mason Bynes.

The unveiling ceremony was one of many events held in Montgomery on Wednesday to celebrate Rosa Parks Day.

The Westerlies performed a free Rosa Parks Day concert on Wednesday afternoon in the auditorium of the Rosa Parks Museum, and the museum hosted the “Preserving Their Legacy: Activism Past and Present” program, featuring keynote speaker Karen Gray Houston, an award-winning broadcast journalist whose career spanned more than 40 years. Houston, the daughter of Judge Thomas W. Gray, a founding member of the Montgomery Improvement Association, and the niece of civil rights lawyer Fred Gray, is the author of “Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy “. The program also included performances by members of Women In Training, Inc., a youth empowerment organization founded by sisters Breanna and Brooke Bennett to advocate for menstrual equity and education and to engage in community service and social justice.

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