Mr. Speaker, today we mourn the death of a great woman who changed the world with a simple gesture, Ms. Rosa Parks.
Fifty years ago she walked on to her regular bus to go home after work in Montgomery, Alabama. Only this time she did not go to the back of the bus. Her subsequent arrest for violating the segregation laws became the spark that lit the civil rights movement.
Today's visit of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is proof of Rosa Parks' victory over racial prejudice. As a young girl, Dr. Rice saw her own newly integrated school firebombed by racists, resulting in the death of four of her schoolmates. That hatred was overcome by the moral courage of women like Rosa Parks and Condoleezza Rice who rose above it to become one of the most powerful and respect women in the world today.
Ms. Parks was not only an icon for African Americans, but for marginalized people around the world. As a Japanese Canadian, I was born at a time when my own family and community were denied their basic rights as Canadians, including the right to vote.