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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 15:05 GMT
Civil rights icon Parks honoured
Condoleezza Rice at the memorial
Condoleezza Rice paid tribute to the civil rights icon
Tens of thousands of people have been paying their respects to US civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who died last week at the age of 92.

Her body is lying in the Capitol building that houses the US Congress.

Mrs Parks is the first woman to be accorded such an honour, usually reserved for presidents and other eminent men.

Her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Alabama in 1955 prompted a mass black boycott of buses.

We say to Mrs Rosa Parks: Ride on, ride on, ride on in the direction of endless hope to the table of equal justice and eternal peace
Reverend Daniel Coughlin,
House of Representatives chaplain

Mrs Parks' actions inspired the movement which culminated in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and an end to segregation.

She died at her Detroit home last Tuesday. Later on Monday, her body will be flown from Washington to Detroit for burial.

President George W Bush has ordered flags at home and abroad to be flown at half mast.

Sgt Jessica Gissubel of the Capitol Police told the Associated Press news agency more than 30,000 people had filed past the body in the Capitol Rotunda since Sunday evening, when viewing began.

On Sunday, hundreds of people, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, attended a memorial service in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ms Rice told those gathered: "I can honestly say that without Mrs Parks, I would not be standing here today as secretary of state."


Sunday's memorial was held at the St Paul AME church in Montgomery, where Mrs Parks was once a member.

File photograph of Rosa Parks in 1999
Mrs Parks' protest inspired a generation of activists

An additional wing had to be opened to accommodate the large number of mourners.

The governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, said: "I firmly believe God puts different people in different parts of history so great things can happen. I think Rosa Parks is one of those people."

Mrs Parks' body was then taken to Washington.

Crowds cheered loudly as the motorcade, led by Mrs Parks' hearse and a vintage DC Metro bus, arrived.

President Bush and other senior figures paid tribute to her, along with thousands of other mourners.

The coffin was carried up the steps to the Capitol and placed in the centre of the Rotunda, a large circular room below the Capitol's dome.

"Tonight, inspired by her life and leadership, as your free children, we say to Mrs Rosa Parks: Ride on, ride on, ride on in the direction of endless hope to the table of equal justice and eternal peace," said the Reverend Daniel Coughlin, the chaplain of the House of Representatives.

Only 30 people have lain in honour there since 1852.

Mrs Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honour, three years later.

Watch Rev Jesse Jackson pay tribute to Rosa Parks

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