- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2005

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Visitors streamed into the Henry Ford Museum for a glimpse of the bus that officials say was the one Rosa Lee Parks rode, now draped with purple-and-black crepe to mark her death.

Mrs. Parks sparked the modern civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala. She died Monday at 92.

Shortly after her death, museum officials moved the restored 1948 General Motors bus toward the center of the museum concourse. A display case later was placed next to the bus with the uniform worn by J.F. Blake, the driver who told Mrs. Parks to leave her seat.

Jessie Daniels, 70, a student monitor and substitute teacher at a school on the museum campus, once lived in Montgomery and took part in the bus boycott that followed Mrs. Parks’ arrest in December 1955.

“We were looking for change,” he said. “Luckily for us, Rosa Parks decided to keep her seat on the bus that day.”

As Americans remembered Mrs. Parks’ historic act of defiance, a family spokeswoman announced that public viewings would take place in both Montgomery and Detroit before Mrs. Parks’ funeral.

A viewing was planned at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Montgomery on Saturday and Sunday, Karen Dumas, a spokeswoman for the Parks family and charitable foundation, said Tuesday night.

A viewing also was scheduled for Tuesday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, with funeral services Wednesday at Greater Grace Temple, Miss Dumas said.

The Henry Ford Museum bought the rusty 36-passenger bus from a Chicago auction house in 2001 for $492,000. It had been sitting in a field for more than 30 years, said William Pretzer, the museum’s curator of political history who led the acquisition.

Museum officials say it was the one Mrs. Parks rode because its number corresponds with a notation that was made by a former bus station manager in his scrapbook of newspaper clippings kept during and after the bus boycott.

The bus was restored with a $300,000 federal grant to look like it did on the day Mrs. Parks boarded it, Mr. Pretzer said.

Every day, museum guides invite visitors on board the bus. On Tuesday, Megan McLean, 15, sat in the same seat the civil rights pioneer had refused to yield.

“It was overpowering,” the teenager said. “I kind of felt like I was really there for a minute.”

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