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Stand up for Rosa Parks: Statue in Grand Rapids for 10 years

Associated Press

Grand Rapids – The statue of Rosa Parks in downtown Grand Rapids symbolizing resistance against racism is needed now more than ever, according to the man who pushed for the monument that was erected 10 years ago.

Armond Robinson, 90, was acutely aware of the impact of Parks’ protest in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 when she refused to give up her public bus seat to a white man. As a member of Grand Rapids’ community relations board decades later, it was Robinson who said the city needed the statue, WOOD-TV reports.

In a June 15, 1999 file photo Rosa Parks smiles during a Capitol Hill ceremony where Parks was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington.

“I approached, initiated, requested, started action to put (Rosa Parks) there, where she is,” Robinson said.

The board raised $37,000 to maintain the monument from some of the most prominent members of Grand Rapids’ businesses and society.

“I remain very proud of having initiated the idea and gotten the support from so many points,” he said. “Rosa Parks was famous for her seated resistance. You notice (the statue) is standing, and our premise was ‘We stand up for Rosa Parks.’”

Her statue was the first statue of a person of color in the city of Grand Rapids. It was designed by Ed Dwight, America’s first black astronaut.

The city of Montgomery, Alabama unveiled their statue of Rosa Parks in December last year.

“The environment that’s so heavily on us at this time, more so than I’ve seen any time in my 90 years – the racism that’s very prevalent,” Robinson said.

Grand Rapids’ statue of Parks is a symbol of ongoing resistance.

“You can kick, but we’re still fighting and that’s the message,” Robinson said.