People around the nation are mourning the loss of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Memorial services for her started today. Parks had a huge impact on the advancement of a nation. A fact not lost on local leaders who had personal experiences with Parks.
Rosa Parks made a name for herself. One decision, not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, changed the course of American history, and although she's gone, the impact she made will never be forgotten.
"When this lady sat down on the bus it had the whole state in an uproar," said County Commissioner Carey Cauly.
Cauly grew up in Alabama during the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks would often come to his house to meet with his parents for NAACP meetings. He says Parks and his parents’ conviction to fight for equality, economically and socially, made him want to do the same.
"She showed us that if you're right and you do a thing for the right cause, then your influence is something that will last forever," said Cauly.
In college, Cauly marched with Dr Martin Luther King Jr and participated in lunch counter sit-ins. He recalls how he feared for his own safety and his family members.
"I might die, I might not come back after this march, but there are others willing to stand. We don't know what this is going to produce but I'm going to do what I can to let the world know that what's happening here is not right," said Cauly.
The brave men and women who launched the civil rights movement were responsible for changing the laws to promote equality and justice for all. Today's civil rights leaders say there is still work to be done.
"Because they did give their lives, the ‘sheroes’ and heroes of America we need to make sure that we don't let them down by stopping where we are today, but continuing the fight until equality is won for all," said Ann Boney, President of the Brazos Valley Branch of the NAACP.
"One person can change a situation if they're willing to stand up to that particular situation," said Cauly.
Congress decided to allow Mrs. Parks' body to lie in honor inside the Capitol's rotunda. She is the first woman to hold that honor.