In Detroit, a Day to Honor Rosa Parks

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DETROIT, Nov. 2 - In this, Rosa Parks's adopted hometown, the first row on hundreds of city buses sat empty on Wednesday, saved for the memory of Mrs. Parks and all she had done on another bus miles from here 50 years ago.

And so, as the politicians, the civil rights leaders, the famous musicians and the ministers packed into a massive church here to honor Mrs. Parks with formal speeches, ordinary people also swapped stories about her as they went about their days, to work and back, on the bus.

Outside the Greater Grace Temple, thousands of people who had taken the day off from work waited to see a horse-drawn carriage carry Mrs. Parks's coffin toward a cemetery. In downtown offices, others brought televisions to watch more than six hours of remembrances and a call to action from a long line of dignitaries: the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, former President Bill Clinton and on and on.

Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Parks had ignited "the most significant social movement in modern American history, to finish the work that spawned the Civil War and redeem the promise of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments."

Mr. Sharpton said she and her fellow civil rights pioneers "didn't talk a fight; they fought the fight."

Mr. Jackson dismissed the myth of Mrs. Parks as a simple seamstress who was just too tired to stand up one day. He said she was instead a militant and a freedom fighter.

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