A Museum Of Her Own

British model and actress Elizabeth Hurley and her new husband, Indian businessman Arun Nayar, are accompanied by security personnel as they leave Chattrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai, March 5, 2007. Hurley, 41, married Nayar, 42, March 2 in a private ceremony in southwest England then travelled to Mumbai straight after the reception for traditional Indian ceremonies. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty

It was a cold evening 45 years ago Friday when a Montgomery city bus stopped in front of the Empire Theater. The driver got up and told black seamstress Rosa Parks she would have to give up her seat for white passengers.

That event - which touched off the Montgomery bus boycott and began the modern civil rights movement - is recreated inside a new museum honoring Parks. The museum opens Friday on the site of the old theater.

Parks, now 87, will be in Montgomery on Friday when Troy State University Montgomery dedicates the Rosa Parks Library and Museum.

Joining Parks will be such civil rights figures as Martin Luther King III, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; poet Maya Angelou; and actress Cecily Tyson.

Inside the museum, visitors will get a chance to see and feel a little of what segregated Montgomery was like 45 years ago. The highlight of the museum is a bus that was used in Montgomery at the time of Parks' arrest.

Looking in the bus windows, visitors will see a video that recreates the famous conversation between Parks and the driver.

"Are you going to stand up," the driver asked.

"No," Park answered.

"Well, by God, I'm going to have you arrested," the driver said.

"You may do that," Parks responded.

Community leaders angered over her arrest launched a boycott of Montgomery buses on Dec. 5, 1955. The protest lasted a year, lifted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to national prominence and resulted in a Supreme Court ruling integrating public transportation.

Parks' refusal to yield her seat on the bus was only the beginning of a life on the public stage. Her act of courage caused her to lose her job and it was some time before she found new work, as her family coped with threats and harassment and eventually moved to Detroit.

In 1965, she joined the staff of Michigan Congressman John Conyers and worked there until her retirement in 1988. She has traveled extensively as a lecturer on civil rights, has honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities, and in 1987, was a founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, which works with young people.

Troy State University had originally planned to put a parking lot at the site of Parks' original act of defiance but it later changed its plans. University President Cameron Martindale said the decision was prompted by the number of people who stopped on that street corner to look at a historic marker about Parks.

"We realized that people were walking away from that marker disappointed, because they wanted to know more about the mother of the modern civil rights movement," said Martindale.

The museum was created with private donations and a $1 million grant from the U.S. Transportation Department.

The museum includes videos, letters, photos and newspaper articles about the boycott. There are several bustand statues of Parks, including a sculpture of her sitting on a bus seat. There is also room on the seat for visitors to sit down and have their photo taken.



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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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