"The woman we honored today held no public office, she wasn't a wealthy woman, didn't appear in the society pages," said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. "And yet when the history of this country is written, it is this small, quiet woman whose name will be remembered long after the names of senators and presidents have been forgotten."
CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts reports that the mood was
"There's nothing to be sad about. She was a wonderful woman," said Eva Fortune.
The funeral, which stretched well past its three-hour scheduled time, followed a week of remembrances during which Parks' coffin was brought from Detroit, where she died Oct. 24; to Montgomery, Ala., where she sparked the civil rights movement 50 years ago by refusing to give her bus seat to a white man; to Washington, where she became the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.
Those in the audience held hands and sang the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome" as family members filed past her casket before it was closed.
"Mother Parks, take your rest. You have certainly earned it," said Bishop Charles Ellis III of Greater Grace Temple, who led the service.
Former President Clinton told those packed into the Greater Grace Temple church in Detroit that Parks became known around the world "because of a single, simple act of dignity and courage that struck a lethal blow to the foundations of legal bigotry."
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm called Parks "a heroic warrior for equality" — and "a warrior for the everyman and the everywoman."
Illinois Senator Barack Obama said history will remember "this small, quiet woman." He said her name will be known "long after the names of senators and presidents have been forgotten."
Under brilliant autumn sunshine, crowds began gathering at the church hours before the doors opened, reports CBS News correspondent Lou Miliano. Everyday people joined national political figures like former President Bill Clinton and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, arm-in-arm, swaying to "We Shall Overcome" as mourners filed past the casket, final good-byes on their lips.
Also present were Michigan governors past and present, Democratic politicians, entertainers such as actress Cicely Tyson and singer Aretha Franklin, auto industry executives, and civil rights activists like Rev. Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan.
President Clinton recalled that he was a schoolboy when Parks refused to sit in the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus.
"When Rosa showed us that black folks didn't have to sit in the back any more, two of my friends and I, who strongly approved of what she had done, decided we didn't have to sit in the front any more," he said.
"She did help to set us all free," said Mr. Clinton, the first of some 25 speakers. "She made us see, and agree, that everyone should be free."