TROY’s Rosa Parks Museum plans observances for Rosa Parks Day

An art unveiling ceremony, free admission and a concert by The Westerlies highlight the activities commemorating Rosa Parks Day.

An art unveiling ceremony, free admission and a concert by The Westerlies highlight the activities commemorating Rosa Parks Day.

Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum will unveil a new piece of outdoor artwork and provide a free concert by the Westerlies on Wednesday, Dec. 1 in observance of Rosa Parks Day in Alabama.

In 2018, the Alabama Legislature unanimously approved a bill declaring Dec. 1 as Rosa Parks Day in the state, making the Alabama one of four states to designate holidays in honor of Parks and marking the first Alabama holiday to honor a woman. Dec. 1 marks the anniversary of Parks’ historic 1955 arrest after she refused to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white male passenger. Her arrest sparked a boycott of the Montgomery city buses by the African American community, eventually leading to the desegregation of the city’s public bus system. This year marks the 66th anniversary of Mrs. Parks’ arrest and the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The work by artist Ian Mangum will be unveiled during a by-invitation ceremony beginning at 11:30 a.m. The ceremony will include remarks by Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University, Col. Eries Mentzer, Maxwell Air Force Base Commander, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and attorney and author Fred Gray, Sr. Ray White, Vice Chancellor of TROY’s Montgomery Campus, will serve as emcee for the event. The artwork will be available for public viewing beginning at 1 p.m.

The museum will also offer free admission and arts and crafts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The 1950s-era bus will also be on site at the museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A free Rosa Parks Day concert by The Westerlies, a critically acclaimed New York-based brass quartet, will be held in the museum’s auditorium at 2 p.m. Presented by Chamber Music America, The Westerlies are composed by Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone. The quartet have collaborated with ClefWorks and Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum to plan a three-day educational residency and concert honoring Mrs. Parks. In conjunction with the Festival of New Trumpet Music, they commissioned a new work, “For Rosa” from composer Mason Bynes, to be presented at the museum.

Bynes, a vocalist and multimedia artist from Sugar Land, Texas, received her Master of Music in Composition from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and she also holds a Bachelor of Music in composition from the University of North Texas.

The museum will continue its celebration on Saturday, Dec. 4, with the presentation “Preserving Their Legacy: Activism Then and Now.” The event, which will begin at 11 a.m. in the museum’s auditorium, will feature keynote speaker Karen Gray Houston, an award-winning broadcast journalist whose career has spanned more than 40 years. In retirement, Houston wrote “Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy,” a memoir chronicling her family’s involvement in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her late father, Judge Thomas W. Gray, was a founding member of the Montgomery Improvement Association, and her uncle is renowned civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who represented Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The event will also feature the small group presentation, “We Are Rosa Parks” and the Rites of Passage Circle Dance presented by members of Women in Training, Inc. Founded by Breanna and Brooke Bennett, Women in Training is a youth empowerment organization that advocates for menstrual equity and education and engages in community service and social justice. This will also be a collection site for menstrual items to be donated to WIT.

The museum also will offer free admission and arts and crafts for children from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.