In her 100th year, is it time to take Rosa Parks off that pedestal?

Just the memory of Rosa Parks can still get the job done. In this case, 100 years after her birth, the late civil rights icon is bringing together the president and the Democratic and Republican leaders of both the House and the Senate. In the partisan atmosphere of Washington, D.C., that’s close to a miracle. The lineup of speakers was scheduled for Wednesday’s dedication of a statue in Parks’ honor in National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol.

As an image is being revealed, it’s past time to correct the false one in America’s imagination: That Rosa Parks was a meek, humble seamstress, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus that day in 1955 – because she was tired – and spontaneously sparked a more than yearlong boycott and a movement. The Rosa Parks sold to the public was what was accepted for a woman, particularly a black woman, but it hid her full measure. She was the respectable symbol that was needed at the time, even though the flesh-and-blood activist was far more interesting.