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Gary Younge
'There will never be another Rosa Parks'

About 4,000 people were expected to attend the funeral in Detroit, the city where she lived for the last 48 years of her life. The line for the 2,000 available public seats at the Greater Grace Temple, where the funeral took place, stretched over two blocks, with some waiting overnight in a 40°F (4°C) chill.

"This time will never happen again," Moses Fisher, who had travelled the 530 miles from Nashville to be there, told the Associated Press. "There will never be another Rosa Parks."

Ms Parks left Montgomery, Alabama, where her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger had sparked a boycott of buses that was a defining moment in the struggle for civil rights in 1957, following a litany of racial harassment and death threats.

Although portrayed as a simple seamstress who stumbled into the history books through a spontaneous act of defiance, Ms Parks was in fact a longstanding civil rights activist and feminist who had been ejected from Montgomery's buses on several previous occasions.

After a series of low-paying jobs in Detroit she was hired by congressman John Conyers until she retired in 1987.

Among the many prominent guests attending the service were former president Bill Clinton, his wife Senator Hillary Clinton, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, and the Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan. Soul legend Aretha Franklin was scheduled to sing at the service.

Ms Parks' burial in a mausoleum at Detroit's Woodlawn cemetery marks the end of a nine-day, three-city tour since her death. Her casket left Detroit last Saturday for Montgomery, Alabama, and then went on to Washington DC on Sunday, where she was the first woman to lie in honour at the Capitol Rotunda, where she was visited by President George Bush, along with thousands of others.

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