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Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

Two civil rights leaders - one a self-described simple woman fighting injustice, the other a brash comic who shattered barriers - were honored Friday by the Los Angeles City Council.

In honor of Rosa Parks, considered the mother of the civil rights movement, three council members unveiled a commemorative sign reading, ``Inspiration for a Nation.''

The sign will be installed on more than 400 city-owned buses to mark Parks' defiance a half-century ago when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala.

``She never understood what the fuss was about,'' said Councilman Bernard Parks, who met Rosa Parks in her later years. ``She saw herself as a simple woman righting a wrong.''

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who was joined by Ed Reyes, said the city wanted to offer a permanent honor.

``Rosa Parks was a strong woman whose actions changed the course of history for millions of Americans,'' Perry said. ``She was a testament to how one person can shape our nation positively and serve as a role model for generations to come.''

Councilman Bernard Parks, a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said he will propose the signs also be installed on all MTA buses.

The recognition of Richard Pryor, a groundbreaking comedian credited with opening the entertainment industry to a new breed of comics, was suggested by Councilman Herb Wesson, who once aspired to be a stand-up comic.

Pryor died last week of a heart attack.

``Until you've tried it, you can't appreciate how difficult it is,'' Wesson said. ``Richard Pryor was a master at it. And, he showed the world that he could cross barriers and bring in white audiences. It soon became apparent that if you wanted to have a successful movie, you needed a role for Richard Pryor.''

While often profane in his performances and pursued by personal demons that led to problems with drugs and alcohol, Pryor remained a source of support and inspiration to his family.

``We had our problems, but we always worked them out in the end,'' said Pryor's wife, Jennifer, who married him twice. ``The thing about Richard is that he never realized how big he was. It wasn't until he saw other comics coming up, using his material, that he saw the impact he had.''

Actor-comedian George Lopez said it was Pryor who motivated him.

``As a young kid growing up in the Valley it was Richard Pryor who showed me there was a way to succeed,'' Lopez said.

Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 17, 2005

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