Talk show host Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks yesterday (31OCT05) at a memorial service in Washington, DC.

A large crowd of mourners made their way to the Metropolitan AME Church to pay tribute to the African-American woman whose refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus helped spark the modern civil rights movement.

And Winfrey, who met Parks on numerous occasions, told the mourners, "I'm here today to say a final thank you, Sister Rosa, for being a great woman, who used your life to serve us all.

"That day you refused to give up your seat on the bus, you changed the trajectory of my life, and the lives of so many other people in the world. I would not be standing here today, nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen to sit down. I know that and I honour that...

"I marvel at your will, I celebrate you strength to this day and I am forever grateful... I owe you to succeed."

Parks, who died of natural causes on 24 October (05) at the age of 92, will be buried in Detroit, Michigan, tomorrow (02NOV05).