MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - 54 years ago Montgomery African Americans boycotted the city bus system.
The action came just days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white rider.
And now, thanks to the stand she and others took people are taking a stand of their own by commemorating the boycott.
"It's very significant because it says to the world that we still remember the sacrifices that were made back then," says Juanita Jones Abernathy, wife of the late famous civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy.
Montgomery residents and national civil rights leaders gathered at Mount Zion AME Zion Church in Montgomery honoring those they say gave them a voice.
"The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the initial movement of the self-determination era," says civil rights leader, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery.
"They opened doors that can never be closed to make this a better city," says Martin Luther King, III.
These leaders say great strides in civil rights have been made, but racism still plagues our nation.
"There is a tremendous amount of work to be done because we have not become a colorblind society," adds Abernathy.
"We've won the battle of the law, now we must win the battle of the hearts and the will," says Lowery.
They believe remembering those who paved the way and looking past the outward appearance is the only way to move forward.
"Only then will race not matter," says Abernathy.
"A people that do not remember their history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past," adds King.
"We have to work hard at changing human minds and human hearts. It's the most difficult thing in the world to change, but we have to keep working at it," says Lowery.
The Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute held the anniversary service.
The organization says their main goal is to communicate to young people how important events like the boycott were.