Parks was 92 when she died Oct. 24 in Detroit. She lay in honor in Montgomery, Ala., and in Washington before her body was returned Monday night to the city where she had lived since 1957.
Her mahogany casket was flown from Washington to Detroit, where it was carried into the rotunda of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for round-the-clock viewing through early Wednesday.
By the time the museum doors opened Monday night, thousands were lined up outside. As rain began to fall steadily, umbrellas sprouted and some members of the crowd began singing "We Shall Overcome."
Tony Dotson, 43, a maintenance worker from Detroit, stood near the front of the line Monday night and said he wanted to pay honor to Parks.
"I appreciate what a blessing she was, and I'm thankful she was right here in Detroit and we didn't have to travel far to see her."
Deborah Lee Horne, 56, of Detroit, said she was encouraged by the sight of so many children and teenagers waiting. "I think what she did needs to be highlighted for young people," she said. "If not, they have no idea."
Viewing was to continue until 5 a.m. Wednesday, with Parks' funeral to be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Greater Grace Temple Church. Former President Clinton and singer Aretha Franklin were scheduled to attend.
In a three-hour memorial service Monday at historic Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, Parks was remembered for the example she set with a simple act of defiance: refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus on Dec. 1, 1955.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who was born in Mississippi during segregation, said Parks' stand "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,"
And despite Parks being known to the world for one seemingly simple action and a life as a seamstress, CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart reports that contrary to the popular myth that Parks stumbled into her role as martyr for a movement, the evidence suggests that the little woman in the oversized glasses had been
Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church said, "We are here not because Rosa Parks died but because she lived graciously, effectively and purposefully, touching the lives of millions."
Parks' life was celebrated at the church Monday, where several hundred people were listening to tributes by Winfrey, NAACP chairman Julian Bond, and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., for whom Parks worked in his Detroit congressional office for more than two decades.
Conyers recalled that when former South African President Nelson Mandela visited Detroit in 1990, he led the crowd in a chant of Rosa Parks' name, "which made us realize that this is an international phenomenon that we celebrate. Rosa Parks is worldwide."
In attendance were Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and DNC chairman Howard Dean.
A painting of the elderly Parks rested above her mahogany coffin at the center of the altar, which was lined with flower arrangements. A large wooden crucifix loomed over the choir, which led the crowd in singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic."