Rosa Parks settles lawsuit against OutKast. The rappers won't have to pay damages for unauthorized use of the civil rights icon's name, but they'll work on projects to educate kids about her legacy

By Gary Susman
April 15, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

OutKast will soon be turning on their speakerboxxx to sing the praises of Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon who sued them in 1999 over their use of her name as a song title. The New York Times reports that the suit has been settled, with the rap duo and their record labels agreeing to create a tribute CD and a TV special that will pay homage to Parks. The TV show will then be released on DVD and distributed to schools nationwide.

Parks sued the group for defamation over the tune ”Rosa Parks,” which is not about her at all but whose chorus makes an oblique reference to her role in launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, with the refrain, ”Ah ha, hush that fuss/Everybody move to the back of the bus.” A federal court rejected the suit, but it was reinstated on appeal. Now 92, Parks suffers from dementia and is under the guardianship of former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer, who announced the settlement.

Under the settlement terms, the defendants — who include the rappers, music giant Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and its subsidiary labels Arista and LaFace — will admit no wrongdoing but will pay for the educational tribute projects. As for whether Parks will receive any financial compensation, Archer said, ”The living and health needs of Mrs. Parks, who is 92 years old, will be secure under the settlement.”