“For We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight”
(2 Cor. 5:7)
February Is Black History Month! We began this month discussing the history of Black History Month, and then last week we highlighted the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, let’s reflect on the life of one of my favorite African American heroes.
Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913, to Leona (a teacher) and James McCauley (a carpenter). She was small as a child and suffered poor health with chronic tonsillitis. When her parents separated, she moved with her mother to Pine Level, just outside the state capital, Montgomery where she grew up on a farm with her maternal grandparents, mother and younger brother Sylvester. They all were members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), a century-old independent black denomination founded by free blacks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the early nineteenth century. Parks grew up to be an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott.
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks rejected bus driver James F. Blake’s order to vacate a row of four seats in the “colored” section in favor of a white passenger, once the “white” section was filled. After being arrested due to her refusal to vacate her seat, she later helped inspire the black community to boycott the Montgomery buses for over a year.
Amid the bus boycott, Parks was employed as a seamstress at a local department store and was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers’ rights and racial equality. Although widely honored in later years, she also suffered for her actions because she was fired from her job and received death threats for years afterward. Shortly after the boycott, Parks moved to Detroit, where she briefly found similar work, and she served from 1965 to 1988 as secretary and receptionist to John Conyers, an African-American U.S. Representative. She was also active in the Black Power movement and the support of political prisoners in the U.S. United States Congress has called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”
After retirement, Parks wrote her autobiography and continued to insist that there was more work to be done in the struggle for justice. She received national recognition, including the NAACP’s 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, Rosa Parks was the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.
Praise God for the life of Rosa Parks and all of our African American protagonists. The world became better because of their determination to make a difference even at the cost of their precious and priceless lives. As African Americans, whenever we utilize public transportation having the freedom to sit wherever we choose, we should always be mindful that African Americans like Rosa Parks suffered to make this possible for us.
More importantly, Jesus Christ suffered and died for all mankind, and he resurrected one Easter Sunday morning with all power in heaven and in earth reconciling differences between God and humanity. For this, we must be eternally grateful, and we can demonstrate our gratitude by doing whatever the Lord commands. For example, God commands us to give Tithes and Offerings, and when we do this obediently, lovingly, cheerfully and faithfully, God promised to bless us abundantly (Mal. 3:8-10). Currently, we give by mailing or dropping off our Tithes and Offerings to our St. John South Campus (662 South 52nd Street—Richmond, CA 94804) or by giving online through our website (sjmbc.org).
May God bless and sustain each of us.
Your Servant In Christ,
Dr. Kevin B. Hall, Pastor