On the passing of Rosa Parks

In yesterday’ Columbus Dispatch there was one of the best political cartoons I have ever seen. It was a picture of Rosa Parks waiting at a bus stop with a bus pulling over to pick her up. On the front of the bus was the destination, “Heaven.” How fitting!

The name Rosa Parks has become synonymous with the civil rights struggles for African Americans in this country. Unfortunately, to most of us, the name seemed like some cold, distant figure of ancient history. Little did we consider that she was right here in our midst the entire time. There are several things about Rosa Parks’ leadership that I find especially memorable and feel the tug at my soul to point out.

First of all, she was a she. Imagine that . . . a woman taking the bull by the horns, getting done what she felt was right to do all along. In her 1960’s pre-women’s lib fashion she stood up against the male-dominated society . . . and, yes, the male-dominated fight for civil rights, and made a lasting impression that will never be forgotten (let’s pray). I think we miss that sometimes . . . she was a woman . . . this bull we have in churches about men and women should be humbled by humbling Ms. Rosa Parks.

Secondly, she was black . . . imagine that . . . a black women standing up in the white south. Not only was she a she, but her skin was a darker shade than the majority of folks around. And yet . . . as I said above . . . her stand will stand in history as one of the great acts of civil disobedience to ever occur.

I am finding that leaders most often come from places where we may least expect. I could add a third point . . . that she was poor (or lower middle class . . . but not the kind of social class that can ever achieve political office in this country). The point is Rosa Parks was our nation’s Mother Teresa in many ways. She quietly, but defiantly let everyone know what was good and true.

I have heard several racial comments from people I know just within the past two weeks. It is astounding how racism is such a prevalent and unshakeable problem. We need to be more united, especially in churches, against the sin of racism. May Rosa Parks look down from her heavenly abode, and smile at the work of churches in the name of Christ for race reparation and unity.


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