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Archive for the ‘Historical Women’ Category

To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. God wants me to live every minute for Him in accordance with His will and purpose, sixty minutes of every hour, twenty-four hours of every day, being available to Him. No time can be considered as my own, or as “off-duty” or “free.” I cannot barter with God about how much time I can give to serve Him. Whatever I am doing, be it a routine salaried job, or housework at home, be it holiday time and free, or after-work Christian youth activities, all should be undertaken for Him, to reveal His indwelling presence to those around me. The example of my life must be as telling as my preaching if He is to be honored.  Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare (1925 – 2016) knew from early childhood that she wanted to be a missionary. And she did indeed give all of her life to God.

Helen made the decision at a Sunday School class on her eighth birthday. Her teacher had put together a project for the students involving pictures of Indian children. As Helen looked at the pictures and learned that most children in India had never heard about God she felt sorry for them. Helen could not imagine what it would be like not to know God.

Helen began to pray and study the Bible daily with other Christian women. She spent six and a half years getting a medical degree. Then she spent six months in missionary training and six months in Belgium studying French and tropical medicine. She was going to a place in Eastern Africa that was known as Congo in that time. In 1953, Helen sailed for the Congo with the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade whose motto was, “If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Little could Helen know that she would be called on to make a horrendous sacrifice for Christ.

Helen was the only doctor for two and a half million people. Her initial hospital was made of mud and thatch. Helen learned to make bricks and build walls. She would not ask others to do something that she would not do herself. She learned the Swahili language to enable her to accomplish more.

A few years later a 14-acre plot of land had been converted into a 100-bed hospital and maternity complex. Now tens of thousands of patients could be treated. A medical school had also been started and Helen was very busy teaching the nursing students. The Africans would have their own trained medical personnel to help with the tremendous work.

In the early 1960’s the Congo underwent a revolution. The former colony received its independence and renamed itself Zaire. The transition was a very hard time. Many missionaries went home rather than face the danger from roving bands of rebels. News of murders in other villages was occurring daily.

Helen decided to stay. This meant that she now was only one of two doctors in a very large area. Her African friends were very grateful to her but she was taking a grave risk.

On the night of October 29, 1964, rebel soldiers took her away and abused her horribly. She was humiliated and suffered fierce physical pain. She later testified, “They were brutal and drunken. They cursed and swore, they struck and kicked, they used the butt-end of rifles and rubber truncheons. We were roughly taken, thrown in prisons, humiliated, threatened.” Helen felt that God had failed her. Why didn’t He step in earlier? Why did things have to go so far? She began to be tempted to doubt God’s existence.

Even as Helen was questioning God, she remembered when she gave her life to Christ. God reminded her, “You asked Me, when you were first converted, for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don’t you want it? These are not your sufferings. They’re Mine. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.”

Finally, after five long months of cruel treatment Helen and the others were released. She went back to Britain to recuperate. On this furlough Helen testified all over the United Kingdom about the sufficiency of God. She felt privileged to be an ambassador of Christ, a missionary, and one who identified with His sufferings.

No one would have blamed Helen if she decided not to go back to Congo (Zaire). But she wanted to return and finish the work she had started. The African people still desperately needed doctors. And so Helen returned in March 1966.

Besides work at the hospital and the nursing school, Helen helped to establish 48 rural health clinics in the vicinity. Patients were hearing the Gospel from Helen and the missionary chaplains.

Eventually Helen became exhausted form overwork and not enough rest. She returned to Britain in 1973. She began speaking at conferences all around the world.

In 1989 Helen returned to visit her people in what was then called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

A film was made about her life of service at this time. It is called, Mama Luka Comes Home. “Luka” was the name given to Helen by the Congolese because it is the feminine form of Luke, the gospel writer who was a physician.

My copy of the video was distributed by Vision Video. It is 60 minutes long. It is beautifully photographed. Helen is very honest about her feelings as she revisits the places where she served and suffered for her faith. Helen’s testimony is one of love and forgiveness.

 

 

Helen has also written – Give Me This Mountain (1966), He gave us a Valley (1977) and Digging Ditches (2005) besides numerous articles. She has been a speaker at Urbana at least three times.

Helen died on December 7, 2016 at the grand old age of 91 in Northern Ireland.

“It would seem that God had merely asked me to give Him my mind, my training, the ability that He has given me; to serve Him unquestioningly; and to leave with Him the consequences…. How wonderful God is, and how foolish we are to argue with Him and not to trust Him wholly in every situation as we seek to serve Him!”

Praise the Lord for this wonderful woman’s life and testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God.

 

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Gladys Aylward was born in 1902 in London, England.

While working as a parlor maid in the home of Sir Francis Younghusband she would often take down and read the books he had in his library on China. God was placing a love for the Chinese people in her heart.
After attending a religious meeting where the speaker encouraged people to dedicate their lives to God, Gladys realized with certainty that God was calling her to be a missionary to China. She went to the China Inland Mission Center in London to train. She did not do well there and they advised her against going to a foreign country.

Gladys was certain about her call so she worked hard and saved her money. She wrote to Jeannie Lawson, a missionary who had been serving in China for many years about coming to work with her as her assistant. Miss Lawson accepted Gladys. God worked many miracles for Gladys to get to China.

During her stay in China Gladys had to learn the difficult Chinese language. She was a good assistant to Jeannie Lawson until Miss Lawson died after an accident. Gladys continued on her own. She was often lonely and wondered if she should stay as a single woman.

God brought a ministry to her. The Mandarin of Yangchen asked Gladys to be the official ‘foot inspector’. The cruel practice of binding Chinese girls’ feet had just been outlawed and the Mandarin wanted Gladys to visit the women and help them. Gladys agreed and served the women and girls for many years, until war came to China.

While visiting the women and girls Gladys had opportunity to help the Chinese nationals who were defending their country from the invading Japanese. On her way to outlying villages Gladys would see where enemy troops were and report their movements to the Chinese.

When her village was threatened with bombing and ruin, Gladys helped nearly 100 orphans escape to a safer town. Eventually due to illness Gladys had to leave China. By the time she was well and wanted to go back to China she could not get back in because the communists had taken over. In 1957 Gladys sailed for Taiwan where she helped in orphanages, taught Bible classes, and preached the Gospel until her death in 1970.

 

Gladys’ story is told in pictures in the video “Gladys Aylward: The Small Woman with a Great God”. It is a documentary narrated by Carol Purves, author of “Chinese Whispers: The Gladys Aylward Story”. There are some photographs but mostly it is drawings that depict the action in the story. This is more than made up for by the recordings of the actual voice of Gladys Aylward! What a blessing to hear about the events from Gladys herself.

This is a great video production; I enjoyed it more than the Hollywood movie. Only one little problem – sometimes the audio recording wasn’t super clear. So, turn up the volume and listen to the voice of one of God’s most unselfish, courageous daughters.

My DVD was produced by the Christian History Institute and distributed by Vision Video. It is 62 minutes long. It is narrated by Carol Purves and by Gladys via audio recordings.

 

There are many books including the one by Carol Purves, articles, and even a Hollywood movie about Gladys Aylward. The movie stars Ingrid Bergman and is titled, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”. The movie is a good dramatization of when Gladys had to take nearly 100 children over a high mountain for their safety. Gladys herself was not too crazy about the movie because the producers added a ‘love interest’ which did not exist. Leave it to Hollywood! Also the movie shows the children singing “This Old Man” when they are crossing the mountains. In fact, they were singing, “Count Your Blessings”.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Gladys’ life truly reflected the words in the song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corrie Ten Boom: A Faith Undefeated

(Running time – 55 minutes)

(Produced by Christian History Institute; distributed by Vision Video)

 

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Corrie ten Boom was born and raised in Holland. She was a middle-aged woman when World War II started. The Germans quickly took control of Holland.

The Nazis were persecuting the Jews wherever they had control and this included Holland. Corrie’s family decided to help the Jews though it was against the law. They put their lives at risk for doing this. I would recommend either the book The Hiding Place (published 1971) or the movie of the same name (released 1975) for you to get the whole remarkable story of the courage of Corrie ten Boom and her family.

The ten Boom’s got involved with the Dutch underground to help people escape from the Nazi’s. They built a secret room in their house – The Hiding Place – and hid Jews there when the Nazi’s came around for a search. The ten Boom’s risked their lives to save as many people as possible.

One day in 1944 they were betrayed. For their “crimes” Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Their father Casper was ill and he died after only a few days in prison.

Corrie miraculously hid her little bible from the cruel camp guards. She and Betsie were able to lead a Bible study in the freezing cold, flea infested barracks. Betsie died while in the prison but not before giving Corrie an amazing prophecy. Betsie told Corrie that they would be free before the New Year. She also told Corrie, “We shall go everywhere telling people that there is no place on earth so dark that God’s love cannot shine into it. They will believe us, because we have been here in Ravensbruck.”

Betsie was ‘freed’ from her pain and suffering to go to be with Jesus late in December, 1944. Corrie was miraculously freed on December 31, 1944.

Corrie spent the rest of her life traveling around the world preaching about God’s forgiveness and the need for reconciliation. She also built homes for concentration camp survivors. She built one at Bloemendaal, turning Betsie’s dream into a reality.

Corrie had a chance to put her own principles of forgiveness and reconciliation into action when she came face to face with one of her former guards from Ravensbruck.

In 1947, Corrie had been speaking at a church when a man came up to her to tell her that he had accepted Christ as his savior. He thanked Corrie for her message and said that he was grateful that his sins had been forgiven. He now extended his hand to Corrie and asked her for her forgiveness.

This man had been one of the especially wicked guards. Corrie and Betsie had been ordered to strip naked to be inspected by this man. There was no need for this practice other than to humiliate the women. Now as Corrie faced this man memories of that humiliation came back. Visions of the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of women’s clothes on the floor, and the pain on her gentle sister’s face came to her mind. Corrie was boiling inside.

Corrie stiffened her back. When the man extended his hand she kept her own hand at her side. How could she forgive this man after all of the cruel things he had done? But she prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him.” Corrie tried to smile. She struggled to raise her hand but found it impossible. She prayed again for Jesus to help her. She remembered that Christ had died for this man too. How could she ask for more?

Finally, she took his hand and later recounted, ” …the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

“I forgive you with all my heart,” she said to the man and she meant it.

Corrie moved to America in 1977. In 1978 she was paralyzed by a stroke. Corrie went to be with the Lord on April 15, 1983 on her 91st birthday. Truly Corrie ten Boom’s story is a wonderful example of Christian faith and forgiveness.

 

 

 

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We have been doing a series on amazing black women FIRSTS. We have admiration for Bessie Coleman, early pilot, daredevil and stunt flyer; Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader; Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon; Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist; Ida B. Wells, first woman to challenge the bigotry of the transportation system by boarding a train in the ‘white’ section in 1884. Rosa Parks challenged the ‘Jim Crow’ laws in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus. These women were all very great women of courage and much to be admired.

We must include the story of Maggie Lena Walker – the first woman bank president in the United States. Maggie was also a caring Christian woman whose work enabled many black people to lead better, happier lives. She is especially remembered for her concern for the welfare of black youth.

Maggie Lena Draper was born on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia to Elizabeth Draper, a former slave. Maggie attended the Richmond Colored Normal School, dedicated to the education of black children. It was while attending this school that Maggie joined the order of St. Luke’s.

Maggie married Armstead Walker, Jr. in 1886. Maggie and Armstead has three sons; tragically baby Armstead died while still an infant. Melvin and Russell were born later.

In 1901 Maggie became the grand secretary of the Independent Order of St. Luke, an organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of blacks. When Maggie joined St. Luke’s it was struggling financially. With her incredible abilities, Maggie turned it around and made it into a flourishing organization.

Maggie made the organization a success by doing these things:

In 1902 she founded a newspaper, the St. Luke Herald to spread the to local chapters and to help with the educational work.

In 1903 she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. She remained the president until 1929. Under Maggie’s leadership the bank served a membership of over 50,000 in 1500 local chapters. Though many other banks failed during the Great Depression, Maggie kept her back alive by merging with two other banks in 1929.

In 1905 she opened the St. Luke Emporium, a department store that offered employment to black people along with a source of less expensive goods.

While doing all of this Maggie was active in social work. She took part in many educational efforts.

In 1925 in recognition of her efforts in the spiritual, civic, industrial and fraternal forces of the community and at large, the Virginia Union University awarded the honorary degree of Master of Science to Maggie.

For the last few years of her life, Maggie Walker was ill and confined to a wheelchair. She died from the complications of diabetes on December 15, 1934 at age 70. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond. In 1979 her home on East Leigh St. was purchased by the National Parks Service and became a National Historic Site.

 

 

I am so happy to put links to pictures of Maggie Lena Walker. Go to these links for her amazing story. Both productions are beautiful and interesting.

“Maggie Lena Walker”, by Marion Newton, YouTube, 11 minutes, 30 seconds.

Published on Oct 1, 2015

The First Black Woman in the United States to become a president of a local bank, Maggie’s story is told in “her voice” by a narrator. There are many great quotes. The pictures tell the story in a very memorable way. Her Christian faith became the most important thing in her life.

https://youtu.be/iRVHvWchnXI

Another great link:

“Carry On: The Life and Legacy of Maggie Lena Walker”

https://youtu.be/QR3CexPZXEk

 

 

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“Lucy Laney is an excellent builder. Her contribution to American life is that of building character.”     Attorney James C. Waters, Former Secretary of the Law School, Howard University.

Lucy Craft Laney was a true builder of society. Remembered as the founder and principal of the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia for fifty years, Lucy is one of the most famous educators in the United States. She founded the first kindergarten and the first nurses’ training school in Georgia.

Lucy Craft Laney was born a slave in 1854 in Macon, Georgia. She spent most of her childhood in Savannah where her father, Reverend David Laney was a preacher or exhorter. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister and pastored a church. Lucy’s mother, Louise was a very godly woman who raised not only her own large brood of children but took in the Laney cousins and many orphans. Lucy loved being around other children. She would continue to love the company of children her whole life long.

Lucy was very bright and was taught to read at the age of four by Miss Campbell, the master’s sister. Miss Campbell recognized Lucy’s giftedness and in spite of the local prejudice against blacks undertook to educate Lucy herself. Thanks to Miss Campbell Lucy was later able to attend Atlanta University at the tender age of fifteen. In 1873 Lucy was a member of the first graduating class of Atlanta University. She then began a teaching career in Savannah.

After teaching for 10 years, Lucy began her own school in the basement of Christ Presbyterian church in Augusta. On the first morning there were six pupils, three little girls, one older girl, and two boys. At first, Lucy had only wanted to take girls but her heart was too big for poor children and she accepted many underprivileged boys. When the boy would show up at her door, Lucy had the gift to see past the child’s raggedness to what the boy could become.

By the end of the first year Lucy had 75 students. At the end of the second year she reported 234. In 1886, Lucy visited the Presbyterian Board’s annual meeting to seek funds. The Board was impressed with her work but only voted to give her the funds to get home. However, while attending the Board conference Lucy made friends with Mrs. Francine Haines who would become a great benefactor. The little school which had been called Miss Laney’s school was renamed in honor of Mrs. Haines. Later it would be chartered and named the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute.

By 1893 the institution had become a large boarding school, furnishing a home for 60 – 70 girls and some rented cottages for 15 – 20 boys. In 1906 an administration building, McGregor Hall was erected. Miss Laney believed that girls should get a good education for a teaching career but should also be self-sufficient. Therefore, the school ran a model garden.

Soon the school would boast 26 teachers and 713 students. Graduates would go on to attend Atlanta University, Fisk U., Howard U., Shaw U., and Taladega College. Her students would be found in all walks of life throughout the United States.

One of Lucy’s most important contributions to the community was the introduction of trained nurses into Atlanta. Lucy convinced the city to give her an old “pest house” where patients with infectious diseases were kept, to use as a hospital. She brought a white trained nurse from Canada to be superintendent. Ten girls at Haines studied nursing. Later when the city built a new two-hundred bed hospital, one of these colored girls was made its superintendent.

Besides all of her work at the school, Lucy was involved with efforts to alleviate the prejudice against blacks in her community. She helped to found the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1918. She was active in the Interracial Commission, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Niagara Movement. She helped integrate into the community the work of the YMCA and the YWCA. Many prominent blacks were her friends including Madame C. J. Walker (see post 5/2/17) and Mary McLeod Bethune (story posted on 4/11/17).

In recognition of her accomplishments Lucy was awarded the degree of Master of Arts by Lincoln University in 1904; by her alma mater, Atlanta University, in 1923; by South Carolina State College in 1925; and by Howard University in 1930.

Lucy passed away in 1933. In 1974, she was honored to have her portrait placed in the Georgia state capitol by Governor Jimmy Carter, along with portraits of Rev. Henry McNeal Turner and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lucy’s portrait bears tribute to “the mother of the children of the people,” …. a woman who knew that “God didn’t use any different dirt to make me than the first lady of the land.” Lucy was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement in 1992.

I really love looking at old pictures of people and I found this wonderful video on You Tube. You will get a few more details of Lucy’s story as well as the enjoyment of seeing much that can be explained better in pictures than in my short biography. I know you will really enjoy this story of a truly great American educator. It’s a little over 9 minutes long and the production is professionally done. Author – Tina Calhoun.

https://youtu.be/lRiEJdz6tco

You should also consider checking out the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History if you are ever in Augusta.

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For the last few weeks we have focused on the contributions to society made by black women. Bessie Coleman, early stunt flyer and first black woman with an international pilot’s license (post April 4, 2017), Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader (April 11); Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut (April 18); Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon (April 25); (May 2) Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist, and last week (May 9) Rosa Parks, courageous mother of the civil rights movement.

This week I would like to share an article from Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) about Rev. Emily Awino Onyango, written by Sarah Rodriquez. The title is – “Journey into Priesthood: Egalitarian Women Making History”, published on March 22, 2017. There are many stories of courageous women at CBE’s website. Please consider joining the organization and supporting their work. They also have a book store and you will find many of the books that I have reviewed on this site there. http://www.cbeinternational.org/

In shining a light on these women’s stories, we will defy patriarchy’s attempts to marginalize the historical contributions of women. Instead, we will unashamedly celebrate their courage and persistence.

This week’s article will focus on Rev. Emily Awino Onyango, an Anglican priest ordained in her native Kenya.

Emily was born and raised in a Christian home. She spent her childhood learning Christian values, having family prayers, and attending church. At the age of ten, Emily attended a children’s camp. It was at this camp that Emily first decided to have a personal relationship with Christ.

As she grew older, the people around her encouraged her in her faith. For instance, she said, “When I was in secondary school, I was greatly inspired by my Christian religious education teacher, Lorna Mwanga, who was very passionate about her faith. I also greatly admired the life and vocation of the prophets that she was teaching about.”[1] Emily learned much from her religious teachers, and she grew to greatly admire the female evangelists and administrators in her church.

I also asked Emily to list some female missionaries who inspired her. She named Olive Owen, the wife of Archdeacon Owen who worked in Nyanza, Kenya in the 1940s. Olive Owen supported the women in her community and fought for women’s rights in the community and in the church. Thus, it is easy to see why she inspires Emily, as Emily has faced her share of uphill battles while entering church ministry in Kenya.

According to Emily, “Olive Owen said that her main mission was to liberate the girls in her community who were suffering. She was one of the people who worked hard for the establishment of a girl’s school… and supported the girls who were being forced into marriage with older men.”[2]

Emily felt that God had called her to church ministry, so she applied to St. Paul’s United Theological College, from which she graduated in 1983. Next, she became a Sunday school coordinator in the diocese and a lay reader at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Kisumu, Kenya. She describes this work as “very fulfilling, as [she] had the opportunity to influence the worldview of the children.”[3] Emily advanced in church leadership when she was appointed as a deacon on July 29, 1984. She was eventually ordained as a priest on December 15, 1985.

Naturally, Emily faced much resistance as she climbed church leadership. Although the Lambeth Conference in 1978 allowed for women to be ordained in the Anglican Church, each diocese was allowed to choose whether or not they were going to ordain women as priests.

The Diocese of Maseno South decided to affirm women’s ordination, and Rev. Lucia Okuthe became the first female Anglican priest in Kenya. Of course, Rev. Okuthe’s ordination was not without controversy. According to Emily, “People found [women’s ordination] difficult to accept because it was against African culture . . . Even as I was teaching, they had stereotypes, like ‘women are stupid’ and ‘women cannot keep secrets.’”[4]. Emily had to contend with a great amount of gender-based prejudice when she started going through the process of ordination, something most women in ministry experience in pursuing their calling.

Many disagreed with the ordination of Rev. Lucia Okuthe, but according to Emily, she still had an advantage over Emily. She said, “People argued that Lucia was in a better position because she was a widow and she was past menopause, while I was young and single.”[5] The clergy of the church in which Emily was ordained mainly objected to Emily’s marital status, because they believed that marriage made women distinguished and respectable in society. Nevertheless, Emily was ordained as a single woman.

When Emily first entered ministry, she saw a great gender disparity. She had graduated with men who immediately began earning twice as much as she did. Moreover, she did not receive housing allowances like the men. When she started teaching in a Bible school, “it was evident that most of the ordinands, who were predominately men, were against having women in the ministry.”[6]

Every area of the world faces different challenges to gender equality. Emily noted that some parts of her culture have perpetuated gender disparity in the church. She said that African traditional culture contains “negative stereotypes and myths [about women] that inform the worldview of the people.” Emily believes that these beliefs, along with a patriarchal interpretation of Scripture, have impeded the growth of egalitarianism in Africa.

Nevertheless, Emily still remains positive. While she encountered resistance to her ordination, she also met many Christians and parishioners who encouraged her and praised her spiritual gift for ministry.

Emily is currently researching gender inequality. She aims to devise a curriculum that will empower members of the clergy and the laity to understand gender issues. She also continues to train clergy, evangelists, and others, as well as perform advocacy work in her community. Emily is one of the many women forging a path for other women in church leadership.

Notes

[1] Emily Onyango, interview by Sarah Rodriguez, October 6, 2016.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.

 

 

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We cannot recount the stories of so many courageous black women without telling the story of Rosa McCauley Parks.

 

 

 

 

We have admiration for Bessie Coleman, early pilot, daredevil and stunt flyer (April 4, 2017);

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader (post, April 11);

 

 

 

 

 

Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut (April 18);

 

 

 

Katherine Johnson,

 

 

Dorothy Vaughan,

 

 

 

 

and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon (April 25);

 

 

 

Last week (May 2) Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

 

 

 

 

Ida B. Wells (post May 13, 2015) did in 1884 what Rosa Parks did in 1955 but on a train. Ida suffered humiliation and abuse as a black woman. A turning point for Ida came one day in 1884 when she was riding the train between Memphis and Nashville. She had bought a first class ticket and expected to use it. Ida got into the first class compartment for whites only. The train officials told her to get in the “Negro”* car instead and she refused to move. The railway men physically removed her. Ida sued the railroad and won a settlement, but the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned it.

Ida B. Wells became an activist seventy years before Rosa Parks. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of a bus where the “colored”* people were supposed to sit. Rosa’s act of defiance was the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

Rosa McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913. She met Raymond Parks and they married when she was 19 years old. They lived in Montgomery Alabama.

Raymond was a barber and Rosa worked at a department store. She joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1943. She was the secretary for the organization.

 

During this period of time, segregation laws forced black people to sit at the back of buses. If the seats for white people were full, black people had to give up their seats or get off of the bus. On December 1, 1955 Rosa got on the bus after work as usual and sat in the black section. As the bus began to fill up the bus driver moved the “colored” sign further back and told Rosa to move back. She refused. The bus driver got off and called for the police.

 

Rosa was arrested and charged with breaking Montgomery’s segregation laws. She went to jail until some friends could bail her out.

 

Inspired by her courage and the preaching of Martin Luther King Jr., a bus boycott began. Beginning on Monday, December 5 thousands of people stayed off of the buses. They found other ways to get to work sometimes even walking for miles. The bus companies began to lose a lot of money. After 381 days the city of Montgomery got rid of the busing segregation laws. This was a huge victory for the Civil Rights movement.

But it caused hard times for Rosa and Raymond.
They both lost their jobs. They suffered harassment and threat of bodily harm. Finally, they made the decision to move to Detroit, Michigan.

 

 

 

As the Civil Rights movement grew Rosa continued to work for equality for African Americans. In 1987, Rosa founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. She also received many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1996. In 1999, she received the Congressional Gold Medal.

 

Rosa died at age 92 on October 24, 2005. She was honored greatly by being buried at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. More than 50,000 people attended her ceremony.

Rosa is one of those people whose lives changed history. She is a hero to all.

*In the 1800’s African Americans were referred to as “Negroes” or Blacks. In the mid-twentieth century the term “colored” was common.

 

I watched a movie produced about Rosa Parks starring Angela Bassett called “The Rosa Parks Story”. It was released in 2002 by Xenon Pictures. It was beautifully done. Rosa was just an ordinary person who took an extraordinary stand against injustice.

The movie tells of her early life, romance, and marriage. The struggles that Rosa went through affected her relationship with Raymond, but they weathered the storms together. I hope you will see the movie. You will be inspired and touched.

 

 

 

 

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