City of Montgomery–Warrant #14254

I love this land. I’m loyal to my country, I’m proud to be an American and I’m interested in its politics and its progressions. It angers me when I hear of its being demeaned and ridiculed. The United States of America is the greatest country on the face of the earth. My heart quickens at the sight of our beautiful flag aflutter against a pristine sky. I stand splendidly erect as I pledge allegiance to its red, white and blue, and, proudly, I belt out the words to The Star Spangled Banner. With passion and sincerity I sing the beautiful song, God Bless America.

But there is a part of our history of which I am deeply ashamed. The decades of absolutely inhumane treatment of our black people is an embarrassment. The ink that marks such story is a blight–a stain– on the history pages of the United States of America. It astonishes me to recall that it is our very recent history that speaks of such despicable acts as being common and acceptable among us–yeah, even the norm. It astounds me to recall that it was only in the year of 1955, the year I graduated from high school, that Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama. Her crime? She would not move. She refused to rise from her seat and walk to the back of a city bus. It is nothing short of outrageous that she was expected to perform such a humiliating act. I regret that such a story accurately depicts a segment of my country’s history.

On December 1, 1955, during a typical evening rush hour in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42 year-old woman took a seat near the front of the bus on her way home from the Montgomery Fair department store where she worked as a seamstress. Before she reached her destination, she quietly set off a social revolution when the bus driver instructed her to move, and she refused. The bus driver called the police and they arrested Rosa Parks, an African American woman of unchallenged character. The African-American community of Montgomery organized a boycott of the buses in protest of the discriminating treatment they had endured for years. The boycott, under the leadership of 26-year-old minister Martin Luther King, Jr., was a peaceful, coordinated protest that lasted 381 days and captured world attention. Mrs. Parks, who passed away on October 24, was called the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” She was not the first person to be prosecuted for violating the segregation laws on the city buses, but it was her quiet act of defiance that touched a nerve in the black community of Montgomery, Alabama, and set in motion a historic act of resistance.

On this day as we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Martin Luther Kingand as I duly honor him, I wish also to commemorate the brave actions of Rosa Parks. What a courageous, splendid model of humanity she was. With what distinction she served us–the peoples of the United States of America. Her heroism is noted on the City of Montgomery Warrant #14254.

Images of documents and other material courtesy of the National Archives.

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My devotional blog is here.

9 thoughts on “City of Montgomery–Warrant #14254

  1. During these troubled times, I was in contact with a distant relative in the S.F. Bay area. I remember writing to her, in tears, how could people act like that towards other human beings – after the horrors of WWII. I thought that the whole human race could come under the banner of love and kindness, and respect for life. Well I didn’t understand much then, I was a kid still.
    How it all grieves God who loves all so much.
    Martin Luther King Jr., a great man.
    Rosa Parks, a very courageous woman.

    The assassination of MLK was a terrible tragedy.

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  2. Ever since I was a kid, it made me sick to think that people could treat other people differently, just because of their skin color. As a teen, learning about concentration camps and Nazi’s, I was again ashamed that as humans, we would let someone get away with treating other people like this for ANY amount of time.

    Both of those things are quite strange coming from me, who as a girl who was raised in quite a racist community, with parents who are not… let’s just say, in agreement with me on the issue of race.

    I am thankful and awed that such a man existed, and showed us by example the way to stand up for what is right.

    Thanks for sharing your moving post. The fingerprints and warrants make it somehow more real.

    xoxo

    Thank you, Jayleigh.
    What are you doing up so late?

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  3. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the countries history with black people but, these people are incredible for standing up and making changes in your Country, and it shows. America is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, I had nothing but positive experiences when I visited. And it is great to see such amazing African Americans in your Country taking pride & doing great things despite their history.

    Hi, Sansoucy. Thank you for the kind words about America. And yes, despite our color or our creed, we must stand up for what is right. I believe the entire world would be in better condition today, if, in the past, and in the present, we would defend godly and elevated principles.

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  4. I agree, Shirley. Rosa Parks was chosen by the NAACP because her character was impeccable. She was an older, married woman, unlike the young woman, unmarried and pregnant who did the same thing Rosa did, only a few months earlier. And King, who was newly married and in his first pastorate at Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery, didn’t really want to head the Montgomery Improvement Association, but he did.

    “When the bus boycott began, no one, including Rosa Parks herself, expected that a simple refusal to give up her seat to a white man would grow into a nationwide Civil Rights Movement. There was no over-all plan, and there were no pre-chosen leaders. Mr. Rufus Lewis, who headed the Citizens Steering Committee, and Mr. E. D. Nixon, the president of the local NAACP, who came to Parks’s aid after her arrest, were the most likely candidates to head the MIA, but among the black leaders, there was an “appalling lack of unity.” Nixon called Ralph Abernathy just prior to calling King, not only because he knew Abernathy better than he knew King, but also because Abernathy was Rosa Parks’s pastor. If Nixon had been able to attend the first meeting held at Dexter on 2 December, King felt sure that he would have been “automatically elected” to preside. He was out of town, however, due to his weekend job as a railroad porter, so no one was elected at the first meeting.
    King was a “compromise candidate,” nominated at the 5 December meeting by Lewis, who probably thought he could not win, according to Abernathy. Unwilling to acquiesce to Nixon’s leadership, Lewis made a motion that King be elected, rather than simply presenting his name as a nominee. Nixon, however, claimed that he did not plan to “serve as president” unless the group rejected his “man: Martin Luther King.” Although King felt hesitant because he was new in town, others knew that he had not been in Montgomery long enough to be under the control of local white officials. What King saw as a disadvantage others saw as an advantage. During a heated discussion in which the attending pastors’ fears became unveiled, it was suggested that the leaders remain anonymous to avoid confrontation with white people. Nixon fumed, and then he bellowed, “What the hell you people talkin’ ’bout?” He accused them of being “scared to stand on [their] feet” and called them “boys.” King, who had arrived late and missed a substantial part of the action, shouted that “nobody” called him a coward. Then to prove it, he accepted the position. ”

    quoted sections are from my master’s thesis, “MAKING ALL THINGS NEW: THE REDEMPTIVE VALUE OF UNMERITED SUFFERING IN THE LIFE AND WORKS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (Wake Forest University, 2000).

    Thanks for sharing this, Helen. If we’re not careful, when we look back on these and similar incidents, such courage seems easy and almost expected. But not at all was this the case. We have the vantage point of history to see what a remarkable outcome would proceed from their heroism. They did not have such vision…but walked “blindly” and certainly courageously.

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  5. I, too, want to pause and honor these two people whose actions lead to civil rights. Like you, I have always admired Rosa Parks, the common person. It was her actions rather than words, that brought attention to a horrible disgrace. I guess because King was a preacher, we know he had a “harder forehead” 🙂 and therefore more courage. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t place him any less than Rosa. They are both heroes and deserve honor.

    And to think, Jana, that James Earl Ray then assassinated MLK. What a horrible day that was. As I recall MLK was still quite young–early 40s, maybe. Such a shame.

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  6. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. deserve our honor and respect. We honor them not only by remembering what they did for our country but also by our actions. We have come a long way but there is still work to do. When we fight injustice and work toward equality, we honor Rosa Park and Martin Luther King Jr. King fought against racism, poverty, and war. Only our actions against these evils say, “King, you did not die in vain.”

    Hi, Helen. When I was writing this post late last night, I thought about the awful challenge that Rosa Parks must have faced. Although I certainly know Rev. King did also, he at least had a platform and a certain following, although at the time he was very young…26, maybe…I can’t remember for sure.

    Rosa, although she was already politically active, was a seamstress–an ordinary citizen (at least we would look at her that way today, but I suppose she was not even considered ordinary on that fateful day.) Nevertheless, she said, “I’m not moving.” Amazing. A story not to be forgotten. May we all have the courage to defend what we believe to be right.

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  7. Today is a good day. As a matter of fact, last week was a good week. God has touched me and I am doing much better. Still believing Him for a miracle.

    Glad for the good day, Jolene. I just came back from your page where you spoke at length about your conversation with the doctor. I know you realize how blessed you are to have drawn a doctor with such faith in God.

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  8. Sis Buxton, I too, honor both of these people. Romans 13:7 reads; “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

    Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks both deserve tribute and honor for what they stood for and all that they achieved.

    Thank you, Jolene, in joining me today to honor these two courageous people. How are you feeling today? I’ve been praying for you.

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