Remembering Rosa

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

A silent but strong woman.

The Rev. Frederick Reese of Ebenezer Baptist Church will forever remember civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks this way.

Reese joined the front line on March 25, 1965, following Bloody Sunday to march from Selma to Montgomery alongside civil rights icons Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,, Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy.

He met Parks when she joined the marchers as they entered Montgomery. Although their meeting was short-lived, Parks left a lasting impression on Reese.

“She had a quiet demeanor,” he said. “But she exemplified concern for the struggle and rights of minorities. She chose to put herself on the line to put away acts of segregation.”

Selmians and others across the globe are celebrating and giving thanks for the life of Rosa Parks. Deemed the mother of the modern Civil Rights movement, Parks died of natural causes last week in Detroit, Mich. She was 92.

Her body lay in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, becoming the first woman to receive this honor usually reserved for presidents and war heroes. Alabamians had an opportunity to pay their respects to Parks as she lay in state at the St. Paul AME Church in Montgomery.

Parks will be buried today in her hometown of Detroit.

In downtown Selma, a black wreath has been placed on the front door of the National Voting Rights Museum to recognize the Tuskegee-born civil rights hero. Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955, eventually led to desegregation in the United States.

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. attended the memorial service for Parks at the St. Paul AME Church. Several key notable speakers were there, including actress Cicely Tyson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and Gov. Bob Riley.

Perkins said one common thread ran through each speaker when they stood to commemorate Parks.

“People consistently spoke of her gentle spirit and people consistently spoke of the power of her independent movement,” he said.

Perkins said the memorial service was both spiritual and political and had time to reflect on the great symbolism of Parks’ historical act.

“Oftentimes, we often wait for a group of people to change things. She was just one,” Perkins said. “She was certainly called for a place and a time and she answered her call.”