“Rosa Parks’ moment of resistance against the policies of segregation in Montgomery, Ala., was the spark that lit the modern-day civil rights movement. Her December 1, 1955, arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a 381-day movement directed by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who prior to the action was relatively unknown outside of Montgomery.
“Rosa Parks was a great woman who was committed to uncovering wrong and doing right. She said her act of civil disobedience was simply a result of being tired of the unfair treatment of black Americans. Rosa Parks stated it was her faith in God that gave her the strength and courage to persevere in a culture that denied basic human rights to African Americans. Throughout her life, she demonstrated a quiet and dignified strength in standing for justice and equal rights for all Americans.
“She will be forever remembered as a pioneer in the struggle for civil rights. Her efforts, combined with those of many other Americans, black and white, led to full citizenship for millions of African Americans and began a needed transformation of our nation. It was the sacrifice of these Americans, such as Rosa Parks, that inspired me to conduct a tour of historic civil rights sites in Georgia and Alabama following the 1999 Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta.
“Mrs. Parks’ resistance to the unfair treatment of black Americans did not begin in 1955; she was put off a city bus in 1943 because she boarded that bus through the front door, not the back door where blacks were supposed to enter the vehicle. I am grateful for her indomitable spirit in the struggle for freedom and justice and for her unflagging dedication in calling our nation to close out the ugly era of racial segregation and to heed the biblical truth expressly stated in our nation’s Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. All Americans owe Mrs. Parks and other civil rights pioneers a great debt for their courage, standing against the evils of segregation and making it possible for us to live in a society committed to racial reconciliation and justice. ”
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.3 million members in 43,024 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.