To Make A Difference
Henrietta Jolly Coleman
Treasurer Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative
Us Honor Rosa Parks by Nurturing Freedom
Two-thousand five presented
many events that will be remembered by all Americans as significantly
historic: The large number of devastating hurricanes, the continuing wars in
, and a burgeoning federal deficit. We are concerned with Social Security
and health-care reforms, changes in the educational system (the Standards of
Learning and No Child Left Behind), the costs of fuel, loss of jobs and
pension benefits — the list goes on and on!
The events reported on the
evening news and in daily newspapers can make us shake our heads and wonder
what is going to happen next. We face the daily challenges of raising a
family, earning a living, and dealing with personal issues, all of which can
bring on anxiety. Those of us who have faith know that there is a remedy. We
understand to be “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let [our] requests be made known, and the
peace of [our] Creator which surpasses all understanding will guard [our]
hearts and minds.”
It is my belief that no
other event of the year will be more remembered than the passing of the
mother of the civil rights movement, Mrs. Rosa Louise McCauley Parks. Mrs.
Parks died on October 24, 2005, at the age of 92. It has been 50 years since
Mrs. Parks first made history. In 1955, the 42-year-old seamstress and NAACP
activist declined to give up her seat on a public bus in
When she refused to go to the back of the bus that cold December afternoon,
she spoke for all Americans in defiance of a system of racial oppression
that every day robbed them of their citizenship and dignity.
Others have been admired
for their leadership, charisma, and bravery; however, Mrs. Parks inspired
widespread reverence for her quiet strength and understated grace. Her
courage changed the course of American history.
Tens of thousands paid
their respects as she laid in honor at St. Paul AME Church in
, in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, (where she was the first woman and second
African American to do so); and the Charles H. Wright Museum of
African-American History in
A marathon of speakers offered remarks about her impact on the nation and
people. It seemed fitting that in death, just as in life, Mrs. Parks would
be the one to bring the nation’s people together.
Mrs. Parks showed courage
and determination in taking a stand for what she believed was right. Her act
of bravery has made a difference. Probably not even realizing the impact it
would have on her fellow man, she made a decision with far-reaching effects.
Opportunities and doors have been opened because of her.
At Mrs. Parks’ memorial
service, Oprah Winfrey, famous talk-show host, and
secretary of state, gave her credit for their successes and the positions
they hold today. Elaine Jones, the first female director counsel of the
NAACP Legal Defense Educational Fund, Inc., also credited her and thanked
her for the sacrifice she made that gave Jones the opportunity to serve in a
capacity that gives assistance to those in need of legal counsel in our
nation. There are countless others who have expressed their thanks to a
wonderful lady who cared and proved her love for all.
There are numerous
individuals who have given and still give their talents to support the cause
of peace and freedom! Some have made great contributions and will never
receive the notoriety that Mrs. Parks received, but have the satisfaction
that they have followed their hearts and have made a difference. Positive
living is a key to enjoying a peaceful, healthy life. When we serve, we find
joy and that becomes our reward — knowing that we have demonstrated love
and have helped someone to enjoy a better life. The struggle continues. We
must dedicate our lives to causes that will enrich the lives of others. We
must be mentors for our youth, volunteer as tutors, and by example,
encourage them to participate in the democratic process. We must set lofty
examples for them, for we realize that they are our future leaders.
We mourned Mrs. Parks; we
applauded her — people from all walks of life — the rich, the
not-so-rich, the famous, and the not-so-famous. But have we asked ourselves
what can we do to honor her legacy? Mrs. Parks has done her part to make the
world a better place. Her courage and humility inspired thousands to say,
“If she can do it, then surely so can I.” It is our time to make a
difference. We can stop ruining today by worrying about yesterday or
tomorrow, and say: “This is the day the Lord has made. I choose to rejoice
and be glad in it. I am going to make a difference. I am going to be a
servant to my fellow man and to the world.”
Like Mrs. Parks, we must
nurture the seed of freedom. Her life and her death call us to the task of
continuing the unfinished freedom movement and ensuring that she did not
live, and struggle, in vain.