Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ordinary People and Extraordinary Lives

There is a gospel song called "Ordinary People." The song says God uses ordinary people, people like you, people like me. Today, we mourn the passing of one ordinary person, Rosa Parks.

Nearly fifty years ago, a tired woman took a seat on a city bus. Worn out after a full day's work, the law said she had to move to the back in order to give up her seat to a White man. Like anyone who is simply worn out, she said no. And she went to jail for it. That act is said to have been the spark for the modern civil rights movement.

Some have argued, in earnest (two Black women had been arrested for the same charge earlier that year) and in jest (see "Barbershop") that it wasn't as extraordinary as history has made it out to be. But, it was the boycott that followed that was extraordinary. For 381 days, Blacks, heavy users of the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to take the bus. Walking and carpooling took thousands of dollars away from the city, and took a match to Jim Crow laws. The Supreme Court's ruling that separate was not equal, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the dynamite.

The chorus to "Ordinary People" ends with:

Little becomes much when you place it in the Master's hand.

Many little acts added together become much. And, Mrs. Parks' little act, added to all the acts before, became one great act. Rest peacefully in the Master's hand, Mrs. Parks.


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