Hero #1 in the Great Emergence HEROES 101 course is Rosa Parks.
When I write about taking a stand, speaking the truth, sticking your
neck out for what's right when all seems lost---who else is there to
take the #1 spot of Heroes in the Emergence as our most prime example
of actions to emulate? Grace, courage beyond comprehension, dignity
with attitude! That's Rosa.
I always point to Rosa when I tell my children that ONE person indeed
CAN make a difference. And create a sea of change for the better.
We'll miss you Rosa. We need more Rosa's here to help get us across
the chasm. You define the word HERO. And heaven just got a lot brighter.
DETROIT - A church packed with 4,000 mourners celebrated the life of Rosa Parks Wednesday in an impassioned, song-filled funeral, with a crowd of notables giving thanks for the humble woman whose dignity and defiance helped transform a nation.
"The woman we honored today held no public office, she wasn't a wealthy woman, didn't appear in the society pages," said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. "And yet when the history of this country is written, it is this small, quiet woman whose name will be remembered long after the names of senators and presidents have been forgotten."
The funeral, which stretched well past its three-hour scheduled time, followed a week of remembrances during which Parks' coffin was brought from Detroit, where she died Oct. 24; to Montgomery, Ala., where she sparked the civil rights movement 50 years ago by refusing to give her bus seat to a white man; to Washington, where she became the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.
Those in the audience held hands and sang the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome" as family members filed past her casket before it was closed.
"Mother Parks, take your rest. You have certainly earned it," said Bishop Charles Ellis III of Greater Grace Temple, who led the service.
Speakers described Parks, who died at 92, as both a warrior and a woman of peace who never stopped working toward a future of racial equality.
"The world knows of Rosa Parks because of a single, simple act of dignity and courage that struck a lethal blow to the foundations of legal bigotry," said former
President Clinton who presented Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, not yet born when Parks took her famous stand, was one of many who attributed their success to the doors Parks opened.
"Thank you for sacrificing for us," he said. "Thank you for praying when we were too cool and too cute to pray for ourselves. ... Thank you for allowing us to step on your mighty shoulders."
Singers included Aretha Franklin and mezzo-soprano Brenda Jackson, who sang a soaring version of the Lord's Prayer.
Members of Congress and national civil rights leaders filled the pews. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke, as did former presidential candidate
Long before the funeral, the line to get one of the 2,000 available public seats at the church extended for blocks.
Tammi Swanigan waited for hours without getting a seat, but the 28-year-old Detroit resident wasn't complaining.
"I think just being here, it was really nice to see all the people come out to pay their respects," she said.
Parks was a 42-year-old tailor's assistant at a Montgomery department store in December 1955 when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus. Her act triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Parks and her husband, Raymond, moved to Detroit in 1957, after they lost their jobs and faced harassment and death threats in Montgomery. She is to be entombed in a mausoleum, along with the bodies of her husband and mother