At the church that played a pivotal role in the emergence of Dr. Martin Luther King as a national leader of the civil rights movement, friends and government officials celebrated the life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
Mrs. Parks, called this week by her friend and President of the Montgomery Improvement Association Mrs. Johnnie Carr, the person "who lit the match that lit the fire" of the civil rights movement, died earlier in the week in Detroit, Michigan.
The service was moderated by the Reverend Andrew Dawkins and featured stories about the woman who "sat down and the world turned around" on the first of December, 1955.
Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley called Parks "a woman of not a high social stature but yet used to make such a mighty change." The lieutenant governor also said Parks was "the greatest model of life that has ever lived."
Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright says Parks "changed the world with a very simple action." The mayor compared Mrs. Parks to world leaders who have control of the world's weapons and power, saying the small woman from Tuskegee had none of their weapons but managed to bring about enormous change. "She did not raise one small finger. She did not say one harmful word about anyone. She did not offend a single person, but changed the world," remarked the Mayor.
Former ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young:
"Rosa Parks was inspiration not by any great speech, not by any powerful protest, but simply by the act of being who she was - a sweet and loving and simple child of God who refused to let anybody or anything force her to compromise her spirit."
Young also praised the work of all those who worked with King and Parks to spark a greater movement. Young said there had been other attempts at boycotts, but there was "something unique not only about Rosa Parks. There was something unique about the people of Montgomery."
Young went on to say the the boycott succeeded in Montgomery because "of the fact that they knew her, respected her, and understood that if she could not survive as humble and sweet as she was in a segregated society, no one else could survive."
Other speakers such as Representative Alvin Holmes spoke of the history of the times many may not have known. Mrs. Johnnie Carr and others reminded people that talk was not enough to bring about changes, but that action was required to make improvement in people's lives.
Two children's choirs sang during the ceremony, one from Carver Elementary and one from E.D. Nixon Elementary School.