Last week was Rosa Parks; birthday – February 4th to be exact. I saw countless pictures with quotes on social media about this and it reminded me of the time I discovered the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, in February of 2013.
I was in Montgomery for work and finished up a little earlier than expected, so decided to drive around and see what I could discover. I did a little google search and found the Rosa Parks Museum. I was so excited…I had no idea there was a Rosa Parks Museum! Oh the wonders of the internet and social media!!!
The museum is owned by Troy University in Montgomery. It was constructed on the site of the former Empire Theatre which is where Rosa Parks made her historic stand on December 1, 1955 at the bus stop in front of the theatre. She was 42 years old at the time. A seamstress who was just tired of how she and other people of color were being treated. Her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The museum opened in December of 2000 on the 45th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ “stand.” It depicts the historic events and the activities surrounding the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott. Mrs. Parks was even the guest of honor when Troy University dedicated the library and museum.
As I went wandering through the museum, I came across a temporary exhibit of Amos Kennedy posters. These posters displayed the words of Rosa Parks during this time frame. At the time I discovered the museum, I was experiencing some personal struggles in my life so when I saw the words of Rosa Parks in poster form on the walls of this exhibit, they really spoke to me. They gave me courage and the resolve to not let the situation I was in get the better of me. I mean, compared to everything that was going on in 1955 in Alabama…the situation I was facing seemed so miniscule. Perspective pretty much slapped me in the face as I walked through the museum and the exhibit.
And then I walked up to the bronze statue of Rosa Parks seated on the bus by Sculptor, Erik Blome. I stood and stared at her face for the longest time. The face of courage and character. The faces of resolve. The face that seemed at peace with the decision she had made that fateful day. It gave me courage and resolve the longer I stood there…the longer I stared at her face.
After standing at the statue, I decided to re-read Rosa Parks’ words on the posters. This time, they seemed to be speaking even more firmly at me.
And then I came upon her fingerprints…taken when she was arrested…along with her signature…
It was hard to leave the exhibit. I really felt at peace there and the longer I stayed, the better I felt. But eventually, I had to leave and I stood at the entrance, and once again I was drawn to Rosa Parks’ face in another sculpture. This one by Artis Lane – and this time I was drawn to her eyes in this sculpture. She seemed to be telling me everything was going to be okay. At least, that’s what I believe she was saying to me.
I didn’t go through the entire exhibit that day. I will save that for another day, but it was such a blessing discovering this place not so far from my home and learning more about Mrs. Parks.