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Singing hymns with Rev. Garland Ray Hall of St. Stephen’s AME Church. The sermon is a bit short, as there were seven preachers that night.
On December 5, 1955 at the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama a gathering of the Montgomery Improvement Association was held. There were so many folks in attendance that the church would not hold them all and several hundred were out on the lawn. They brought in speakers and wired them up so that all in attendance could hear. One who was in attendance was Mrs. Rosa Louise Parks, who had been arrested just four days prior for having the audacity to sit in the wrong seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.
At the meeting, Dr. King was the keynote speaker. He began: “My friends, we are certainly very happy to see each of you out this evening. We are here this evening for serious business. We are here in a general sense because first and foremost we are American citizens, and we are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its meaning.”
Dr. King later confessed that he normally spent about fifteen hours writing his sermons, but with all the events surrounding those days he only had 20 minutes to prepare what he classified as “the most decisive speech of my life.” He spent the first five minutes worrying and then wisely turned to prayer for guidance. According to Mrs. Parks, Dr. King’s prayer was answered.
Mrs. Parks writes, “As he concluded [that sermon], he said the words that I will never forget, the prophetic words that, for me, still define the character of our nonviolent freedom movement: ‘When the history books are written in the future, somebody will have to say, ‘There lived a race of people, a black people, fleecy locks and black complexion, a people who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and of civilization.’’”
Following that day Mrs. Parks said, “As the weeks and months wore on, it became clear to me that we had found our Moses, and he would surely lead us to the promised land of liberty and justice for all.”
Fifty years ago this the year, Dr. King was assassinated, but he is still leading this great movement. My prayer is that we will soon reach that promised land of liberty and justice for all so that Dr. King and all the others will be able to rest their weary legs from such a long and arduous march. A march that has taken far too long, but one, through our gathering tonight, has drawn one more step closer to it’s glorious conclusion.
Let us pray: Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.