Anderson Chapel AME Church paid tribute to the life and legacy of Rosa Parks Thursday evening.
The memorial began at 7 p.m. as Cerrome Russell of Black On Black Rhyme greeted the audience. Russell, who is a comedian by trade, brought a lighter side to the program by focusing on Parks’ life instead of her death.
After the opening, those in attendance rose to their feet to join in the singing of the negro national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” followed by a scripture by the former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Rev. Bernyce Clausell.
Gheni Platenburg, 20, a junior journalism student from Houston, then took center stage to represent the Florida A&M University chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In the absence of the president of the chapter, Platenburg gave the occasion for the night as well as a personal account of how the actions of Parks have affected her.
After the occasion, the audience was treated to an a cappella version of “He Looked Beyond My Faults,” by Blanche Johnson, 20, a psychology student from Wildwood.
Charles Evans of the Tallahassee branch of NAACP gave the reflections for the night.
Evans made note of the strength of Parks even at her small size. He compared Parks to his mother who “raised six boys all over six feet, and was still a strong woman.”
Evans stressed the point that “when Parks sat down on the bus, she was not so much physically tired, but tired of the things that were happening to her as well as her race.”
Evans also said the struggle is far from over, using the problems in Florida’s educational system as an example.
“Out of all the states, Florida is last in high school graduation rate,” Evans said.
He closed his reflections by urging blacks to take a more active role in what happens to them like Parks did.
“People will sit down and do nothing. Rosa Parks sat down and did something,” he said.
The Rev. William Faust of Southern Christian Leadership then made his way to the podium to give his heartfelt reflections on Parks and the bus boycott that took place in Tallahassee in 1956.
Faust informed everyone in attendance that Tallahassee had its own “mothers of the civil rights movement” similar to Parks. He was referring to Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Peterson, whose actions sparked a boycott in Leon County.
After Faust gave his comments, the audience was once again treated to Johnson’s voice.
Chevarlyn Chaney, 19, a music education student from Miami, joined her. They sang “I Just Can’t Give up Now.”
The last speaker of the night was Minister Victer Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. He shared with the audience the reasoning behind having a memorial service for Parks.
“To familiarize the youth with the life of Rosa Parks, and to reacquaint the older generation with her legacy,” Muhammad said.
During his speech, Muhammad said through her entire life, there was never a negative thing said about Parks.
“If you look up lady in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Rosa Parks. She epitomized dignity,” Muhammad said.
He closed by giving the advice to not think of Parks as dead.
“As long as someone is still on your mind they are not dead. Rosa Parks is still alive because we’re talking about her right now,” Muhammad said.
Before the closing remarks and benediction, Chaney came to the front once again for the last song of the night, “To Everything There’s a Season.”
Pastor Charles A. Morris then gave the benediction to close the program.
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