'I'd like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free'

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a largely empty bus in Montgomery, Ala. after a long day at work as a seamstress. She walked by several rows of seats marked “Whites Only” and settled into a row in the middle of the bus where she was allowed to sit as long as no white person was standing. 

Several stops later, the bus filled and more white people boarded. The bus driver ordered the people in Rosa’s row to move to make room for the newcomers. None of them moved. The bus drivers ordered them to move a second time, and they all moved – except Rosa. 

She was arrested. Then she was fired from her job. For years afterward, she received death threats. 

Rosa’s decision and the events that followed became critical symbols of the Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She was even called “the first lady of civil rights” as she continued fighting for equality. 

Five decades later, Rosa was asked to reflect upon her life. Her response was simple: 

"I'd like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free and wanted other people to be also free." 

On Independence Day, we celebrate our freedom – our freedom as a nation and our individual freedom within the country. We remember the sacrifices of others and declare with one voice our independence. 

The fight for freedom continues today. For many of the people Buckner serves, the fight is a personal one. They have suffered under the restrictions of unhealthy relationships or the confines of poverty. 

As Christ-followers, we are called to point people to true freedom, which is found in Christ. It is in a relationship with him that we experience true liberty and nothing less. Let us live out Christ’s words in Luke 4: 

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. –Luke 4:18-19 

Deeper reflection:

  • How can we point other people to freedom? 
  • Who do you know who is fighting for their freedom today? 
  • What does it mean today to “set the oppressed free?”

Next steps:

  • This Independence Day, share with someone what freedom in Christ means.

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