“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” (Mark 6: 1-6)
This summer marks the 60th anniversary of one of the milestones of the Civil Rights Movement: the Freedom Riders.
In 1960, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated bathrooms, waiting rooms and lunch counters were unconstitutional and that enforcing segregation laws on interstate buses and trains was also unconstitutional. A group of 13 civil rights activists — seven Black and six white men and women of various ages from the across the United States — decided to test the new rulings.
In May 1961, they boarded a Greyhound bus in Washington, D.C., and headed to New Orleans. Before embarking on this dangerous journey, the volunteers were trained in nonviolence tactics. Those who could not refrain from striking back when pushed, hit, spit on or doused with liquids while racial epithets rang in their ears were not allowed to make the trip. At every stop in the Jim Crowe South, the Black travelers would attempt to make use of the whites-only facilities — restrooms, restaurants, waiting areas — that the law entitled them to use. They became known as the “Freedom Riders.”
The late Congressman John Lewis was one of the first Freedom Riders. The son of sharecroppers, Lewis was a 21-year-old seminary student when he boarded the bus. Five days into the trip, Lewis was viciously beaten when he attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. Lewis refused treatment until he was served a cup of coffee in the now-integrated station diner. A few days later, their bus was surround by an angry mob in Anniston, Alabama. The white mob burned the bus and Ku Klux Klansmen brutally beat the Freedom Riders.
A second bus went on to Birmingham, Alabama. That bus was firebombed and the riders attacked by a crowd wielding metal pipes. The photographs of the burning bus and the bloodied riders were published in newspapers across the country, drawing international attention to the Freedom Riders’ cause and the tense state of race relations in the United States.
A third bus of Freedom Riders departed Montgomery, Alabama, for Jackson, Mississippi. Despite warnings from federal officials, the Freedom Riders continued on to Jackson where they were arrested and convicted of “breaching of the peace.” The convictions were later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Freedom Riders continued through the fall of 1961. More than 400 brave volunteers traveled as Freedom Riders throughout the American South.
John Lewis went on to become a leader in the Civil Rights Movement — and would be jailed several more times. At the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Lewis was beaten so badly he almost died. In 1986, Lewis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Atlanta. He held that seat until his death in 2020 at the age of 80.
In John Meacham’s new book His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope, Lewis remembers his Freedom Riders experience:
”It was like we had been called or chosen to bring justice to the world. We didn’t have a choice — we had been ordained by God Almighty to do this work. It was the right place to be at that time — to redeem the larger society.”
The brave men and women who boarded those buses 60 years ago were prophets: the Freedom Riders put their lives in danger to witness God’s justice and secure the dignity and respect for Americans of every color and creed. A true prophet is an agent of integrity, an illuminator of the light of truth in every arena, the conscience of his or her people — no matter what is required of the prophet in giving his or her witness, even to the point of being rejected, persecuted or ridiculed. In Baptism, God calls us to be his witnesses, his “prophets” in the spirit of Jesus, to proclaim God’s word with the dedication of the Freedom Riders. The work of the prophet requires of us a faith that never falters in the conviction that the justice of God will triumph over injustice, that God’s mercy will triumph over hatred, that God’s light will triumph over the darkness of sin and death.
BEGINNING THIS WEEKEND—
The 8:00am and the 11:00am Masses return to our regular mass schedule in the church. This date marks one year since Seton opened for public Masses since the start of the pandemic!
Bulletins will be available to take with you after Mass. You can continue to access them here on our parish website. Please take a look to learn about more happening at our church.
The Presider will provide the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to those who will be having an upcoming medical procedure or surgery. Just inform the Usher and the Priest will meet you at the baptism font after he greets parishioners.
I would like to offer an opportunity for married couples celebrating anniversaries to renew the wedding vows. This short ritual would take place after the homily. Call the Parish Office to schedule!
Finally, we will go back to praying our Vocation Prayer near the conclusion of Mass as we ask God to provide vocations to the priesthood, religious life, diaconate and lay ministries.
ELEMENTS OF THE CATHOLIC MASS VIDEO SERIES:
We are beginning week 24 of our video series, Elements of the Catholic Mass. I would invite you to watch Episode 24 this week titled, The Creed and reflect on how this might help you in your faith. Here is the link to the episodes page.
Here is this Sunday’s Worship Aid
Don’t forget to use hand sanitizers in the Narthex and now, when you enter the church at the Food Pantry entrance.
As usual, we will continue to live-stream Mass (Mon—Thurs at 9:00am and Sunday at 9:30am) on the parish Facebook (link) and uploaded on YouTube (link), and our parish website, https://www.seaseton.org/Resources/Media. If you do not have Facebook but wish to watch our livestream, click here for instructions.