Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.

Rosa Parks

Rosa McCauley was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. At a young age, her parents separated and her mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama, outside of Montgomery. She grew up on her grandparents’ farm. As a young girl, Parks went to a one-room school house. At the age of 11, her mother enrolled her in Montgomery’s Industrial School for Girls. As she continued her education, Parks attended Alabama State Teacher’s College. In 1929, in the 11th grade, she left school to take care of her ailing grandmother and later her ill mother. In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber and a member of the NAACP. In 1933, she finished her high school degree. Parks became one of the first women in Montgomery to join the NAACP in 1943.

She served as a youth leader for the Montgomery chapter and became the secretary to the president, E.D. Nixon. She worked for him from 1943-1957. In this capacity, she was involved with the Scottsboro Boys case and investigated the gang-rape of Recy Taylor. She and her husband were both members of the Voter’s League in the 1940s.

Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and hopefully, we shall overcome.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white person. As a member of the NAACP, she knew this would create an opportunity to boycott the bus system in Montgomery and push for change. She was arrested, tried on December 5 and fined for her failure to obey the bus driver. This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a huge protest against the public transit system in Montgomery. After over a year, the Supreme Court ruled segregated buses unconstitutional and the boycott was ended. This was an early victory for the Civil Rights Movement.

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

The boycott unsurprisingly cost both Rosa and Raymond. They lost their jobs and moved to Detroit to find work and to live with family. Parks became secretary to U.S. Representative John Conyer in 1965. Throughout the 1960s, she remained active in the Civil Rights Movement by attending The March on Washington, the Selma to Montgomery March, and many more events. She also worked for equality in Detroit. Her husband died from cancer in 1977.

In 1987, Rosa Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. She also co-founded the Rosa Parks Scholarship Fund around the same time. She wrote her autobiography Rosa Parks: My Story and published it in 1992. She also wrote Quiet Strength, which focused on the role of her faith. Parks received many awards, including the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal. On October 24, 2005, Rosa Parks died at the age of 92 after a lifelong fight for justice and equality everywhere she went.

I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.