The Power of One

I hesitated between entitling this post “The Power of One” and “Quiet Strength”… both of which describe Rosa Parks well. I was recently exposed to her story in incredible detail and left the experience deeply moved.

Her Story

Portrait (top) by Susan Tusa

Portrait (top) by Susan Tusa

On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat to white people, boarding a bus in Montgomery Alabama’s then-segregated municipal bus system. Although the particular seat she was in did not technically have to be yielded to whites, according to city by-laws, the over-zealous bus driver either forgot or disregarded that detail in order to make an example out of Parks. He had her arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

The exchange between Parks, who practiced peaceful disobedience, and the driver, James Blake, went something like this:

Blake: “You gonna give up that seat?”
Parks: “No.”
Blake: “You better give me that seat.”
Parks: “No.”
Blake: “I’ll have you arrested.”
Parks: “You may do that.”

Parks’ quiet refusal and subsequent arrest sparked a year-long boycott of the bus system, by 50,000 African-Americans; causing the company to lose some $3,ooo / day. Her actions resulted in the US Supreme Court ordering full integration of the public transportation system. Thus began the modern civil rights movement.

There were other battles fought as part of the overall war on race-equality in the United States, but this was a major one.


Of course the name Rosa Parks was not unfamiliar to me, but I came away from this experience of the story deeply moved for the first time.

In the 1990s, while honoring her, Bill Clinton referred to Mrs. Parks, who was sitting in the audience with then first-lady Hillary Clinton and he said something to the effect (as everyone around her was rising to give her a standing ovation)

“Mrs. Parks may stand OR remain seated… as is her good pleasure.”

When I heard this, it took me several minutes to regain my composure.

What is the Power of One?

It is the power of one decision, made by one individual… the result of which is neither known at the time nor guaranteed to be favorable. It is a belief that the possible (though not guaranteed) outcome is worth the risk.

Though she new it would have ramifications, she probably didn’t realize just how far those ramifications would be felt and how many people they would impact. At the very least, it affected the 50,000 people who spent a year boycotting the Montgomery bus system… but we know it went further than that.

What about you… what about me?

Is it possible for us to make such a difference?

Is it possible for us to experience the power of one?

I hope so. I believe so. This is why I serve the Lord and seek to become more like Him… because, at the very least, the repercussions of that daily choice, will impact the four other lives with which I spend the most time… my family. Beyond that I desire to have this daily choice impact future generations in France.

  • Because John & Anne Nowacki chose to plant a church in Melun, France… some 400+ people worship God there each Sunday and communities around the nation are hearing the gospel as well.
  • Because Paul & Darla Brochu chose to establish a church in Châtellerault, western France back in 2000 there is an incredibly firm foundation and infrastructure upon which to watch the Lord take the next step in impacting a region.

Thank you, Lord, that we have the opportunity to be part of that next step!

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One response

  1. Pingback: Montgomery AL, Birthplace of US Civil Rights « AIM Long

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