Sankofa Surprise: Team Joins King Memorial Service

Post a Comment » Written on February 16th, 2006     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (February 16, 2006) – Participants in past Sankofa journeys have usually shared how life-changing the racial righteousness trip was to them, but 18 of the most recent travelers had an experience that went beyond anything they could have anticipated.

They were privileged to attend a memorial service for Coretta Scott King, wife of revered civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It was unbelievable,” says Adrienne Reedy, who was one of the last people to fit into the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King served as pastor. “To be a part of that in my lifetime, I just couldn’t believe it.”

Edmund Pettus Bridge Forty-six women ranging in ages from 25-72 made the journey that began Friday, February 3, and concluded the following Monday evening.

The entire group had gone to the church after hearing at a previous stop that they would be able to pay their respects at the church. When they arrived, however, the memorial service was just getting under way. Not everyone realized what was happening until after the doors were closed and some were not able to be admitted.

The women’s arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the service and all of the platform speakers were women. As the speakers remembered Coretta Scott King, they brought the civil rights movement alive for the Sankofa participants.

At previous stops along the trip, the Sankofa women had seen videos or heard stories about many of the women who were speaking from the platform. “Then to be in their midst was really amazing,” says Reedy, a gospel singer who has performed at several national Evangelical Covenant Church gatherings.

One of the women was Sheyann Webb-Christburg, who had walked with King in 1965 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, when she was only eight years old. The day would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” a day when law enforcement officials brutally attacked the marchers. The day also encouraged her to pursue her life of work in the civil rights movement.

The Sankofa women had walked across that same bridge (see accompanying photo) just two days before the memorial service and visited a small memorial park created by women civil rights leaders. Ruth Hill, executive minister of Women Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church, says she was amazed to find a board that had broken from a sign at the park that read “looking back to move forward,” which is the meaning of the word Sankofa.

In “looking back to move forward,” trip participants also traveled through Birmingham, Alabama, and Albany, Georgia. In Albany, they met with Sandra Mansfield, who marched with King when she was 11 years old after begging her parents for the opportunity. She told her story of being caught up in a bloody fight, arrested and jailed for 45 days without anyone knowing where she was. The bus drove by the small concrete building where she was incarcerated.

To learn more about the Covenant’s Sankofa journeys, please visit Sankofa. To read online news stories of other Sankofa journeys, please select from the following:

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