[Editor’s note: The following is an edited transcript of the remarks delivered by Minister Farrakhan during the funeral of Mother Rosa Parks held at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan on November 2, 2005.]
Click here for webcast of Minister Farrakhan's comments
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
I greet all of you and wish you peace. The only way we can arrive at peace is to know God’s Will and submit to His Will. When we enter into peace with God, it is easier then to find peace with our fellow man. I came today, not only because I was invited. I did not know Mother Rosa Parks as the members of the family and many of these civil rights giants who are here today, but I know Mother Rosa from the inside out, not necessarily from the outside in.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, but learn of me.” We learn a lot about people, but too few of us learn of. The preposition “of” means that you learn the spirit that motivates a person to say and do what they do. The Bible teaches that we should discern the spirit. I did not know Mother Rosa, but I know her spirit—a quiet, unassuming, humble and beautiful woman who would be, I would say, shocked at the memorial demonstrations in Montgomery, Ala.; in Washington, D.C. and here today, because this was not what she was about. She was not about being a big shot. She was not about being seen. She did not seek the limelight. She was just doing what she does.
That is the way it was with Moses when he got the call from God. That is the way it was with Abraham when God visited him in the Plains of Mamre. That is the way it was with David when he was feeding the sheep, while Samuel came to the house of his father to find one to anoint.
Rosa Parks was chosen from the womb of her mother to do something that would make a change. I like to think of her as a disciple of Christ. You may ask, “Farrakhan, what do you know about being a disciple of Christ?” In the presence of our mother, I would like to say that too many of us know his name. Many of us praise his name, but too few of us are willing to be his disciples. Rosa Parks was a disciple of Christ and, therefore, we cannot celebrate death, because there is no death for those who die in the Lord, as the scripture teaches.
Jesus said, “If any man would be my disciple…” He did not say you had to go to church every Sunday. He did not say you had to sing in the choir. He did not even say you had to be baptized. He said, “If any man,” and I guess that does include me. “If any man would be my disciple, he must first, deny himself.” Second, he must “pick up his cross” and third, “follow me.” So many of us are unwilling to deny ourselves comfort, pleasure, a safe place, or a seat at a table of acceptability. So, we go along to get along—but not Mother Rosa.
The City of Detroit paid a moving bus tribute to Rosa Parks, with nearly a dozen buses, through the streets of the city. My Sister and the Mother of this Movement sat down that we might stand. Her spirit was a spirit of defiance against an unjust law and an unjust social order. We cannot honor her legacy with song and speech. President Bill Clinton said, ?She made America better.? But she did not make America good. Better is not good. There is a long way to go before America can be ?Good America? and a really, truly ?Great America.?
She denied herself comfort. She denied herself what most people are afraid to deny: that which threatens their security. Then, after denying herself, she picked up a cross; not a cross that you wear in your ear or around your neck, that says you are what you may not be, but a cross that represents rejection; being evil spoken of; being falsely accused and brought before courts of law on unjust charges. That is a cross that she bore, that triggered a movement that gave birth to Martin Luther King Jr. and all of those who walked with him; that gave birth to my Brother, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Joseph Lowery and all of these civil rights leaders who sit here.
But there is a problem. The problem is that we denied ourselves for a moment, and then compromised ourselves in the next moment, because the cross-bearing became too heavy. My appeal in her name is that the church becomes the Church; that the church never sells its soul to be a friend of those who are not the friend of those for whom she sat down, that we might stand up for. The church must not dirty its garment, so that when the bridegroom comes, the bride cannot go to the altar because her garment is unclean.
To be a disciple does not carry a name, like Christian, Muslim or Jew. These are names that separate the family of God, that keep the children of Abraham fighting each other. To become a disciple is to act on principles, deny self, do not worry about self, and think about something bigger than self. Jesus said, “Peter, give up your net and I will make you a fisher of men.” This means to give up your false life in the name of Christ, and then take up your cross and follow in his footsteps.
My Sister and the Mother of this Movement sat down that we might stand. Her spirit was a spirit of defiance against an unjust law and an unjust social order. We cannot honor her legacy with song and speech. President Bill Clinton said, “She made America better.” But she did not make America good. Better is not good. There is a long way to go before America can be “Good America” and a really, truly “Great America.” As long as there are children dying from poverty in the streets of America, we need to be defiant. We need to pick up a cross. We need to follow Christ.
I pray that we will be defiant against religious hypocrisy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I pray that, in the spirit of defiance that made her sit down and say, “Enough is enough,” we will be defiant enough about religious hypocrisy in the name of Christ, in the name of Muhammad, in the name of Moses and the prophets, because slaughter is going on in the name of holy men. We need to stand up against religious hypocrisy and become defiant against it. We need to defy a political system that pays lip service to the poor and crushes them. We need to be defiant against a military industrial complex that is sucking the life-blood out of this nation—where, in order to balance the budget, there is no compassion for the weak, poor, elderly and young.
I understand the message, Mother Rosa. As long as I live, I am going to strive, not to be a Muslim in name, a Christian in name, or a Jew in name, but I want to be counted with the disciples. God knows I have forsaken self. God knows I have picked up a cross. God knows I am walking in the footsteps of the Master. If I was not, then I would be loved by those who hated Christ.
I thank you, family. I thank you for allowing me these moments. My pledge, my words of resolution, is that I want to die stronger than when I started. It would be a tragedy for us to get old and then compromise what we have lived our life for. Die in the faith. Die on your cross. Die in the name of the Lord. Thank you.
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