Bea Forniss, director of REAP for the State of Alabama, served as the keynote speaker during Saturday's Prayer Breakfast honoring the late Rosa Parks.

Prayer Breakfast honors Rosa Parks

Published 2:48pm Sunday, February 5, 2012

Atmore area residents, community leaders ad visitors gathered together Saturday morning at Atmore Family Life Center for the fifth annual Prayer Breakfast honoring the late Rosa Parks.

This year’s breakfast fell on the birthday of the woman now known as “the mother of the modern day civil rights movement,” and a steady stream of attendees flowed into the center to honor her memory and the achievements she attained during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Coordinated by AFLC director Lillie Johnson, Saturday’s breakfast began with a welcome from Escambia County Board of Education Chairman Willie J. Grissett.

“It’s no secret that Mrs. Parks did not have the chance to be welcomed when she was ordered to give up her seat to a white passenger on that Montgomery, Alabama bus,” Grissett said as he spoke of Parks’ most famous civil rights stand.

Flomaton Elementary teacher Kimberly Byrd also referenced Parks now famous refusal to give up her bus seat as she delivered Saturday’s occasion.

“Because she chose to sit those many, many, many years ago, today we are able to stand,” she said.

Following a breakfast served by caterers Tommy Thomas, Doris Knight, Shelia Johnson, Janice Reynolds and Vonda Bynum the crowd was introduced to the keynote speaker, Director of the Governor’s Resource Assistance Programs for the State of Alabama Bea Forniss.

“We’re all here today because of Rosa Parks,” Forniss told the crowd. “It wasn’t just that her feet were tired that day (on the bus). A whole nation was tired that day.”

Forniss focused on the importance of working, not only for others, but also for the betterment of the community as a whole and stressed Parks’ faith in religion as a key source of her strength.

“Rosa parks was driven by God to do what she did when she did it,” Forniss said. “She will be remembered as a icon that woke up a nation and galvanized a movement.”

Remaining with the theme of community service, Saturday’s program ended with the presentation of awards by Wiley Tait. The Rosa Parks Award for 2012 was given to Dr. Ullysses McBride while Atmore Mayor Howard Shell was awarded for his service to the community, including his 22 years in office as the city’s mayor.

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