On God’s refrigerator
Melba Pattillo Beals was one of the ‘Little Rock Nine’ – the first group of black students to integrate into Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas, in 1957. The students faced violence and were escorted by paratroopers. Here, she recalls how her grandmother taught her to trust in God, despite everything.
Grandma India always said that all human beings need something bigger and more powerful than themselves to believe in. It is best when we choose God, a specific and certain choice, whom we can trust to be our life companion. ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you know you are always safe. Even when you find yourself falling off the highest mountain, don’t panic! Take stock to see what you can do to help yourself. If the answer is nothing, relax and enjoy the scenery, knowing that no matter how great the danger appears, you are safe in God’s arms.’
Growing up in the 1940s and 50s in Little Rock, Arkansas, I needed a powerful God, and every drop of faith I could muster and sustain, to hope that one day I would be free of the imprisoning bars of racial segregation. I longed to be free to go to the school of my choice, to sit in the front of the bus, to drink from the nearest water fountains not marked coloured, to ride on the city park merry-go-round, and to walk the sidewalks downtown without being called ugly names. I longed to touch merchandise in stores without fearing someone would cut my hand off.
Grandma India said faith is the consistent trust that God is all powerful and always on your side if you need help. Throughout her life, she was a member of the Methodist church where I was baptised as a baby. She insisted that I remain respectful of all people and their methods of worshiping their God as I cling to my commitment to my God and Jesus Christ, the Son of God…
This is an extract from an article that was published in the November 2018 edition of Reform