Mrs. Jefferson’s Interview
Growing up in a neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama during the 50s and early 60s, Mrs. Jefferson said, “We never wanted for anything.” This is an example of God being Jehovah Jireh, which means God will provide. He allowed a young Patricia Jefferson to feel safe in her environment and allowed her to have everything she needed as a child. Yet, there was a definite hunger for change in her community. Segregation divided the city of Birmingham, Alabama, and seeds of discord continued to be sown amongst black and white brothers and sisters in Christ because black people were treated like second-class citizens. For example, “Black people could shop in local stores; however, they could not use the fitting rooms. They could order food from a restaurant; however, they couldn’t eat at the lunch counters.” Mrs. Jefferson recalled.
Her Eyes Were Opened
While she’d always been curious about these rules, 1963 was the year she realized why she’d been treated differently her whole life. “It was a pivotal time for the Civil Rights Movement. It was also a turning for the worst in my life. It was the year my eyes were opened to the real reason for the differences I experienced growing up. This was the time I allowed the anger and the hatred to enter my heart.” She admitted. Wait! I don’t want you to miss that. She said, “allowed.” This is a reminder that hatred is a choice. Of course, some people could argue that her feelings were justified. If you listened to the interview, you know she went through a lot. To recap her experience, let’s discuss a few incidences that occurred.
May 1963, African American students in Birmingham, Alabama were asked to join the fight against segregation. They held assembles to instruct them on how to conduct themselves during a nonviolent protest. “If the police grabbed us, we were told to drop to our knees and pray.” Mrs. Jefferson recalled. While she wanted to join her classmates, her parents would not allow her. Not only did they fear for her life, they had orders from their Bishop not to allow the children in their congregation to attend the marches. Therefore, she was forced to watch the marches on television. She saw firemen and police officers using high pressure fire hoses and police officers using attack dogs to control a nonviolent protest that included her classmates, and it was extremely upsetting. It opened the door for anger and hatred to enter her heart.
Because of the number of bombings in Birmingham, they nicknamed it “Bombingham.” Patricia Jefferson and her sister went to the Gaston Motel in order to pick up a protester that worked for her father. “We were about a block away from the motel when we stopped at a red light. Then, the car started to shake. We heard a boom! It was so loud and forceful that it shook our car as we were sitting there waiting for the red light. They’d bombed the lobby of the motel and we’d just picked her up.” On September 15, 1963, Klu Klux Klan members bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four young girls. Two were Patricia Jefferson’s former classmates. “That really devastated me.” She remembered.
Soul Searching Reflection
Listening to Mrs. Jefferson’s accounts of 1963, this scripture came to my mind. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). Jesus said those very words to his disciples as he prepared them for his return to heaven.
According to the Blue Letter Bible, the word trouble is associated with the words afflicted, affliction, or tribulation. “To suffer affliction or to be troubled,” has reference to sufferings because of the pressure of circumstances, or the antagonism of persons” (Blue Letter Bible). The Oxford Language Dictionary defines the word trouble as “difficulty or problems,” “public unrest or disorder,” or to cause distress or anxiety.” As I meditated on the word trouble, these thoughts came to my mind: “When we downplay trouble, we downplay the overcoming.” I am thankful for Mrs. Jefferson because she didn’t downplay the trouble she faced in 1963. As we took a trip down memory lane, she talked about the police officers who used high pressure fire hoses and attack dogs against school-aged children. She talked about a bomb that was set in a local motel. A bomb that shook their car and could have injured an employee of her father if she hadn’t been there to pick her up minutes before. These incidents caused hate to enter his heart, but this is not the end of her story. Satan does not get the glory! Jesus is love and love covers a multitude of sins… and that includes racism. Stay Tuned! Part 3: Change is in the Eye of the Beholder will be released soon.
Soul Searching Discussion Question
“1963 was a pivotal time for the Civil Rights Movement. It was also a turning for the worst in my life. It was the year my eyes were opened to the real reason for the differences I experienced growing up. This was the time I allowed the anger and the hatred to enter my heart.” Mrs. Patricia Jefferson admitted. Can you think of a time in your life when you allowed anger and hatred to enter your heart? Did you feel justified? Looking back, have your feelings changed? How long did it take you to change? If you still feel anger or hatred, please consider asking a supportive group of believers to come alongside you and pray for inner peace and healing.