February in the United States is Black History Month. In honor of that month, each day in February will feature an African-American saint from different periods of the Civil Rights Movements in America.
Jackie Robinson, 1919 – 1972
Rare is the baseball fan who doesn’t know the name Jackie Robinson. The pinnacle of athleticism, Robinson excelled in school playing baseball, basketball, football, tennis, and running track and field. Robinson gained a reputation in college for standing up to racism, and he continued to excel in sports until he was drafted into the Army during World War II. After he returned to baseball, playing in the Negro Leagues, he was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers and sent to the minors, where he encountered resistance to his presence on the team. When he was called up to play for the Dodgers in 1947, he became the first black player in major league baseball since 1880. He continued to encounter racial prejudice from his own team and their opponents, but his presence slowly broke down barriers and made strides for civil rights. After his retirement, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and his number, 42, was retired league-wide, the first number to be retired in this way. He continued to be an active and political voice in the civil rights movement until his death.
God of talents, you gave your servant Jackie Robinson strength to pursue his dream and strength in the face of discrimination and prejudice. Give us the same strength to confront injustice around us. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.
Sarah E. Gorham, 1832 – 1894
Little is known about Gorham’s early life, and although her birth year is known, there’s almost no record of her before 1880, when visited some of her family who had moved to Liberia. She spent a year there preaching and tending to the sick. This visit inspired her, and a few years after she returned to the United States, she volunteered to be a missionary in the African Methodist Episcopal Church at the age of 56. She was the first single woman to take this role and served at the Magbele mission in Sierra Leone. She established the Sarah Gorham Mission School to teach both religious and industrial education.
Calling God, you chose your servant Sarah E. Gorman as a missionary to Sierra Leone and moved her half-way across the world to serve. Move us and place us where you need us to be to be your light. In the name of your Son, we pray. Amen.