"Rosa's Angels" by Martin Dunn – Oil on Panel
Image 36" x 24" – Framed 40" x 28 1/2"
This year my family and I visited the Rosa Parks Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. I got to sit in a replica of the bus;
and as I did I became aware of the courage it took for the timid seamstress to keep her seat that day in 1955.
I wept for her. I wanted to comfort her from 65 years in the future.
I wanted to show her how every person, white or black, has benefited from her actions.
The painting shows Rosa, waiting to board her fateful bus. She thinks she is alone.
She keeps eyes down, avoiding eye contact that might be interpreted as defiance.
She can’t see that she has angels on either side of her, both police officers of color, with her from the next century.
The white men standing behind her may be somewhat aware that she is protected.
They are behaving themselves. They may even realize that as of that day, their time is over.
The psalmist says that the wicked will vanish; vanish like smoke (Psalm 37:20).
One day you have the illusion of control, the next day you are gone. Once Rosa boarded that bus, everything changed.
The backdrop is the 16th St Baptist Church, also in Birmingham;
the site of a cowardly bombing in 1963 that killed four children and injured 17 others.
A reminder that hate doesn’t go down without a fight; but it does go down.
The mill of God may grind slowly, but it grinds exceedingly small.
The church is now a national monument. God is a righteous judge. God is indignant every day. I believe that.
'Rosa's Angels' has been selected into two national and international art exhibitions:
'Hindsight', hosted by Gallery 114, an artists' collective gallery in Portland, OR; and 'Race in America',
a national juried exhibition hosted by Drury University, Springfield, MO.