Tribute to History Makers

This is who inspires me:

Shirley Alexander
Shirley is a retired educator in Indianapolis where her husband, Frank, served as director of the Edna Martin Christian Center, then as Senior Pastor of Oasis of Hope Baptist Church. Shirley serves as Multicultural Ministries Strategist for the American Baptist Churches of Greater Indianapolis. She inspires me because she is passionate for racial inclusion and justice. Shirley doesn’t hide that passion and she has a spirit of love and grace that invites others to listen deeply with her and join her on the journey. Shirley doesn’t “make nice” about life, rather, she faces reality head-on with a faith grounded in the transformational love of Christ. She carried that passion as an educator and she continues to carry it today as she works to help a diverse region of American Baptists learn how to listen and work together for the good of God’s love in a hurting world.

— Judy Fackenthal, Indianapolis, IN

 Sarah Goodson.
Sarah was born on a share-croppers farm in the low country of South Carolina around 1920. She got her education, moved to New York City, and eventually went on to get her nursing degree and become the head of the AIDS unit at Bellevue Hospital during the height of the AIDS crisis. She was a member of our church, Madison Avenue Baptist (NYC) until she died in 2005. Sarah was dearly loved by our community and her legacy continues to inspire us to this day.

— Susan Sparks, pastor Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York


Maude Ballou
Maude was personal secretary to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a working mother myself, I can imagine some of the hardships she and her family faced as she took on the enormous task of being Dr. King’s secretary while family responsibilities loomed large. Maude had studied business and literature in college and was program director of the first black radio station in Montgomery, Ala., when she was approached for the job. It didn’t take long before she was his right-hand woman during some of the most tumultuous years of the Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the publication of King’s first book, “Stride Towards Freedom,” and the Pilgrimage for Peace in Washington, D.C. She also was placed in enormous danger. In 1957 she was listed number 21 on the Montgomery Improvement Association’s list of persons and churches most vulnerable to violent attacks (MLK was #1). Her children’s lives were threatened and KKK members watched her work through the windows of the church, but Maude just kept on working. Can you imagine how difficult that must have been? How many of us would have continued in the face of such challenges?

— Lindsay Bergstrom, Jacksonville, FL

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