rev._r._joaquin_willis.jpgFifty-one years ago, hundreds of Freedom Riders of every race, creed and color subconsciously heard God calling for change and they joined the “Freedom Rides.” God was calling then for change in the status quo, so, by riding various forms of Southern public transportation, they challenged local segregated laws and customs.

Subconsciously, initially God spoke to Moses through an unexpected experience, a burning bush, and when he saw it he went to investigate. “When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the [burning] bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’” (Exodus 3: 4) Today, God is subconsciously using another burning bush experience in the Occupy Wall Street movement, as He did in Exodus with Moses and in Alabama with the Freedom Riders. God is working subconsciously through our thoughts and experiences.

In a 1955 ruling in the case of Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was explicitly repudiated for allowing separate but equal interstate bus travel. But under the chairmanship of South Carolina Democrat J. Monroe Johnson, the ICC  failed for six years to enforce the ruling. 

On May 4, 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), under the leadership of James Farmer, started the Freedom Rides. They were meant to uphold the ideals of freedom in the Deep South. These peaceful Freedom Riders were initially met with brutal resistance. As they suffered, the conscience of America awakened and people of all races started to join in.

Ms. Pauline Knight-Ofosu, a Freedom Rider, has been quoted as saying,  “It was like a wave or a wind blowing. You didn’t know where it was coming from or where it was going. You just knew you were to be there. Nobody told me to or asked me. I just knew I had to be one of those people on the bus.”

Today, subconsciously, many hear God calling for economic justice throughout the world. Economic laws and policies are being created that demand fairness and justice for the poor but the privileged are fighting the change, seeking to maintain the status quo. But God, through the Occupy Movement, is slowly bringing about compliance.

Today, many congressional rulings go unheeded in banking and health care reform. In Exodus 3:7, God spoke to Moses from the burning bush: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt and I have heard them crying out because of the slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”  God still hears the cries of the poor and middle class, as we cry for jobs, living wages, the saving of families and homes, better health care and security in retirement.

On May 21, 1961, in the midst of the Freedom Rides, there was a historical intersection between Freedom Riders and the Civil Rights movement. From inside the First

Baptist Church of Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and that call created legitimacy for the Civil Rights movement.

As Dr. King strategized with the Riders and negotiated with Kennedy, the attorney general persuaded then Gov. John Patterson to bring in the Alabama National Guard for the safety of the protestors. That became the first time in American history that the government identified with the constitutional rights of the Civil Rights movement.      

For the safety of the Riders, the National Guard escorted them to the Mississippi state line. But, upon their crossing, Governor Ross Barnett, immediately had them arrested and they were sentenced to serve hard time. By summer’s end, 300 Freedom Riders were voluntarily arrested. Under mounting public pressure, on Nov. 1, 1961, the ICC issued an order putting the six-year old ICC ruling into effect, thereby ensuring racial justice.

Today, the Occupy Movement doesn’t seem successful.  Initiall­­y, neither were Moses’ efforts in Egypt but he kept trying. Today, God is still calling for justice and, through peaceful means, perhaps even the continued occupation of America’s financial districts, we too must keep trying. 

Moses subconsciously heard God calling and responded. The Freedom Riders subconsciously heard God calling and responded. If you subconsciously hear God calling, you too must respond.