James Reeb was born on January 1, 1927 in Wichita, Kansas. He was a Unitarian minister who was very active in the fight for civil rights in the 1960s. Rev. James Reeb is my hero.
I believe that a hero is an individual who does something to positively influence the world. A hero is passionate and honest about what he/she does and always puts the needs of others in front of his/her own. Heroes do not take the easy routes in life. They stay committed to what they know to be true, no matter what obstacles they may face.
Rev. James Reeb fits my definition of a hero in many ways. Reeb was a white man living during the African American civil rights movement. Because of the color of his skin, James Reeb could have chosen to perpetuate his white supremacy by not speaking out against the injustices of that time. Rev. Reeb did not take the easy route.
The murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson gave the civil rights movement another spark. A march from Selma to the state capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama was organized by members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to be on February 1, 1965. This march led to the arrest of 770 people. Two more marches soon followed this one. The second one was led by Martin Luther King. James Reeb was one of the dozen white UU ministers who had come to support Martin Luther King after a horrible confrontation with the state troopers called "Bloody Sunday." After the group of 1,500 people, including Rev. Reeb and Martin Luther King, had crossed the Pettus Bridge, the crowd was stopped by a wall of state troopers. In order to avoid further confrontation, King decided to turn back. Soon after the march, on the evening of March 9th 1965, Rev. James Reeb was attacked by a group of white men in Selma, Alabama. Two days later, Rev. Reeb died of his injuries. The death of Rev. Reeb triggered a national outcry against the racism in the South. Rev. James Reeb took a stand against something that he felt very passionately about. He risked his life by marching with and supporting Martin Luther King and sadly, like many others, his life was taken. During the time of the African American civil rights movement, it was considered very controversial for a person of any race to demand and fight for equality. I find it especially admirable that Martin Luther King and Rev. James Reeb chose to be non-violent in their battle for civil rights.
I attend a Unitarian Universalist Church that is named after Rev. James Reeb. He is an important person in the history of civil rights and I admire his strength in standing up for what he believed in and knew to be true. I use the stories of Rev. James Reeb as a way to give myself strength and hope knowing that he had the courage to take the harder route in life. My congregation and I strive to emulate the strength and courage that Rev. James Reeb, and many others from this time in history, have shown.