Resident shares historic moment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

One Crenshaw County man touched history on Sunday.

Dennis Bogen, Chairman of the county chapter of the Alabama Democratic Conference, had the opportunity to serve as a pallbearer for Rosa Parks in Montgomery.

Parks, who died last Monday at the age of 92, helped spark the Civil Rights movement in Alabama by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. Her body was transported to Montgomery on Saturday and hundreds crowded the St. Paul AME Church on Sunday to pay their respects.

Bogen, who served as an usher during the service, was asked to bear Parks’ body out of the church and into a hearse, where it was then transported to the airport.

“Someone said to me, ‘Mr. Bogen, will you be a pallbearer for Mrs. Parks?’” said Bogen. “I really didn’t know how they knew my name because I didn’t have a nametag on. But it was a privilege. I can’t describe it. I’ve carried many bodies, but this was truly an honor.”

Cameras from the Dothan Eagle and Montgomery Advertiser captured Bogen on film as he helped escort Parks’ body to the hearse. He said he was also interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times after the service.

“I was numb while I was carrying Mrs. Parks,” he said. “I really didn’t understand the history of what I was doing. It was only later on when people thanked me that I understood.”

Bogen said the service itself was more of a celebration than a goodbye.

“It was like we were preparing to send Mrs. Parks off to the kingdom,” he said. “And like the Bishop said, Rosa wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Just rich people and poor people together sending her off.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gov. Bob Riley, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright and Martin Luther King III were in attendance, as was actress Cicely Tyson. Bogen said he received a hug from Tyson and an immediate recognition from Johnnie Carr, a longtime friend of Parks and Civil Rights activist.

“She said ‘my friend,’ when she saw me,” he said.

Bogen said he never had the chance to meet Parks when she was alive.

But he thanked her on Sunday.

“She was a beautiful woman,” he said. “I thanked her for what she did.”

Bogen’s brother, Lorey, a councilman with the Brantley City Council said he and fellow councilman Darryl Elliot plan on asking the council for a resolution honoring Parks the first Monday of each November.

“Without Rosa Parks we wouldn’t even have the chance to serve in government,” he said.