by April Bayer
Several students and members of the Seward community attended a premiere of the “The First Rosa,” a documentary film sponsored by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, on Concordia’s campus on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The film tells the story of Rosa Young, an African American woman who started a movement in Alabama in the 1910s that led to the establishment of Lutheran schools throughout the state.
“The First Rosa” includes scenes from Young’s life, commentary from LCMS pastors on her work and legacy, and tributes and interviews with Young’s former students and others who knew her.
Concordia was one of many LCMS schools and churches given the opportunity to host an early showing of the film.
“I think for our students it’s an understanding of what Rosa’s ministry meant to the African American people,” said Dr. Ron Bork, associate dean of the college of education, health and human sciences. “She felt it was important to share [the message of Christ] and educate people.”
Young’s autobiography “Light in the Dark Belt,” which was published in 1930, was the inspiration for the film. In the book, Young outlines her belief in the power of prayer, her goal of achieving an accurate, Christ-centered curriculum, and her struggles in keeping schools open, which included financial problems and disagreements with members of the surrounding community.
After contacting a Lutheran organization that supported African American ministry, Young found the financial support she needed. With the help of LCMS missionaries, enrollment grew quickly, and Young was able to help establish several Lutheran schools and churches across Alabama.
A reception was held after the screening, giving students, faculty and community members a chance to discuss the film.
“Going into education, it’s really inspirational to see how God can work through someone like Rosa and hope that He can use us [in the same way],” said Jamie Nikodym, a freshman majoring in early childhood education.