With film release, ‘The First Rosa’ gets her due

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“The First Rosa” was shown at Berea Lutheran Church in Richfield on Feb. 21. The film was produced by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in hopes of spreading the story of a pioneer in black education and establishing more schools in Rosa Young’s name. (Poster image courtesy Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)

“The First Rosa” was shown at Berea Lutheran Church in Richfield on Feb. 21. The film was produced by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in hopes of spreading the story of a pioneer in black education and establishing more schools in Rosa Young’s name. (Poster image courtesy Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)

In the history of America’s civil rights movement, the name Rosa stands on its own, but there was an earlier Rosa from the same state with her own story of inspiration.

That story spread north to Berea Lutheran Church in Richfield on Feb. 21, when the church hosted the official premiere of “The First Rosa.” The 42-minute film tells the story of Rosa Young, who was instrumental in bringing the Lutheran Church to rural Alabama in the first half of the 20th century.

Young founded 30 Lutheran schools for blacks and 35 Lutheran churches, according to Dr. Roosevelt Gray, director of black ministry for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Gray traveled from Missouri for the screening.

But why feature the film in Richfield? Young’s great niece, Bloomington resident Mary Wise, happens to be a member of Berea Lutheran Church, and has been for nearly 40 years. She was an advisor for the film.

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