• 61°

Nativity design harkens to Civil Rights Movement

SALISBURY — Bill Ragsdale says he’s always been open-minded about American civil rights.

Born in 1940, the Methodist preacher was attending Duke Divinity School during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

“I felt like things needed to get done,” he said.

So he decided to contribute.

Enter the “Modern Nativity.”

The year was 1955, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott had begun after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. Some 381 days later, the boycott would end with the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system.

This well-known boycott was carried out by the newly established Montgomery Improvement Association, an organization that would become the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Its president was Martin Luther King Jr.

To support the cause of the conference, Ragsdale would purchase a natural wooden Nativity being offered in a fundraiser in the late 1960s. He paid $10.

“It’s not what you would figure to be the traditional Nativity set,” he said, turning the simple silhouetted figures over in his hands. “In fact, when you look at Nativity sets … they’re done in the ethnic group from which the gospel story became real.”

Ragsdale said the natural and unpainted nature of the Nativity is a perfect reflection of that initial cause. Not only does it communicate the story of Christ’s birth with just a few simple figurines — Mary, Joseph, the manger, three wisemen, a shepherd and a sheep — but it’s an equalizer, easily transmuted to a variety of cultures.

“Missionaries have gone over there and spread the gospel … ,” he said. “People can take this and make it their own.”

Ragsdale was so fond of his initial, larger set that he made a replica in the early 1990s. That one was small enough to fit in a matchbox.

The preacher reports that, to date, he’s made eight to 10 replicas — each being sold for further charitable and Christian causes.

Comments

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police

Local

Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Business

After overcoming obstacles, local barber Daniel King earns registered status

Lifestyle

39th annual K12 student exhibitions go virtual

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber of Commerce to host ‘Salute to Agri-Business’ at March Power in Partnership

Local

Local legislators back bills ranging from new restrictions on sex offenders to Holocaust education

News

After surviving COVID-19 scare, Lois Willard set to celebrate 100th birthday

High School

Carson rolls over South 41-0 as about 600 allowed in to see season opener for both

Education

East Spencer after-school program looks toward opening, nonprofit status

Lifestyle

Frank Ramsey inducted into the NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

College

Livingstone’s Stoutamire inducted into 2021 CIAA Hall of Fame

Nation/World

J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

13 deaths reported in Rowan, county stresses need to receive second dose