Fifty Seven Years and Counting…

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Last week, I watched news coverage and commemorated virtually my solidarity with those who commemorated the 1963 March on Washington, for jobs and racial equality, with a 2020 March on Washington protesting racial inequality.   On August 28, 2020, thousands flooded the streets of Washington, D.C. once again to protest racial injustice, but with the added demand for police reform and to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Fifty seven years after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed his  “Dream” of the Beloved Community before our nation, we stand in the same spot demanding not only racial equality—but the right NOT to be killed by those sworn to protect and to serve.  In the midst of a pandemic, they came—masked and risking their lives to bear a wide variety of messages—calling for justice and equality with persistent reminders on signs and on their person—that human dignity applies to black and brown bodies too.

While many of the inequality issues of both the March in 1963 and the March in 2020 remained the same, there were some important differences.  The most evident was the significant diversity of the mostly young protesters. In addition, the theme that they chose, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” might seem provocative, but it bears an image of truth about racism in America. Racism is the “knee” that systematically “chokes” the life out of black and brown people—economically, educationally and actually every aspect of life.  Systemic racism can literally cost them their lives.

Whether America will more effectively acknowledge and address the entrenchment of systemic racism in our society this time, is still an open question for me.  However, I do feel that the national and global consciousness of racism is in a place it has not been before. We are at a place where real change is possible, but not without uncomfortable and difficult dialogue and change.

Fifty seven years and counting—as a 68 year old Black woman, as a religious Sister, as a Dominican Sister of Peace—I often ask myself, how do I feel about this continuing struggle for human dignity?  This may seem like an easy question, but sometimes, it is not. Certainly, it is a given, that I stand with those seeking justice and peace. But many times, to quote the recent words of former First Lady Michelle Obama and countless others, “I am frustrated and tired.” Especially, when I hear of more violence and yet another shooting of an unarmed Black person by police.  Or, when I hear the obvious lies and promotion of violence coming from the highest office in America. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Then comes the reality check.

The Atlantic photo credit Emily Jan.

I can always count on God to provide a reality check. It comes in different ways and sometimes, I wish it would come much sooner—but it comes.  It comes in the form of hope, like an adorable picture of a baby sporting an indelible truth on his hat and his shirt.  Or, it comes in the form of the 12-year old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in the very spot her grandfather stood in 57 years ago, talking about justice and speaking truth to power.  Sometimes hope comes in the realization that the diversity and youth involved in the struggle for justice today, is indeed, a sign of progress.  Hope came last week in the form of a peaceful march by diverse peoples to Washington, D.C. to commemorate earlier struggles for racial equality.



12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In whatever form God chooses to inspire me with hope during these times, I am grateful.  How does God inspire you during these times?

Posted in God Calling?, News

12 responses to “Fifty Seven Years and Counting…

  1. This time I pray racism will really be faced and change will actually happen. That’s only possible with God’s help and our work. Thanks, Pat, and God bless you and all of us.

  2. Thank you Pat for your honest and thoughtful reflection on systemic racism. What gives me hope are the many black and brown people who continue to work graciously and generously here in our Motherhouse in Columbus. My grand niece whose father was black and mother white as she studies to become a teacher inviting other young black women to make their lives significant through education of their gifts to society.

  3. God inspires me through the truth that you and Colette place squarely before us in your posts, through the courage of all those who continue to show up day after day across the nation to protest injustice despite blazing summer heat and blazing threats and criticisms,, and through the tears which flow increasingly frequently from my eyes and heart as I contemplate the relentless suffering to which your people continue to be subjected. Perhaps too there is hope in my increasing sense of helplessness, as that drives me more powerfully to rely on the One who alone has the power to move us to discover the next right steps for transformation – and also drives me to work harder to study to understand the history, the culture, and the systems that hold this oppression in maddening stability. Thank you for continuing to seek for hope, despite all the reasons that could legitimately cause you to give up. And thank you for continuing to choose to walk with us, even when we dont get it and dont deserve it. There is very much hope in our trying to work it out together over time – of that I am confident!

  4. Pat this was so inspiring for me to read. That someone can and is able to, so truthfully and gently, speak Truth. Thank you for sharing and continue to inspire us with your words of wisdom and compassion.

  5. God inspires me through you, Pat. Your truthfulness, sensitivity, and compassion brought to these critical issues
    sheds a light that gives hope. Thank you for your reflections, Pat.

  6. Thanks, Pat, for your perspective on this important issue that we need to address and demand the change that truly exemplifies the great commandment: “love your neighbor.”

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