Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the authors' and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.
"We never learned this in school" is often heard while discussing Howard Zinn's book, A People's History of the United States.
Although we're familiar with stories of successful Americans (many of us have lived through most of the twentieth century), Zinn's book invites us to look at history from the side of women, factory workers, Native Americans, African Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers from Columbus' arrival through President Clinton's first term. Our country's battles for fair wages, eight-hour workdays, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, and racial equality have been fought at a grassroots level against violent resistance.
Reading about rampant racism, robber barons, unionizing workers, attacks on Native Americans and foreigners, inflation, soaring market prices, and the inequality of women elicits a sense of deja vu--there's nothing new under the sun.
Our Declaration of Independence says all of us have an equal right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet our American system of government supports the interests of the wealthy. Racism and other inequalities are still alive and well in the land of the free. Contrary to familiar narratives we grew up with, the United States has not always welcomed the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. Systemic inequality and economic oppression have not resulted in a smooth melting pot of diversity. America is not always the hero on a white horse fighting for the underdog, but rather a shrewd corporate machine that selectively becomes involved in war for economic and political gain. It's easy to hold the belief that our system is broken; what's not easy is examining history in detail and concluding the system is operating exactly as it was designed.
This book invites us to hear the evening news differently. When troops are assembled for war, what must their families and jobs relinquish? When whole neighborhoods are destroyed, how are they made livable again? Who cares for the wounded and buries the dead? Our hope is that A People's History of the United States will broaden our understanding of the social and political pressures of our day. We must look for those who are disenfranchised and abandoned and find ways to support them fully living the values expressed in our country's founding declarations.
(There is a copy of Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States” in the CSA JPIC Resource Library.)
The theme for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin this year is “Preparing for Elections of 2024.” Read the Issues Briefing.
Three days of programming were recently aired and the recordings are now available.
Watch to learn what voters face in 2024 and beyond. From redistricting, to protecting election workers, to tearing down barriers that prevent access to vote, our democracy has never been more at risk.
Thurs, November 9 - Setting the Stage: Redistricting in Wisconsin
Sat, November 11 - Citizen Action at the State Level: Wisconsin Constitutional Amendments
Tues, November 14 - Overcoming Barriers to Voting & Election Administration Challenges
I have been impressed by so many articles and activities that I have come across, or that have been shared with me, that I must share with all of you!
First, since May of this year, CSA has been sponsoring a monthly series at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts called, The Art of Storytelling. November is the last month and will feature “storyteller” Jessica Ryan, Vice-Chair of Brothertown Indian Nation. This will happen on Friday, November 17 at 11 AM in the Cafe 1906 room of Thelma - 51 Sheboygan Street, Fond du Lac. In addition to sharing Brothertown’s story and some traditions, community members are invited to weave a red willow dreamcatcher to bring home. This is a free event. All welcome to join and help celebrate National Native American Month with the community’s local tribe.
Second, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offered a series of three stories that highlight indigenous knowledge of nature. The first title of the series really says it all - their knowledge is key to navigating climate change, but will enough people listen? I trust you will enjoy these easy, but thought-provoking, reads:
Third, on Monday, November 27 at 6 pm, a local group of women - indigenous and non-indigenous - who have named themselves “Winnebago Water Women,” will be gathering for a Full Moon Ceremony at a local residence in Fond du Lac. If you would like more information about this or any upcoming monthly ceremonies, please contact me at email@example.com
Lastly (even though I know there are many, many more), PBS Wisconsin Education offers engaging Wisconsin Biographies about the people who have made history and shaped our state. Their stories are geared toward children, grades 3-6, but I find them very interesting and easy to follow. I wish my teachers had access to these stories and shared them with me 4-5 decades ago!
This month’s spotlighted story features Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher and Mentor. I hope you will take the time to watch it, share it with others, and be sure to visit the website to continue your learning about other change makers.
Ebony Vision will host its 10th Annual “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner…You" event on November 11, 2023 from 3pm – 5pm at the FDL YMCA. This event, over the last 10 years, has brought all of the Fond du Lac community ethnic groups together to break bread and celebrate who we all are in the community, which is key to community inclusiveness (even virtually through Covid).
All are invited to join. If you’d like to bring a dish to pass, please enter your dish with its list of ingredients (you never know who is allergic to the smallest spice) by Friday November 3rd at 5pm. Use this form: https://forms.gle/krrfWmQkeVWZZt4v9
This annual event is named after the 1967 American romantic comedy drama film with the same name. The movie, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner starred Spencer Tracy (his final role), Sidney Poitier, and Katharine Hepburn. The film was one of the few films of the time to depict an interracial marriage in a positive light, as interracial marriage historically had been illegal in manu U.S. states. It was still illegal in 17 states, until June 12, 1967, six months before the film was released. In 2017, on its 50th anniversary, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
In addition to a fabulous, inclusive dinner, guests can try their luck at a 50/50 raffle, which will help support the mission of Ebony Vision, which is to impact and improve the Fond du Lac Community and surrounding areas through unified efforts that educate and enhance the African American culture.
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. has resulted in a whole month designated for that purpose.
The Sisters of St Agnes commit to being good stewards of the land, to showing special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions, and to collaborating with First Nation People today on issues that impact our common home, and the common good. All are challenged to commit to some action during the month to support the Indigenous voice. Multiple online discussions, events and ceremonies can be found on the Native American Heritage Month website. This Web portal is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
Pictured: Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of Interior; the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet Secretary.
Join CSA at the last session of Thelma’s Art of Storytelling, which will feature the stories and heritage of the Brothertown Indian Nation, and partake in other relevant programs across the state.
The Congregation of Sisters of St Agnes (CSA) has sponsored the speaker series for Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts’ Art of Storytelling series, which started in May 2023 and will conclude on November 17. At this seventh and final event, Jessica Ryan, Vice-Chair of the Brothertown Indian Nation will provide insightful information about the history and culture of the Brothertown and their heritage in Fond du Lac, WI.
This is a free community offering and CSA is hoping for a great turn out. Please plan to attend! The program starts at 11 a.m. on November 17 in the Cafe 1906 room at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac.
Additionally, the Sinsinawan Dominican Sisters have several events planned throughout Native American Heritage Month. Visit their website to learn more: https://www.sinsinawa.org/moundcenter/events/
In a moment once unimaginable, Sister Jeannine, SL, met with Pope Francis to thank him for his openness to blessing same-sex unions, as well as for his opposition to the criminalization of LGBTQ+ people in civil society.
The 50-minute meeting took place the afternoon of Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at Casa Santa Marta, the pope’s residence in the Vatican. Three New Ways Ministry staff members were also present at the meeting.
CSA Sisters and Staff among 136 total participants in NAMI Fond du Lac’s Second Annual Step Up to Prevent Suicide Campaign.
NAMI Fond du Lac is a local affiliate of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), a grassroots organization founded in 1979, with a mission to empower those young and old affected by mental illness and reduce stigma through support, education and outreach. One in five Americans live with a mental health condition. According to a statistic shared by the Center for Suicide Prevention, an average of 135 people are directly impacted by every death by suicide. That means 40-50% of the U.S. population is affected by suicide every year.
NAMI Fond du Lac’s second annual Step Up to Prevent Suicide campaign was July 16 to September 9. In an effort to raise awareness and funding, supporters could sign up individually or as a team in a friendly competition with other individuals and teams to achieve the highest mileage and fundraising. All were encouraged to set a goal of 125 miles, the perimeter of Fond du Lac County. Most achieved that, and then some.
For the second year in a row, CSA formed a team of 10 individuals, who pledged to put in steps and raise funds to support NAMI’s mission. Team CSA members included: Sisters Sue Seeby, Peg Spindler (not pictured), and Jean Salchert. Sister Jean received the team's MVP Award, not only for raising the most funds by appealing to her generous friends and family, but also because she was a top “stepper” on the team and increased her total mileage almost weekly. Others on Team CSA were staff members: Chelsea Koenigs, Dena Rose Kryzanowski, Dusty Krikau, Jenny Lukowski, Lisa Schuler, Suzanne Flood, and Tracy Abler. Both Lisa and Tracy shared that they are personally close to individuals who suffer from mental illness and/or have committed suicide, and they walked for them.
Team CSA walked nearly 2,500 miles of the total 31,500 recorded during the campaign and donated and raised nearly $1,000. We give thanks to all who supported our team so we could support others through the mission of NAMI.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day became a U.S. national holiday in 2021 to honor Native American peoples and to recognize their cultures and contributions to our society.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated the second Monday in October; this year it is October 9. Here in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Brothertown Indian Nation will be celebrating their 40th annual Homecoming on October 21. The celebration is held at their community center, 311 Winnebago Drive. It is a special time for members to gather and reconnect with relatives, to learn, share, dance, shop, and eat together. Simply, it is a time to engage in culture.The public is welcome to attend! View this flyer for details.
Visit brothertownindians.org to learn more about Brothertown’s Heritage and Culture.
Additionally, you can honor Indigenous Peoples Day by:
Native movement leader Leonard Peltier has been unjustly imprisoned for nearly 50 years; he is the longest-incarcerated political prisoner in U.S.history. Mr. Leonard was targeted for his leadership role in the American Indian Movement for Indigenous rights and sovereignty and must be set free.
For his 79th birthday a few weeks ago, relatives at NDN Collective led a 1,600 mile caravan from Pine Ridge Reservation to Washington, D.C.. Hundreds marched and rallied at the White House, and 35 Indigenous activists and allies were arrested as part of a direct action calling on President Biden to free Leonard.
Only President Biden has the power to release Peltier from federal prison, and he will only do so with enough public pressure. Groups like Native Organizers Alliance Action Fund, gathered 90,000 petition signatures so far, and we’d like to get to 100,000 signatures before Rep. Raúl Grijalva delivers the petitions to President Biden this Friday, October 6th ahead of Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 9th).
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for Leonard’s immediate release and said that Peltier “continues to be detained because he is Native American.”
Leonard is locked in a cage for a crime he did not commit. While in prison, Leonard has endured years of medical neglect and torturous solitary confinement.
As the longest-incarcerated political prisoner in our country, Leonard was targeted for his leadership role in the American Indian Movement for Indigenous rights and sovereignty.
To convict Leonard, the FBI withheld and falsified key evidence and coerced witnesses to lie (they all later retracted their statements). During the trial, one of the jurors even admitted to prejudice against Peltier for being Native.
Please sign and share the petition calling on President Biden to correct this outrageous injustice. Leonard Peltier deserves to live out his days with his family on his ancestral homelands.
Each month, we will share a new topic and and provide a list of the resources to help you explore. This month, we invite you to “Define Race and forms of Racism.”
- How To Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi (book)
- 6 Ways a Black Person Can Tell a White Person Isn’t Racist (article) - to view this article, you'll need to create a free account on the website. It does not require you to enter payment information.
- 106 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice (article)
The Social Justice Ministry at Holy Trinity in Washington, DC seeks to assist parishioners in deepening their relationship with God through acts of justice.
They are inviting you to join a restorative justice webinar on September 23 at 9 AM CT to hear how God used the relationship of two men to shape their future careers, help them navigate life’s challenges, both blessing and suffering, and demonstrate God’s love for all God’s creation, “every tribe and tongue.”
Ken Boretti and Carl Reid grew up in different worlds. Ken, a cradle Catholic, is of Irish and Italian descent and hails from Beverly, Massachusetts. Carl is African American and was the product of the military community which was integrated by President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 in 1948. By 1977, Carl had lived in Fort Bliss Texas, the Panama Canal Zone and was graduating from high school in Hampton Roads, Virginia, home to three military installations. Boston, just 24 miles from Beverly, was a flash point for race relations as parents resisted busing measures to integrate schools, sometimes violently. Despite these differences, Ken and Carl [as roommates] became close friends and brothers in Christ at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Walk with them a moment to hear their story. Register here.
The Center for the Study of Consecrated Life presents an online event which will overview the mostly unreconciled histories of slavery and segregation in U.S. women’s religious life as well as some notable attempts to make reparation for the enduring sin of anti-Black racism and exclusion within Catholic boundaries.
Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, a historian of the African American experience with research and teaching specializations in women’s religious and Black freedom movement history is the featured speaker for the free, online event titled, “Reckoning with Dangerous Memories in the History of U.S. Catholic Women’s Religious Life” on September 27 at 5 pm CT. Learn more and register here.
Williams is also speaking on September 13 on a similar topic. Details were included in this article from the August 17 edition of Bending the Arc.
An important 4-day interactive program helps area high school students experience their power to affect change and to discover the humanity they all share.
Challenge Day is a daylong experiential workshop for students in 7th - 12th grades. What began as an anti-bullying program has become so much more to people around the world. Participants experience powerful love and belonging, connect across lines of difference and move toward creating the culture they want in their schools and communities.
United for Diversity is teaming up with the Fond du Lac School District in offering a Challenge Day experience to every freshman student this fall, over the course of four days, October 16-19, 2023. This will be the seventh year Challenge Day has come to the Fond du Lac High School. School administrators praise the event noting they’ve seen immediate results in student behaviors, engagement, empathy and understanding.
The cost to bring two trained facilitators in from California and to offer students lunch and snacks throughout each day is over $17,000. Event organizers, led by Scott Rodman, have started to receive generous support from organizations, businesses, and individuals in the community including the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes JPIC Office. In addition to funding, approximately 100 adult volunteers are needed to make this event happen, 25 per day. Volunteers are present to facilitate small groups, keep an eye on behaviors, and participate in a supportive role. As a past volunteer, I can attest to the powerful dynamics of the day. It is an emotional experience as you watch youth transform right before your eyes. Oprah Winfrey has said, “This is how we change the world.” Watch her video and others here.
The next monthly offering of Thelma’s Art of Storytelling, sponsored by CSA, will be held on Friday, August 18, at 11 am. Scott Rodman is the featured speaker and will be talking about Challenge Day and the need and role of volunteers. The public is invited. See details here.
If you are interested in being a volunteer for any one or more of these days, or have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 920-907-2315.
Join the Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious for a free webinar about the barriers still in place when researching the history of US Black Catholic women and girls.
Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious is presenting the webinar Still Mining the Forgotten: US Black Catholic Women and Girls and the Challenges of the Archive with Dr. Shannen Dee Williams.
Wednesday, September 13
2 PM Eastern, 1 PM Central, 12 PM Mountain, 11 AM Pacific.
This webinar is free to attend, but registration is required: https://forms.gle/4CQtrvJ228t6YMu19
About the webinar:
Scholars of US Black Catholic women and girls, religious and lay, face a host of barriers in the fight to recover, reclaim, and write histories of their subjects. This presentation will outline these core barriers as well as consider the politics, challenges, and necessity of building traditional and nontraditional archives for this largely overlooked group of American Catholic women.
About the presenter:
Dr. Shannen Dee Williams is Associate Professor of History at the University of Dayton. A historian of the African American experience with research and teaching specializations in women’s, religious and Black freedom movement history, Williams is the author of Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle, which was published by Duke University Press in May 2022. Subversive Habits was named a top five book published in religion by Publishers' Weekly in 2022. It also received the 2022 Letitia Woods Brown Award for Best Book in African American Women's History from the Association of Black Women Historians.
Dr. Williams’s research been supported by a host of fellowships, grants and awards, including a Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Fellowship in Religion and Ethics from the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, an Albert J. Beveridge Grant from the American Historical Association and the John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award from the American Catholic Historical Association. Her work has been published in the Journal of African American History, American Catholic Studies, the Washington Post, America Magazine, and National Catholic Reporter.
Each month, we will share a new topic and and provide a list of the resources to help you explore. This month, we invite you to “Define Race and forms of Racism.”
- Not so Black and White (article)
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Book). Reader’s Guide
- Race the Power of Illusion, episode 2 (5:30 video)
- The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes (3:07 video)
- The trailer for Race – the Power of Illusion (5:15 video)
- Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race (article)
- Structural Racism Explained (7:24 video)
The United Nations observes World’s Indigenous People on August 9th and offers resources and stories of hope and struggle. In 2023, it recognizes indigenous youth as agents of change for self-determination.
Violations of the rights of the world's Indigenous Peoples have become a persistent problem, sometimes because of a historical burden from their colonization backgrounds and others because of the contrast with a constantly changing society.
In response to this problem, let’s remember every August 9 that Indigenous Peoples have the right to make their own decisions and carry them out meaningfully and culturally appropriate to them.
In this context of demand for self-determination, Indigenous youth are working as agents of change at the forefront of some of the most pressing crises facing humanity today. Learn more here.
Join the August 9 Commemoration Event where speakers will share their expertise and experience about the role of indigenous youth in exercising self-determination in the context of climate action and the green transition, mobilizing for justice, and intergenerational connections.
The 13th National Black Catholic Congress theme is “Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive.” The scriptural basis for the theme comes from Habakkuk 2:2−4: “Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. See, the rash have no integrity; but the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.’”
“Like Habakkuk, we must lament about what has been going on and struggle to understand how God is present,” says Rev. Raymond Harris, who also provides these other spiritual considerations and wisdom regarding the 2023 theme.
In a National Catholic Reporter article from July 18, 2023, Marianist Sr. Nicole Trahan, chair of the board of the National Religious Vocations Conference, states, “The Congress is an opportunity to respond to two challenges: that religious congregations and seminaries are not racially representative of the U.S. Catholic church, and that young people of all races are walking away from the Catholic faith or, for most, they’re just walking away from faith in general.
The four-day event, held at National Harbor in Maryland, will feature a keynote address by Cardinal Wilton Gregory. Gregory, who has served as Washington's archbishop since 2019, was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2020. The 2023 Congress will be the first time the event is held with a Black cardinal. Learn more here: https://www.nbccgathering2023.org/Home
Pictured are participants in line for the Privilege Walk, listening for instructions.
On June 6, 2023, members of the virtual 2022-2023 cohort of The Humanity Project: Telling the Untold Story met in person for their final session at the CSA Motherhouse. Sisters and Associates joined members of the Fond du Lac community in monthly virtual sessions that engaged in topics such as race as a social construct; segregation through red lining, white flight, and divestment in urban communities; racism in education and criminal justice systems; the war on drugs and black criminalization; how media informs our implicit bias; and concluded by exploring white fragility and privilege.
The Privilege Walk activity was chosen for the end of the year and not the beginning as it requires trust and a sense of safety for all participants; something that is gained throughout the monthly sessions together. Twenty-seven statements were made and participants were asked to take a step forward or back as they applied. For example, if either of your parents graduated from college, take one step forward. Or, if you were ever stopped by the police because they felt you were suspicious, take one step backward. After all statements were made, participants quietly looked around to see where they were standing and where others were. It was a powerful activity that left many seeing the unspoken advantages the dominant culture has over people, especially people of color. The session leaders gave other examples of how our society has not treated everyone equally. In many ways (wealth, language, gender, skin color, sexuality, ability, education, body size, mental health, etc.) we value certain traits and experiences preferentially, giving others privilege and power.
The Privilege Walk is based on the work of Peggy McIntosh’s article called, “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” This activity can also be done with a partner or a small group of people using this worksheet.
You may also enjoy this 18-minute YouTube TEDxTalk from Peggy McIntosh - “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion.”
YES! launched a series of interviews conducted in Atlanta at a recent conference organized by the Decolonizing Wealth Project.The Alight, Align, Arise conference helped to mobilize the movement for reparations for Black Americans.
For more than 40 years, a bill to establish a Congressional commission to consider reparations to Black Americans has languished in Congress. House Resolution 40, originally drafted by the late Rep. John Conyers, has been introduced in every congressional session since 1989.
Reparations are about more than just a check or financial restitution. At their root, reparations are about repair—recognizing the historic and ongoing harm caused by the trans-Atlantic slave trade and all that followed, including Jim Crow segregation, voter suppression, continued police violence, and ongoing systemic racism in housing, employment, education, and more.
On June 1, 2023, the CSA Leadership Team joined other sisters, staff, and community leaders for a powerful presentation of one person’s journey to conscious living as a transgendered person.
CSA partnered with the Arc Fond du Lac to bring Dr. Elijah Nicholas to Moraine Park Technical College to kick off Pride Month with LGBTQIA+ training. Dr. Nicholas (he, him, his) took a room of Fond du Lac community members on a fascinating journey through his own conscious living and his gender transition, while helping others to understand: gender and sexuality, what thriving looks like, why pronouns matter, and conscious-driven decision making.
The purpose of the training was to provide a safe environment for discussions that lead to authentic employee inclusion, genuine welcoming of all employees, and understanding/empathizing with differences within the organization. Among the many facts Dr. Nicholas shared, he noted that trans individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed and cisgender employees make 32% more money per year than transgender employees. He also referenced a Cornell study in 2018, indicating 93% of peer reviewed research demonstrated that “gender transition” improves the overall well-being of transgender people (Cornell University, 2018). They thrive in the workplace when the whole work team transitions with them. Of course, this takes work, and why it is important for organizations to have policies and practices in place to support not only the person transitioning, but those around them.
Scott Rodman, a United for Diversity board member, was one of the attendees, and thought “it was an excellent program.” He continued to share, “Since I’ve been a friend of a transgendered woman for 5+ years, I thought I understood the problems that trans people have. I do, but there is always something more you can learn from this kind of presentation. The speaker shared intimate emotions and feelings about his trauma from childhood to adulthood. It made me dig deeper about how I can be a better friend and it made me appreciate that she considers me to be a trusted friend with whom she has shared her life story.“
Pride Month is an annual celebration of the many contributions made by the LGBTQ+ community to history, society and cultures worldwide. In most places, Pride is celebrated throughout the month of June each year in commemoration of its roots in the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. However, in some areas—especially in the Southern Hemisphere—pride events occur at other times of the year. Read more here: https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/pride-month
For the latest Catholic LGBTQIA+ updates, subscribe to New Ways Ministry mailing list: https://www.newwaysministry.org/
Here in Fond du Lac, Pride Picnic is celebrated at Lakeside Park on Sunday, June 25 from Noon to 8 pm. Watch this video to learn more.
The newest federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. President Joe Biden signed the bill on June 17, 2021, making Juneteenth the eleventh American federal holiday and the first to obtain legal observance as a federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was designated in 1983.
The holiday commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation in the U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation to free enslaved African Americans in secessionist states on January 1, 1863, but enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, would not learn of their freedom until two years later.
On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informed the community of Galveston of Lincoln's proclamation. Though it was issued years prior, enslavers were held responsible for telling the enslaved they were free, and some ignored the directive. Maj. Gen. Gordon demanded Galveston locals comply with the proclamation.
More than half of states will recognize Juneteenth as an official public holiday in 2023. Find out where your state stands here.
Locally, here in Fond du Lac, CSA is a co-sponsor of Ebony Vision’s 15th Annual Juneteenth Celebration, which will be held on Saturday, June 17th from 11 am to 5 pm at Buttermilk Creek Park. CSA is committed to developing mutual relationships through education, awareness of culture, and history. Sisters and Associates will be on hand to meet and greet Fond du Lac community residents and update visitors on the work of CSA, as well as provide a fun children’s activity.
Pictured here is Sister Josephine Goebel helping a young man consider his place on CSA’s “Tower of Love” project at last year’s Juneteenth event.
Looking for something to do on your own time? Consider watching the film, “Who We Are - A Chronicle of Racism in America.” Using humor, heartbreak, passion, and outrage, Jeffery Robinson interweaves storytelling, interviews, archival and present-day video footage, to provide an illuminating and sobering account of racism in the United States. Watch the movie trailer here.
Jawanza Eric Clark discusses his book, Reclaiming Stolen Earth: An Africana Ecotheology in a powerful lecture, co-sponsored by four religious organizations in the New York area during Laudato Si' Week 2023.
In his work, Dr. Clark argues that the problem of impending ecological devastation cannot be solved without a repudiation of the whiteness that created it. This means naming and rejecting white epistemological hubris, which objectifies the land and misunderstands the spiritual potency of nature, and creating space for formerly colonized and oppressed perspectives to inform our response to ecocide and make their contribution to the restoration of the Earth.
Please watch “Whose Earth Is it? Decolonizing Echotheology
On May 18, 2023, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes joined the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Justice Team and several other local, state, and national Catholic organizations, congregations, parishes, etc. in endorsing the historic work of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-American Who Are Descendants of those Enslaved in the United States. Specifically, CSA endorsed the general concept of studying reparations for African Americans and promoting awareness and conversations, but not specifically the Task Force, or the Interim Report.
Details: The California State Legislature and the California governor formed the nine-member Task Force in 2020 after the brutal murder of George Floyd (Assembly Bill 3121). The Task Force - the first in the nation – was commissioned to pursue a 3-part mandate to:
- research/study the history and harm of slavery in California;
- educate the public and elected leaders about its findings; and
- explore a wide range of potential reparations as defined by international law.
The Task Force issued their first comprehensive interim report last June, 2022 and began holding public hearings: lifting up the history, dispelling myths, proposing possible approaches to address the intergenerational harm in health, housing, education, compensation, etc. Linked here is the report’s 29-page executive summary. Their work is already bearing fruit, forging new ties across race, class, culture, and religion. Another indication of its power is the escalating attacks and efforts by the right-wing news media to distort their findings as they draw near to issuing their final report. To learn more, visit: https://supportreparations.org/
CSA has partnered with the Arc of Fond du Lac and United for Diversity to bring the community a special program called, "Authentic Conversations: Conscious-Driven Decision Making to Enlighten and Evolve" with Dr. Elijah Nichols.
Dr. Nichols has helped others increase their Trans Awareness and elevate company morale without forcing change on company or culture or individual religious beliefs. All are invited to attend this in-person training session:
Thursday, June 1, 2023
8:00 - 9:00 Registration and Breakfast
9:00 - 10:30 Presentation
10:30 - 11:00 Questions & Conversations
Moraine Park Technical College
Fond du Lac, WI
Building O, Conference Center, Room O109C
As CSA is a major sponsor for this event, there is no cost to attend if you are a CSA affiliate. Contact Tracy Abler at email@example.com for the coupon code.
Come energize your morning with others!
I vividly remember where I was the morning following the murder of George Floyd. I was working from home, physically and emotionally unable to focus on anything but the video (over and over again), the outcries of injustice, and the relentless feeling of pain, disbelief, and frustration that followed me for days. I also remember the first phone call I had with anyone that day. It was a coworker who merely agreed, “ya, how terrible” while hardly skipping a bit in her normal conversation that I was no longer able to listen to. I needed to find “my people” - others with the same emotion and need to take action. For weeks and months following, I continued to turn to those supporters, who are now my confidants, teachers, and treasured friends. These friends and I have been doing the work of telling the untold history of racism that was largely re-ignited May 25, 2020.
I think it is important to not only say his name, but to remember who George Floyd was. He was a man raised in a racially segregated and economically impoverished Houston neighborhood. He was a descendent of a formerly enslaved Black farmer, whose wealth was stripped away by the politics of white backlash. His mother grew up as one of 13 children, searching in vain for an escape from intergenerational poverty. His father was an inspiring musician with a weakness for alcohol and extramarital carousing. George himself struggled with drug addiction, frequent arrests, and a man whose muscular physical interior hid a gentle soul that battled with pain, anxiety, claustrophobia, and depression. Why did society and our criminal justice system fail to see the humanity of Mr. Floyd so badly? What have we been taught? Or maybe worse, what have we not been taught?
I co-lead a program called, The Humanity Project: Telling the Untold Story. We use videos, activities, and courageous conversations to help our participants see racism as a social construct; understand how forms of slavery and attacks on Black Americans have continued since the 13th Amendment, just in new forms and disguises; and have taken a hard look at discriminatory laws and practices that continue to create generations of wealth and education gaps and disproportionately criminalize Black men and women.
Nearly 40 CSA Sisters and Associates have participated in The Humanity Project since its inception in 2015. The 2022-2023 program year is coming to an end. Our final session is being hosted by Motherhouse Sisters in Founders Hall on June 6th. I look forward to this in-person interaction and am grateful to CSA for their steadfast work around racial justice and its intersecting forms of bias, prejudice, and injustice.
I have invited other Sisters and Associates to also share their experiences of George Floyd’s murder and their awareness of racism today. Here are some of their responses:
“George Floyd’s murder got national recognition because a bystander took action and filmed it on her phone. Ordinary people got a national movement started because they noticed and did something. It helped me realize that some of the seemingly insignificant things I notice and do can have repercussions. The few interactions I have had in the past couple of years are anything but spectacular, yet, I hope they have sent a small ripple into the Fond du Lac community.
"One example stands out. I was leaving St. Mary’s Church at noon one day and a Black bicycler caught my eye. I smiled and we greeted each other. As I reached the center of the street he turned around and asked me about the Church building. Then asked me to pray for him. ‘Yes’ I said, ‘but let’s get out of the middle of the street.’ He proceeded to sing a song before we prayed. Really, the song was a part of the prayer.” - Sister Josephine Goebel, CSA
“I live in Minneapolis and the area where George Floyd was murdered was very close to where my brother and his family live. I was going through a period of no immunity and was literally stuck in my home with a foreign exchange student from Kyrgyzstan during this time. My children were delivering groceries to me. The rest of my family however was very active. My son and his wife and young sons went down to the area to clean up the next day. That was what many of the residents were doing along with passing out water, food and other necessities. That area of uptown where George was murdered is now a food desert after this incident. There was a march down my street in protest and the picture of the murder of a friend of my daughter’s when he was sitting in a car with his girlfriend and young child in the back also flashed into my mind. We set up neighborhood watches on my street and exchanged phone numbers. I saw trucks and cars with out of state plates coming into our neighborhoods to create problems. Most of the people of Minneapolis were not violent. The city has calmed down, but there needs to be more education and mental health professionals going out on calls with the police or instead of them in many cases. I still pray that this horror makes a difference!” - CSA Associate, Lynn Barber
“I particularly remembered how racism affects us at Mass on Mother's Day. I recognized many people who were there but when I asked myself who was missing, I remembered the mothers and their families at the border who were trying their best to preserve lives without shelter from the sun, food, water or bathrooms for their children. We continue as a society to kneel on the necks of those who cannot defend themselves. Like George Floyd, their name is Jesus.” - CSA Associate, Mary Gorske
“When I think back on this event, I recall discussions with two black women at my workplace who were not faring great in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder. It's the 21st century, yet there we were, the same horrific record continued to play... They were both challenged by a sense of isolation: in many workplaces, politics and religion are taboo topics. Since no one at work was talking about George Floyd, they felt their white co-workers either were not affected by this murder, or perhaps didn't care. And before I reached out to the only black person on my team, I hesitated momentarily, unsure if I should. Does a black person really want to hear from a pasty, middle-aged white woman right now?
"I recall my anger from the news footage, which morphed into incredulity and sorrow like the inside of a lava lamp. If a police officer really believes their life is in danger, they don't keep their hands in their pockets. A jury agreed." - CSA Associate Kelly Robe
Kelly also shares the instructions on one of the signs at the George Floyd Memorial Square that continue to be a good reminder for her, and should be for us all:
- Decenter yourself and come to listen, learn, mourn, and witness. Remember you are here to support, not to be supported.
- Seek to contribute to the energy of the space, rather than drain it. Bring your own processing to other white folks so that you will not harm BIPOC [black and indigenous people of color.]
- Visitors are encouraged to be ‘mindful’ of whether their “volume, pace, and movements are supporting or undermining” efforts to ‘decenter’ themselves and urges them to not take pictures of people without their consent.
- If you witness white folks doing problematic things, speak up with compassion to take the burden off of Black folks and our siblings of color whenever appropriate. Seek to engage rather than escalate, so that it can be a learning movement rather than a disruption.
Our CSA journey calls us to “strengthen the bond that unites us” by committing to develop mutual relationships through education and awareness of culture, history and politics. As such…
You are invited to attend the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts, “Art of Storytelling” series beginning May 19th!
The Art of Storytelling is a series of diverse storytellers in our community sharing their life experiences and stories from their cultures. CSA is sponsoring this series.
In honor of AAPI (Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander) Heritage month, the May 19th speaker is Ger Xiong. Ger will share her experiences growing up as a Hmong girl being born in a refugee camp, coming to the U.S., and how she sees the cultural changes.
The series will continue the third Friday of each month, May through November, with a start time of 11 am in Thelma’s Café 1906, 51 Sheboygan Street. This is a free, in-person event, and open to the public (please share widely).
More details here: https://www.thelmaarts.org/event/art-of-storytelling-asian/
In a country where hate crimes have increased over 100% against Asian Americans from 2020 to 2021, it is important we acknowledge and honor May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
The Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) announced this year’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.”
The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and others join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who have enriched American’s history and are instrumental in its future success. Visit https://www.asianpacificheritage.gov/ to engage in the rich art, music and culture of our AAPI siblings.
CONCERNING LOCAL NEWS STORY:
The Declaration For American Democracy coalition is circulating a Freedom to Vote Act sign-on letter that they will send to Hill offices and the press around the introduction. CSA has joined this effort by signing onto the Freedom to Vote Act letter.
The Freedom to Vote Act will finally take action against some of the largest issues plaguing our democracy. It is a critical transformative legislative package that would create national standards to protect our freedom to vote, get big money out of politics, combat parisian election subversion, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation to all.
Actions may include a Call-In Day, a Social Media Storm, and Lobby Visits. Please watch your email and social media platforms to learn how you can join in activities to lift up this bill. Your organizations can also sign on by filling out this form.
March 31 marked International Day of Transgender Visibility. The CSA Leadership Team and JPIC Office joined other congregations across the country in supporting our trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive siblings by signing this statement honoring Trans Day of Visibility.
For others stirred to learn more, support or act, please consider the following:
Learn: Check if elected officials are attacking LGBTQ+ rights in your state legislature with this nationwide anti-trans bill tracker: Trans Legislation Tracker
Evaluate: Assess your religious community’s capacity to fully welcome trans folks, including internal attitudes, behaviors, policies, and having gender-neutral restrooms.
Act: Consider signing on as an individual, congregation or organization to the declaration: “Beloved by God”
On March 30, 2023, the Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development issued a joint statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” The USCCB added a statement in response to include saying, “We welcome the statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples, as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights.” The full statement can be found here.
CSA is proud to collaborate with Pilgrim United Church of Christ, the Alliance for Justice and Brothertown Indian Nation to bring a special Blanket Exercise to Fond du Lac, WI on Friday, April 21st from 5-8 pm at Pilgrim UCC. A blanket exercise is an experiential group activity that leads participants through 500+ years of Indigenous history that highlights the relationships with European explorers, colonial settlers, and the U.S. federal and state government. Participants will learn more about the Doctrine of Discovery and how the attack on indigenous culture has also affected the environment. Brothertown Indian Nation will be providing the meal and a free will offering will be taken. Registration is free, but space is limited.
Register here to participate: https://forms.gle/dS7FnM7dvAQXArPy5