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Office of Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation, Advisory Board
Notes from The OPJCC Director

March 14, 2019

March is Women’s History Month
This article is the second part in a series honoring women.

Emily Greene Balch (1867-1961) founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She was an important woman advocate for peace during WWI and WWII and a 1947 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Teacher, patent clerk and a nurse during the Civil War, Clara Barton (1821-1912) founded the American Red Cross and served as its first president.

Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was a computer scientist and Navy rear admiral. She played an integral role in creating programs for some of the world’s first computers.

After observing an accident at a textile mill at the age of 12, Margaret Knight (1838-1914) invented a device that would automatically stop a machine if something got caught in it. By the time she was a teenager the invention was being used in the mills.

On March 31, 1888, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe and Sojourner Truth, among others, organized The National Council of Women of the U.S. It is the oldest non-sectarian women’s organization in the U.S.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

February 28, 2019

March is Women’s History Month
(This article is part one of two honoring women.)

S. Mary Antona Ebo, FSM (1924–2017) attracted national attention as the first black nun among the group of six who marched in Selma, Alabama, on March 10, 1965. Her famous words: “I am here because I am a Negro, a nun, a Catholic and because I want to bear witness” marked the beginning of her career as a civil rights advocate. In 1967 she became the first African-American woman religious administrator of a Catholic hospital. She helped found and is past president of the National Black Sisters’ Conference.

Paiute author, activist and educator, Sarah Winnemucca (1844–1891) was one of the most influential and charismatic American-Indian women in U.S. history. Having a great facility with languages, she served as an interpreter and negotiator between her people and the U.S. Army.

Virginia Apgar, MD (1909–1974), obstetrical anesthesiologist, developed the Apgar Score, whose five items help physicians and nurses to determine if a newborn requires emergency care. The score is now standard worldwide.

What usually amazes people most about prolific woman inventor Temple Grandin is not all the great strides she has made to improve animal-handling devices, nor the fact that she earned a Ph.D. in animal science and became a world-renowned teacher and speaker. Instead, what usually amazes people most about Dr. Grandin is that she accomplished all this while living with autism.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman physician in the U.S. in 1849. She opened a clinic in a low-income area in New York City and trained women in medicine. Blackwell was prominent in the emerging women’s rights movement.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

February 14, 2019

February is Black History Month
(This is the second part of a series honoring several of our sisters and brothers.)

Marian Wright Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She dedicated her early career to defending the civil liberties of people struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination. She is president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Runaway slave from Maryland, Harriet Tubman (1822–1913) became known as the “Moses of her people.” Over the course of 10 years, and at great personal risk, she led hundreds of slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses where runaway slaves could stay on their journey north to freedom.

Scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor George Washington Carver (1860-1943) is one of the most celebrated and respected scientists in U.S. history. His important discoveries and methods enabled farmers through the south and Midwest to become profitable.

MaVynee Betsch (1935-2005) was an environmental activist known as “The Beach Lady” for her tireless conservation efforts on behalf of Florida’s coastal environment. She was raised in luxury but gave away her entire fortune to environmental causes. In 2005, Betsch was posthumously honored as an Unsung Hero of Compassion by the Dalai Lama.

Considered one of the mothers of black feminist writing, Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) was born a slave and escaped to become an abolitionist writer and speaker. Her reflections on motherhood, woman-ness and sexism blazed trails for many that came after her.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

January 31, 2019

February is Black History Month

This is part one of two honoring several of our sisters and brothers:

Born to former slaves, Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950) became a distinguished author, editor, publisher, and historian. He established Negro History Week in 1926, which we now celebrate as Black History Month every February.

St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once Josephine was freed, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting those who were suffering and living in poverty. Her Feast Day is Feb. 8.

In 1992, Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. During her eight-day mission she worked with U.S. and Japanese researchers and was a co-investigator on a bone cell experiment.

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (1892-1926) was a U.S. civil aviator. She was the first female pilot of African-American descent and the first person of African-American descent to hold an international pilot license.

Inventor and draftsman, Lewis Latimer (1848-1928) invented an important part of the light bulb - the carbon filament. Latimer worked in the laboratories of both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.

Patricia Bath, ophthalmologist and inventor, received a patent for a method of removing cataract lenses that transformed eye surgery by using a laser device, making the procedure more accurate.

Inventor, business man and community leader, Garrett Morgan (1877-1963) invented the first traffic signal and founded a weekly Cleveland newspaper.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Nelson Mandela

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

January 17, 2019

A Martin Luther King Day is January 21, 2019.

The following is a moving excerpt from “Standing in the Need of Prayer” by Coretta Scott King:

For my husband, Martin Luther King Jr., prayer was a daily source of courage and strength that gave him the ability to carry on in even the darkest hours of our struggle. I remember one very difficult day when he came home bone-weary from the stress that came with his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In the middle of that night, he was awakened by a threatening and abusive phone call, one of many we received throughout the movement. On this particular occasion, however, Martin had had enough.

After the call, he got up from bed and made himself some coffee. He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: “Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”

Later he told me, “At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: ‘Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.’” When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.

The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

January 3, 2019

A Jan. 6-12, 2019 is National Migration Week. The Catholic Church in the United States encourages us to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The 2019 theme Building Communities of Welcome “draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past. Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.”

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. According to End Slavery Now, “The most vulnerable people of human trafficking in our world today are refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons. They are often forced out of their homes with no identification documents and often travel to countries where they do not know the language. Human traffickers are known to wait for desperate and vulnerable migrants at the destination country and then exploit them upon arrival.”

Pope Francis has commended the approval of the Agenda 2030, with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDGs include the adoption of immediate and effective means for eradicating forced labor, putting an end to modern forms of slavery and human trafficking, and ensuring the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking suggests that ending slavery is everyone’s work. If you wish to learn more or to take action to end human trafficking, go to: sistersagainsttrafficking.org/take-action/opportunities-for-action/.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director