Personal stories can make history come alive and stir us to action

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Struggle for Voting Rights: Why Stories Matter
During this month of August, three dates stand out as the United States has been commemorating events of historic significance in the struggles for both women’s rights and racial justice and equality. They include the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote (August 18),  the 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent discriminatory voting requirements that especially targeted African Americans  (August 6), and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech (August 28).  In today’s link, Susan Bailey, writing for Girl w/ Pen, tells how, as a young child,  she met Miss Fulton, a woman in her seventies who told her stories from her own life and thereby taught Susan lessons her history books did not—stories about women’s struggle to vote and the struggles of black people for equal rights.  She remembers especially Miss Fulton’s words, “Change comes hard, child, very hard,” and sees its reality in so much that is happening right now.

Related: For a helpful review illustrating the truth of the statement that ”change comes hard,” look over this useful timeline about the Civil Rights era from 1941 to the present, and this summarized history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  See also two videos (or read the transcripts) from the August 23, 2013 edition of the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. One includes the efforts of a group of  Christian ministers in Florida  who see racial justice, equality, and reconciliation as a religious issue and are working together to bring about.  The other video is an extended interview with Rev. Vincent Harding, who had worked closely with Martin Luther King.  Harding  says we must remember this: “The anniversary that we celebrate is not the anniversary of a speech, but the anniversary of a very important point in history when black people were leading a movement to expand democracy, to deepen democracy, and to make democracy more faithful to its own sayings.”  (Pastor Harding was one of the presenters at the Wild Goose Festival highlighted by Marg Herder for her recent reports on our Christian Feminism Today website.)

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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