1 Comment » Written on January 19th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Pastor Catherine Gilliard co-pastors New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia.


selma movieselmatomontgomerymarch

I recently went to see the movie Selma and it is a must see! I find it particularly timely in how it reminds us that the issues that were being confronted over 50 years ago have ignited many of the non-violent protests that are going on today. The injustices that were being addressed in the film are intricately woven into every fabric of society. So I wondered, as I watched the Selma movie, how an African American woman film director did so little to highlight the contributions of women foot soldiers in the Selma movement. Diane Nash is mentioned but in scene after scene she is shown listening to the debate. Her leadership is ignored and silenced and with it another opportunity for a new generation of women to witness how women in our past have risen to give leadership in how we fight the injustices that need our voices.

Our church is going to go and see this movie together and it will add to the discussion we are having in one of our current Wednesday evening offerings on ‘How Faith Shapes Social Justice Movements’ and to our larger discussion about what a justice movement is really about. Activists in justice ministries understand our mission is not centered on acts of compassion or the extension of mercy, which are all embedded within justice ministry. Our mission in justice ministries is about dismantling praxis and systems that deny people access to the resources that allow them to live meaningful lives that give witness to the faithfulness of God. Any movement that is not Christ centered and does not force us to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power and direction is already doomed to mischaracterization and our marginalization of the other.

So I am troubled that in 2015, we still tell the stories of justice movements without the voices of women leaders. Watching this film we saw the relentless courage of one woman Annie Mae Cooper and the tension of youth leaders of SNCC but the silence of the voices of women leaders, were strategic in the planning of this and other movements was a real problem for me. Those of us who know our history must remind others involved in justice movements of the contributions of women leaders like Coretta Scott King, Juanita Abernathy, Viola Liuzzo, and Jean Childers Young, who had to listen to death threats, survive home bombings, endure infidelity, care for and leave children to be on the front lines of protest. These women offered their leadership to a movement that changed the world.

The current hashtag movement can be one way we bring social media into our conversation. We have seen how the simple use of #blacklivesmatter, #shebuilds, and #occupy have highlighted the plight of victims affected by abuse of power and the marginalization of targeted people in society. I wonder what list we can generate in our constant struggle have the voices of women who have contributed leadership to the rest of the story of history that needs to be told. Which woman’s voice do we need to know about as we educate ourselves about the contribution of women leaders who have shaped, or are currently on the front lines of a movement of justice. I’ve listed a few of these women in this blog and can add Dolores Huerta, Ella Baker, Evelyn Lowery and Marva Collins to my list. Who’s on your #womenyouneedtoknow list?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

One Response to “#womenyouneedtoknow”

Yes! We too will see the movie together as a church Catherine.  Thank you for clearly emphasizing the focus we have as justice activists.  It is often a well worn tool of dominance to water down, soften or even ignore that “Our mission in justice ministries is about dismantling praxis and systems that deny people access to the resources that allow them to live meaningful lives that give witness to the faithfulness of God.”  
As anthropologists have documented for many many years now, social change comes from women.  This has been true in every culture and group.  Patriarchy is very important to maintaining status quo.  And there are so many many good brothers who stand alongside us to bring about a world without gender bias praise God.
I’m working on my list of names… 🙂 Starting with Catherine Gilliard, Debbie Blue, Valeyo Garret Anna Marie Peterson, Illeana Garcia Soto, Phyllis Shepard, Ekatarina Kozlova, Eva Sullivan Knoff, Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom and so many more….

Report This Comment

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog