About two years ago, I picked up this book on a deal from the bargain bookshelf. I am predisposed to read biographies and so it was a no-brainer to add Open Wide the Freedom Gates – A Memoir by Dorothy Height (wikipedia) to my bookshelf.
With current media coverage of tension (racial, political, and otherwise), twitter quoting of leaders and spiritual doctrine, and a seemingly lack of cross-cultural discourse, the complete testimony of a trusted individual from a time of strife is both timely and poignant. While Dr. Height was involved in some of the most prominent events of the civil rights movement in America, it was a small localized program that she launched and designed that stood out to me in light of our current times.
Wednesdays in Mississippi was a project during the summer of 1964 that set out to demonstrate that women of good will, white and black, northern and southern, Christian and Jewish, could come together to quell violence, ease tensions, and inspire tolerance in racially torn communities. The goals of the project included establishing lines of communication among women of goodwill across regional and racial lines, and to lend a “ministry of presence” as witness to encourage compassion and reconciliation.
Through this and other programs, Dr. Height actively worked toward bringing people together and leveraging areas of softness in people to open their eyes to the truth. It seems that we might need a similar agent of goodwill today. In the meantime I wonder what each of us can do to create spaces that would quell violence, ease tensions, and inspire tolerance, as we move towards a complete expression of love.