Linda Brown died last month. You might guess who she was because of the court case that bore her name. She was the young black student whose father attempted to enroll her in an all-white school in Topeka, Kansas, in the early 1950s.
The court case filed by families against the segregated Kansas public school system was Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka. That one made it to the top, to the Supreme Court, and changed many lives. Mine included.
I saw a photo of Linda in the New York Times sitting at a table by herself in elementary school. White children filled the table behind her. That photo made me wonder: If I had been a classmate of Linda’s would I have joined her table?
Would I have attempted to befriend her, to make her feel welcome in school during a time when race relations were roiling?
Would I have been as courageous as Linda, who entered an all-white public school to prove a point? Segregated schools were unfair. Black students traveled miles to attend a black school when a white school was around the corner.
Would you have been as brave as Linda?
We have many opportunities in our lives to act with courage: when we see a customer abuse a sales clerk or server; when we see people treat immigrants or new citizens without respect; when some go hungry while others eat with gusto.
We have many opportunities in our lives to act with courage and to correct small injustices.
We can correct our small transgressions. We can speak to a newcomer at church who is standing by herself at hospitality. We can phone a lonely, yet long-winded, acquaintance. We can hand a homeless person a dollar or donate to a worthy charity.
With pluck I could never muster, bold young girls and women, boys and men, too, are speaking up for gun control, addressing huge crowds as they advocate for laws that might save the lives of future students.
How do you do justice?
The Southwest California synodical women’s organization waged a Bread for the World letter-writing campaign recently urging their representatives in Congress to “protect funding for key programs that provide hope and opportunity for people living with hunger.”
Other Women of the ELCA synodical organizations are addressing human trafficking, visiting women in prison, creating clothing kits for rape victims and raising money for solar electricity for hospitals in Liberia.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
How do you “do justice?”
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA.