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The Unity March for Equality

Note: Sister Donna Butler attended the Unity March for Equality – along with Sister Barbara Battista and Sister of Providence postulant Tracey Horan – on Saturday, Dec. 13. Participants marched through downtown Terre Haute during the peaceful demonstration.

The following is what Sister Donna had to say after the march:

Sister Donna Butler and postulant Tracey Horan hold a Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sign during the Unity March for Equality on Saturday, Dec. 13. The photo was taken by Sister Barbara Battista.

Sister Donna Butler and postulant Tracey Horan hold a Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sign during the Unity March for Equality on Saturday, Dec. 13. The photo was taken by Sister Barbara Battista.

Before the march was announced in the newspaper, I was longing to show visible solidarity with those who were visioning a world devoid of racial profiling. While I could sign petitions, I really wanted to be part of a visible, nonviolent protest of the current systemic injustice and to demonstrate that black lives do matter. Thanks to First Free Will Baptist Church and Wes TC variety for organizing the march.

It was good to walk with people of all ages, ordinary people, joining together across the racial divide to express that we are one family. We proclaimed, “No justice, no peace,” and sang songs of unity and hope for the future. It was a seed planted to begin an ongoing conversation and relationship.

Familiar with other aspects of the criminal justice system like solitary confinement, the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex and the death penalty, I know there is a whole array of unjust practices. These practices – especially, though not exclusively – affect the black community. Out of 324 innocent people released from death row, 295 were African Americans. (Statistic from “The Innocence Project”).

I would highly recommend two books: Michelle Alexander’s, “The New Jim Crow,” for a better understanding of how the criminal justice system impacts civil rights on a long-term basis.

The second book, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” an autobiography by Harriet Jacobs, demonstrates the brutal and devastating effect of slavery on every aspect of human life.

While I know that people of all races commit crimes, the history of slavery in this country strongly impacts even today how people of color and people with white privilege interact and view one another.

I fantasize about how different it would be if those of us who are white would wake up one morning to find ourselves people of color.

I believe we would suddenly find people treating us in a radically different manner.

I believe our understanding of issues would change dramatically.

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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4 Comments

  1. Tracey Horan on December 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for your reflections, Donna. I agree that it was an important start to an ongoing conversation. Since this day, the refrain “I’m not free ’till we’re all free” has also been echoing in my head. Thanks for your leadership in this effort!

    • Donna Butler on December 22, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Tracey,
      Thank you and I hope you will write your thoughts too.

  2. Marsha Speth, SP on December 20, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Great picture! Thank you for representing those of us who couldn’t be there.

  3. Ann Clem on December 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    So true! I, especially, like the 3rd to last line of the article. How would you be treated and feel about it?

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