It is our mission as a Sacred Heart school to create a community of belonging, in which every person feels valued and respected, and that all persons are deserving of human dignity in God’s image. As a Catholic school and knowing the Church’s history steeped in systemic racism, we wrestle with the relationship between the Black Lives Matter movement and the principles of the Catholic Church. On Monday, February 7, Stuart hosted Olga M. Segura, author of “Birth of a Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church,” as the Women in Leadership speaker for social justice and our first speaker for the Black History Month series. Ms. Segura is a freelance writer and the opinion editor at National Catholic Reporter. In her book, Ms. Segura demonstrates how the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement and the church are intersected in many ways and therefore is presenting “a radical call to dignity and equality for all people.” Readers of all faiths “will gain insights and a deeper understanding of why [Black Lives Matter] can help the church, and the country, move closer to racial equality.”
In the daytime talk with Middle and Upper School students, Ms. Segura shared that she was called back to the Church in young adulthood after years of tension, feeling that she did not have a space as a person of color. As a writer and editor, she was empowered to use her voice to make “critical changes and have critical conversations.” As she shared with the parent group in the evening, she wanted to create a safe space for students to ask hard questions knowing they are the change makers we need in the future. “All it takes is someone to make them curious enough to not be scared to make space for these topics,” which is why it was critical to bring Ms. Segura to speak to our community.
Later that evening to the adult community, Ms. Segura made the distinction that her remarks that evening were intentionally more forceful, speaking on the history of racism in the church and how there are individual church leaders to this day who continue to perpetuate the harm of racism among people of color. If the Catholic social teaching principle of human dignity is that each of us is made in God’s image, why do people of color continue to feel unsafe and unwelcome? In reaffirming that that the work to end systemic racism is for all members of the community, she opened the door to White allies to join the movement: “If White allies - White Catholic allies- truly cared about solidarity, then you have to ask yourself: what am I willing to give up to center and uplift people of color?” Segura asserted there can be no path forward until church leaders repair the harm our church has caused and continues to cause Catholics of color. Segura closed by sharing three things that deepened her awareness and commitment to both her faith and the fight for a liberated world: learn from Church leaders of color and familiarize yourself with the BIPOC experience; follow organizers on social media and attend teaching events like this one; figure out creative ways to be Catholic organizers - whether it’s as a family or a student. It’s okay to not have something set in stone, but it is important to start. “The church will never be Christ-centered until everyone is liberated.”
The next event in the Black History Month series will take place, in person, on February 23 at 7 PM with Vivian Wu Wong. We will analyze the events of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and its connection to the development of the "model minority" myth and other steps enacted to create division and dismantle the progress of these movements.