A group of nuns from St. Louis were
among the first to protest the violence. At a time when church leaders were reluctant to address the treatment of Blacks in the South, these courageous women
defied authority to take their message to the
streets of Selma.
The sisters were
welcomed by the Black residents of Selma, due in large part to the decades
of bridge-building by sisters from Rochester, New York who had met their education and health care needs. The Archbishop of Mobile-Birmingham had
prohibited them from joining the marches, so they fed, housed, and cared for waves of
civil rights activists from elsewhere.
This is a story of
"aggiornamento," a word Pope John XXIII used to describe the "updating" of
societies resistant to change--and the story of the women who
took it upon themselves to become the agents of that change.
What did they change?
How were they themselves changed by the experience? Forty years later, the women reassess their roles in the Civil Rights Movement.