Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, writes in his book An Ordinary Man, Words are the most powerful tools of all, and especially the words that we pass to those who come after us. In a speech at Wake Forest University on April 4, 2007, Mr. Rusesabagina reiterated this point. With that in mind, I agree with America’s recent Current Comment, Unrepentant Media (4/30), which appropriately speaks of the shallow moralism that drives media coverage of the news here in the United States. Lives, reputations, hopes for a future with truth and reconciliation are too often disrupted and sometimes even crushed by the irresponsible reporting and the inappropriate use of words that has become all too commonplace in the U.S. media today. I applaud America for asking the talking heads...to take a hard look at themselves and the harm wrought by today’s unaccountable journalism of personal destruction. Words are powerful tools! I implore the media to use these powerful tools more responsibly, and I thank the writers and editors of America for doing just that.
Michael Lorentsen, O.F.M.Conv.
The Of Many Things column by Jim McDermott, S.J. (4/9) was awesome. Having recently received a REJECTION notice from AMERICA because the editors are swamped by many submissions, which can be BORING yet worthy of the writer’s intent on sharing his/her FEELINGS on whatever topic deemed worthy to build up the BODY OF CHRIST, or to serve to build up the intellectual level of the medium. Drew Christiansen’s REJECTION letter was gentler than Bro. Mortimer F. X. Snerd, S.J., would write; but that must be because I am a Tribunal Judge and not a Jesuit Novice. Since I will soon retire, DO NOT offer me a job at AMERICA. I have other work to do solving the problems of the United States.
Your articles on racial integration (4/9, 4/16) brought to mind many valuable memories. I met Curtis Boddie during my freshman yearhis sophomore yearat Spring Hill College. I was a day student, and he had just moved into a dormitory.
I remember visiting the Mobile County reformatory with Curtis on an outreach to the young people there. In the fall of 1964, he was the first African-American to pay a social call on my parents and me. I was also participating in a biracial discussion group in an African-American neighborhood near the college, led by John F. Moore, S.J., like me a native Mobilian. Unlike Albert Foley, S.J., who was more involved in systemic change, Father Moore had young people of both races simply participating in opportunities to come to know one another better as people.
As a high school senior and a college freshman, I was well aware that the Jesuits were leading me, along with a number of other students, in a new direction for the South, a direction that encouraged individuals and small groups to share life in a Christian context as human beings. As a reporter for The Springhillian, I had the chance to interview Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the N.A.A.C.P., when he came to Mobile to reopen the chapter in the city.
The college’s approach to race might have been far from perfect, but this approach did open new doors for me and many others.
Donald A. Hawkins, S.J.
New Orleans, La.
I was a student at Spring Hill College from 1955 to 1958, during the time of adjustment to integration on the campus (A Quiet Change of Course, 4/9). I resided at the Jesuit house of studies on campus, taking the necessary philosophy courses while obtaining a degree in physics.
Here are some memories of integration on the Spring Hill College campus, and the cross-burning by the K.K.K. in particular. Before that event of January 1957, the integration on campus had gone peacefully. But the tension on campus was so thick you could feel it everywhere.
Much of the tension came from the students who lived at home in nearby Mobile (about half the student population). They were getting a lot of flak from Mobile residents about attending a n college. Everyone just knew that something would trigger an explosion, with who knew what consequences. Then the K.K.K. favored us with the cross-burning right outside a big campus dorm.
That was the best thing that could have happened! It united the campus as possibly nothing less could have done. Many, many students who were straddling the fence on the whole issue of campus integration came to an individual decision, which could be phrased: I still don’t know exactly where I stand on the issue, and I don’t know where we might be headed. But I do know that I, we, don’t want to take that route.
The tension was greatly relieved, and until my graduation in 1958 the campus stood united. No other major incident occurred.
(Rev.) John Koehler