Feb 10

Some Reflections on Being an Ally during Black History Month

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 02/10/2020 4:05PM | Quote of the Week | Civil Rights | Peacebuilding

Quote of The Week 2.10.20

Some Reflections on Being an Ally during Black History Month

Our Quote of the Week shows us how to confront the racism that has been in our culture for centuries, and that is increasingly visible in our communities and institutions right now. As we move through Black History Month, Sargent Shriver's words from 1963 provide an example as to how to be an ally in 2020.

This week's quote is from Sargent Shriver's Address to the Knights of Columbus in 1963. This is a fiery and at times confrontational speech that forces those listening to deal with their prejudices. Sarge challenges his white audience to confront the bigotry and xenophobia towards the diverse populations of Latin America. He does this for a very specific reason: to engage his audience in supporting his peacebuilding and development efforts with the Peace Corps.

Sargent Shriver was known to be a positive and optimistic leader. But we must remember that he also actively confronted some of the most difficult systemic issues of our society, including racism. As a white person with great influence, he wielded his privilege to empower our most vulnerable members of society.

Let us have the courage to speak out against hatred, no matter where we experience it--particularly if we are white. Let us be allies to our brothers and sisters of color. And let us find strength in the fact that more and more of us are waking up to the injustices that occurring around us. As Sargent Shriver said to the Knights of Columbus: "We must uncover the vitality, energy and strength necessary to shape this hemisphere’s destiny." Indeed, we must do it for the destiny of our world.

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