September 13, 2012
By Sister Rose Marie T.
The streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, were bustling during the Democratic National Convention like I’ve never seen before.
Street vendors, street preachers, street protests, street artists, streets blocked, streets guarded by police, street advocates looking for signatures on petitions, streets full of reporters looking for stories, streets full of walking people, some with delegate IDs.
Thousands of people, a lot of them like me, were here during the convention to raise awareness on an issue or a cause.
I began working with NC Stop prior to the convention to educate area hotel staffs about human trafficking, a crime that increases during large conventions and sporting events. I also was invited to join a committee to plan events promoting Catholic social justice teachings during the days of the convention. Many organizations planned events during the DNC, including some by the faith community.
Two events especially addressed the Sisters of Mercy’s critical concern of immigration. When the Undocubus, a bus tour of undocumented immigrants, arrived in Charlotte during the Convention, the Sisters of Mercy provided two lunches for them. Saint Peter’s Catholic Church hosted a showing of Gospel Without Borders the same day. This DVD, produced by the Baptist Ethics Center, features Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, working with the Latino Catholic community for immigration reform. The diverse panel and audience discussion were inspiring.
Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, a block from the convention center, where the convention was held, also hosted a number of other presentations related to Catholic social justice teachings.
Sister Simone Campbell and her NETWORK staff presented a workshop on Mending the Gap, which addresses the increasing wealth disparities in the United States. An interfaith panel of ministers shared their understanding of how faith influences our decisions about political issues. The ministers spoke of faith’s role in transforming ourselves and thus society into the Kingdom of God so as “to bring glad tidings to the poor…proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”(Lk 4:18) A play from the Jesuit Refugee Services told the stories of refugees around the world.
Most inspirational to me was the small committee of dedicated laypeople who worked prior to the convention and who took vacation days during the convention to make these presentations possible. Members of this committee even sat outside the church under a justice banner to interact with the delegates passing by. I was privileged to be a member of this committee.