ANTI-RACISM PROJECT | Can you tell your story in six words?
We imagined the six words that Bob and Helen Singleton might be tempted to use, if they were asked to tell their story today. In the images on the left, they are young civil rights activists, booked by police for their part as Freedom Riders, a group of 400 volunteers who took turns riding interstate public buses throughout the South to collectively resist the status quo of racial inequality. Specifically, they tested the enforcement of a 1960 Supreme Court ruling that the segregation of interstate passengers was not legal. They were met with hate and violence at stops along their journey. In the image on the right, Dr. Singleton, now a professor emeritus in the Department of Economics at LMU, and Helen, his partner in life, love, and justice for all these years.
The two of them will share their stories and wisdom with LMU students as part of the 2020-21 Bellarmine Forum, “Building Transformative Justice Where We Stand.” They will also be honored with LMU’s President’s Award, the university’s highest honor for those who have made a profound and enduring contribution to the greater good of society (on March 16, 5-6 p.m., details to come).
The story of six words is said to have started with a challenge to Ernest Hemingway to write a story in only six words. He accepted by writing, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The mantle of the six-word story was then taken up by Larry Smith, founder of SMITH Magazine, in 2006, when he gave the six-word novel a personal twist by asking his community to describe their lives in exactly six words. Since then, the Six-Word Memoir project has become a global phenomenon.
In support of LMU’s Anti-Racism Project, “In Six Words” will get to the heart of our community’s struggles and fight against the unjust and unequal experiences that plague our society, in hopes of sparking conversation, understanding, and empathy, as well as further igniting our desire to become better angels. Also, the virtual forum next week, “Truth and Reconciliation: The Sin of Jesuit Slaveholding” (Thursday, Feb. 4, from 4-5:30 p.m.), will raise awareness about our complicity in slavery and subsequent efforts to engage in reconciliation, as part of the story of Jesuit institutions in the United States. Looking at our own history, becoming aware of all our stories, is not just a personal act, but a collective responsibility as well.
How can you get involved? Join us for the Virtual Forum. Listen to the stories of others (see the KaleidoLA Speaker Series in CFA, for example). Go to an event to honor Black History Month (see the calendar here). And tell your own six-word story.
Here are some examples of six-word stories:
In honor of Black History Month, we invite our Black faculty, staff, and student community to share their six-word story around the Black experience. For allies, please feel free to submit your six-word story on any of the following topics as they pertain to your Black colleagues and friends: racism, fighting racism, allyship, xenophobia, hope, sexism, pride, feminism, homophobia, the immigrant experience, religious persecution, religious freedom, unity.
What will your six-word story be? Submit it here.