Hooray for Jackie Robinson! Activism and Volunteering

I had my first taste of “activism”–terribly naïve, but well-intentioned–when I wrote letters to “Dear Chairman Mao Tse-Tung,” the first on May 23, 1956, as well as letters in support of the Civil Rights Movement which absolutely captivated the attention of a few of my grammar school teachers, nuns, who gave me books to read. It was the year of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. I was 12 years old, living far away in Norwalk, Connecticut. Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s organization solicited letters of support from many churches, including our Catholic church. A few nuns were very active in asking for letters of support, but only from those who really believed in the cause. I learned so much from their attitude of not imposing their activism on others. Several of us jumped at the chance in addition to write letters to China to ask for the release of innocent prisoners. The nuns knew that letters had to be respectful but very definite in listing the names of the prisoners & stating in the opening that China’s government passed the deadline promised to release the prisoners. Then the rest of the letter appears to just kiss Chairman Mao’s ass, but maybe that is just diplomacy. The nuns encouraged us to write something original and brief. We wrote the letters very carefully in pen.

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