I wish people wouldn’t be scared of mental illness and it wouldn’t be such a touchy topic to discuss. I want girls and boys around the world to know that they are not alone whatsoever, and mental illness is just a bump in the road.
Courtney is just like any other high school student. She gets excited about dances and cherishes time with friends. She also has her own unique set of challenges.
Courtney lives with anxiety and depression. She may struggle sometimes, but she has learned that those things don’t define her.
I do have the power to overcome anxiety and depression, but there will be times when it comes out of nowhere and I have to deal with it.
I had the opportunity to chat with this beautiful young lady and it occurred to me: We could all learn a thing or two from Courtney.
You have had a bit of a rough road to travel these past couple of years. Can you talk about some of the struggles you have had and where you are at now?
I have always struggled with insecurity in myself, my life, the ones around me, and the world. I used to be so uneasy with who I was. I didn’t know when a panic attack would arise, and I began to feel so out of control. I would starve myself because that’s the only control I felt like I had in my life. I would think about ending things because everyday seemed to be less and less “real.” But the depression, eating disorder, and anxiety was more real than anything. I actually became so comfortable with my mental illness, I didn’t want it to go. I would run away from things that made me feel loved or worthy because all I knew at that time was hurtful words about myself. Sometimes still today, I just get so lost in my own thoughts that I feel like I lose track of reality. I used to get so frustrated with who I was becoming and why the anxious thoughts would never go away. Still today, anxiety is my go-to…but it’s different. I hear what anxiety or depression has to say. I will admit that sometimes it does overcome me, and I start to panic and I feel like the world is collapsing. But nowadays, there is so many more good days than bad ones. I have been able to see anxiety as separate from myself, me and anxiety are no longer the same person. Anxiety is not a part of me whatsoever. Instead of seeing mental illness as the enemy, I see it as bittersweet sometimes. It can really hurt me and the ones around me, but I have become so much stronger in who I am as a person and what I want to do in my life. Without all of the struggling years, I don’t think I would be who I was made to be.
What gets you through the rough days?
Last April, I got “saved” which is basically saying that I surrendered my life to The Lord. He has worked through and in me so much, exposing me to so many different seasons of life. I hold all of my hope and trust in Him on my bad days, with the peace that He is always at work in my life.
Also, without my mom I don’t think I would be the woman I am today. She has never given up on me, she provides me with the love that I sometimes cannot give to myself. She can see all of my flaws and insecurities, and still let me know that I mean so much to this world. She has shown me what I want to become some day, completely selfless and loving with the knowledge that I might not be loved in return. She has shown me what hope and love really is; she is the fighter, not me.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Now what are your plans?
When I was little, I wanted to be a scientist. Now, I want to work with psychology.
What is the best song to sing in the shower?
The best song to sing in the shower would be “Brand New” by Ben Rector.
What is the best piece of advice you have heard? What was the worst?
The best advice that I have been given is “stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it.” This piece of advice has changed my point of view on a lot of things. For some strange reason, I keep going back to the same thing or person hoping that this time around it will be different, but it never is. Looking for happiness in something that stole it from you will never suddenly change.
The worst advice I have been given is “just try to ignore it.” Whether “it” be anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder, telling someone to ignore it will only make the thoughts become bigger and stronger; you should never ignore what you’re afraid of.
It is Mental Health Awareness month. What is something you wish people understood about you and your journey?
I wish people wouldn’t be scared of mental illness and it wouldn’t be such a touchy topic to discuss. Today mental illness is more popular than ever. I want the world to be open to talking about it for what it is, a disorder, not some sickening disease. I want girls and boys around the world to know that they are not alone whatsoever, and mental illness is just a bump in the road. Personally, I wish people would understand that sometimes I can’t be like them. Some days I just can’t go up to a new person and say hello, and sometimes I just have to be quiet. I want people to understand what people suffering with mental illness go through, and understand that some days they just can’t do some things, and that’s okay. You might be laughing at one moment, then crying in the next, but you’re not a freak for that happening. I do have the power to overcome anxiety and depression, but there will be times when it comes out of nowhere and I have to deal with it. I want mental illness to no longer have the stigma of being weak or “walking on eggshells.” People need to treat someone with mental illness the same, but with the knowledge that they can’t do everything perfectly.
If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?
If I could have coffee with one woman, I would have it with a woman who I met in my IOP treatment. She was a lot older than me, and she did suffer from anxiety and depression, but she would always look at me and tell me that I have so much ahead of me. I saw her a few months after I graduated the program, and she just smiled at me because she was so proud of where I was. I didn’t get to know her that much, but I want to know what she’s been through and how she got through everything.
Who is your favorite Disney princess?
I’m not a huge Disney fan, so I asked my friend (who loves Disney stuff) which princess I would be most like. She said Merida from Brave, so I decided to look her up and see what she’s like. Merida is described as “impetuous girl who wants to take control of her own destiny.” It also says that she is “stubborn” and “does not fit the stereotypical princess role.” Just these three descriptions make me think of myself, because I sure am stubborn and I seem to feel like an outcast a lot of the time. I’ve noticed that people tend to glance over the ones that are “outcasts” or “different,” and I have been that one the whole time. But, it is honestly really cool that Disney would take the time to make a character similar to someone like me. Merida is a princess who doesn’t look like a typical princess, and I think she would be my favorite because she reminds me of myself.
What is your definition of beauty? Or, when do you feel most beautiful?
I think beauty is when someone can hold confidence in themselves and who they are as a person. Whenever I see beautiful girls, I look at them with so much jealousy and desire, and I end up feeling less of a person than them. Telling yourself that you are less than someone else is not going to get you anywhere except to a place of insecurity and self-hatred. Still today, I struggle with feeling beautiful in my own skin. I look at other girls and I start to become incredibly negative. Beauty doesn’t mean that you have to love what you see when you look in the mirror, but it is when you realize that you’re not what those girls look like, but you are something. Personally, the last time I felt truly beautiful was on a late night car ride with the music loud and my friends beside me. Although I was not looking in the mirror at the time, I felt alive and happy. I was so happy in that moment, and I never wanted it to end because everything around me was so perfect. Beauty isn’t always loving what you see in the mirror; it’s being able to look in the mirror and just see YOU.
It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I am excited to feature one of the most beautiful teachers I know! Not only does she dedicate her time to helping each of her students reach their full potential, she spends her “extra” time giving even more– from pit bull rescue to Challenger Baseball, this lady is spreading love and beauty all over the place!
Who you are: Maureen Smith
What you do: First Grade Teacher by profession, giving my time and money to great causes by choice!
Where you do it: Rockwood School District
You are a first grade teacher by day, pit bull rescuer and Challenger baseball organizer by night. Tell me a bit about what led you to where are now. What challenges have you faced along the way?
St. Louis Challenger Baseball started on the 2nd date I had with my (now husband), Buck. He talked about the league he started here in St. Louis and I was happy to come see what it was all about. After the first summer of watching from the sidelines, I jumped right in to be a coach the following summer and have been for 12 years now.
Pit Bull Rescuing came a little later, after my husband and I were married and adopted our first rescued pit bull, Sally, in 2009. We were hooked and can’t imagine our lives without her. I work locally with Even Chance Pit Bull Rescue, Stray Rescue (walking dogs when I can), the Humane Society of the United States as an Animal Rescue Volunteer. I have been deployed with them 5X to Florida and Tennessee to volunteer taking care of pit bulls who have been in dog fighting situations.
Challenges for all of these are TIME! I always wish I had more of it. Space in our home is getting to be a little more complex with Challenger and fostering puppies for Even Chance…there is always a lot of stuff.
It is National Teacher Appreciation Week. What do you want people to know about the real life of teachers?
We only want what is best for every single student in our classrooms and beyond. We are only one person and we try our best to meet every need for every child, every day.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I always wanted to perform. I know in 6th grade I had a teacher who totally understood my passion, maybe because of his own love of the stage (he had a Bluegrass band). He was always asking me and my friends to “rehearse” our latest skit, and he let us “perform” in front of the class many times that year. We even had costumes for our performances. My favorite was dressing like Pinky Tuscadero and the Pinkettes from Happy Days! I was hooked! I also babysat a lot and that probably molded my decision to “act” in front of kids.
You have “Drama Queen” signs all over your room. But you are probably the least “drama” filled person I have met. Am I missing something??
I guess now look at the answer to question #2. I LOVE being on stage and performing, either in plays or musicals or choirs. I have always been a ham, had the gift of gab (my mom is from Ireland) and find teaching the best place to perform improv on a daily basis. One day I hope to be performing in a Broadway show…
What is the best piece of advice you have heard?
My husband always says: never pass up a chance to give. He is right. We live our lives that way. That is definitely why we started Got Your Back Pack in Rockwood.
What was the worst? Do not major in musical theater in college, that is a waste! Choose Accounting.
If you could have coffee with any woman, past or present, who would it be and what one question would you ask?
Princess Diana. I would ask, “Have you always had the passion and drive to help others or did someone influence you to make that your legacy as a member of the royal family?”
What is your definition of beauty? When do you feel the most beautiful?
Doing things for others…I wish outer beauty was not so much of our daily lives, but sadly it is. I feel the most beautiful when I sing and hit the right harmony and notes.
When I was in high school I was worrying about who to go to Prom with and if I would ever get my toe-touch (I never did).
These ladies are building. frickin. robots.
Who you are: Catherine Colletti and Joey Schmaltz
What you do: members of the FTC Robotics team, The Quarks 3591
Where you do it: Eureka High School
What drew you to robotics? What do you love about it and what are the biggest challenges?
Catherine: I thought robotics would be a lot of fun and I would get a chance to learn a lot about engineering, plus I have been doing robotics of some sort since I was in 4th grade and I wanted to continue in high school. I love it because I get to apply what I learn in class about engineering to a real purpose. It is super exciting and there are so many different things we can do when we design our robot. The biggest challenge would be when the robot or the programming or the wiring is not working the way it is supposed to. Also, since this is a team effort, we have to make sure we work together well and consider the ideas of all team members.
Joey: My entire family is made up of engineers and I felt like joining something that would give me an opportunity to be around things where the main focus is engineering would just bring me closer to my family as well as to some of my friends that were already on the team when I joined. I love the team aspect of robotics, we (all 13 of us) act like a BIG family and we may have some “sibling” bickering and not getting along just like a real family does but we all love each other at the end of the day. The biggest challenge was probably the communication within the team. The team has one large group chat with everyone plus some in it and that can get out of hand sometimes and then there is also the face to face communication that didn’t always happen or if it did hardly anyone was participating in the discussion.
What accomplishment (within robotics or otherwise) are you most proud of?
Catherine: The Quarks received the Think Award, the award for the top engineering notebook, at the Missouri State Competition this year. This then qualified us to compete at the North Super Regionals, which was a really cool opportunity.
Joey: I was really proud of our team making it to super regionals, especially since this was my first year in robotics it was just awesome! Personal wise, I had brain surgery in 2013 so that’s kinda cool that I’m better now.
What are your plans for the future?
Catherine: First, I want to finish high school. 🙂 After that, I am looking to go to college for engineering, most likely Materials Engineering.
Joey: 100% honest here- I’ve no idea, but I’ve got a while to figure that one out
If you could have coffee with any woman, historical or living, who would it be and why?
Catherine: I would talk to Marie Curie because I love chemistry and would be interested in her discoveries of two elements.
Joey: The inspiration for the Mona Lisa, so that I could ask her what her name is and who does her eyebrows so that I can arrest them for theft
Fun question: M&Ms– plain or peanut? (or pretzel, or crispy, or peanut butter…)
Catherine: The original M&Ms, or peanut butter. Both are amazing.
Joey: Pretzel, is there even any other kind?
What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?
Catherine: I don’t really have a favorite. It’s generally whatever song I have stuck in my head at the moment or is on the radio.
Joey: I’m really bad at remembering lyrics to usually I just hum the tune of what ever songis stuck in my head and it mixed with 4 other songs and until you can no longer tell what genre it was even from to begin with
What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?
Catherine: The best two pieces of advice I have received are to (1) not worry about other people and do what makes you happy, and (2) aim high because even if you don’t do what you aim to, you’ll still end up doing something great. The worst piece of advice I have received is “just do what everyone else is doing”
Joey: The best was only you can take away your happiness, and the worst was when my uncle told me that doing a belly flop off a diving board wouldn’t hurt at all
What books or TV shows do you think everyone needs to read/watch, like, right now?
Catherine: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a must-read.
Joey: It depends on what you like, but if you really wanted a recommendation list, I have one about a mile long (which is not as long as my to-read list)
What is your definition of beauty? When/where do you feel most beautiful?
Catherine: A person who is beautiful is someone who has a presence that just seems to glow because you can tell that they are happy and confident and they seem to spread that happiness wherever they go. I feel the most beautiful when I am around my family or friends doing something I enjoy.
Joey: Beauty is something that someone achieves when they are completely immersed in whatever they enjoy doing the most or when they feel the most loved or confident. I feel beautiful when I’m reading or drawing, or surrounded by people that love me for who I am, not who they want me to be, like my family and friends.
She has been called an icon, a trailblazer, and a hero. I call her beautiful.
A rough childhood
Sister Ebo was born Elizabeth Louise (she was called Betty Lou) on April 10, 1924. Her mother taught her about God and had her baptized in the Baptist church. Elizabeth’s mom passed away when Elizabeth was just 4 years old, and her father lost his job as a library janitor shortly after. Unable to keep their home in Bloomington, Illinois, Elizabeth’s father put her and her two siblings in McLean County Home for Colored Children. In the home, a boy nicknamed “Bishop” was the first to expose Elizabeth to Catholicism. He wasn’t allowed to openly practice his faith in the home, but that didn’t stop him. One day, he and Elizabeth were sent on an errand to pick up some day old bread. On the way, he slipped into a Catholic church, knelt at the Communion rail, and prayed. Sister Ebo recalls:
He was longing for his church. I cased the joint, and it was beautiful. The sun was shining that day through the stained glass windows and I knew all those stories. I was interested in everything in that church…Bish was explaining while he knelt at the Communion rail about this little house (tabernacle) where Jesus was kept, and that the bread became Jesus during the words in Scripture–that was the difference… I had already joined the Baptist Church and only had Communion the first Sunday of te month, and it was cracker crumbs and grape juice…Communion in the Catholic Church becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and nobody else was telling me that.
It was on that day, at the tender age of 9, that Elizabeth knew she would be Catholic one day.
As a child, Elizabeth battled tuberculosis in her thumb and was in and out of the hospital for treatment. While in the hospital, Elizabeth asked nurse Mary Southwick if a visiting priest could come by her room. The priest and nurse would become a pivotal figures in Elizabeth’s life, teaching her about Catholicism, and later helping her get into Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bloomington.
The children’s home where Elizabeth had been staying did not welcome her back once she decided to join the Catholic Church. As a result, she was sent to live with a couple of older African-American women, where she stayed until she finished high school. She was the first African American to graduate from her high school.
She recalls her experiences with segregation:
Segregation for us was like going to Woolworth’s and ordering a hamburger. At that time, if you went with a white friend, they would bring it to you on a plate. If you went by yourself, the order was packaged in a brown to-go bag. Known as ‘the brown bag treatment,’ that was to let me know that they didn’t serve colored (people) in that store.
Starting her career
After graduating high school, Elizabeth wanted to attend a Catholic nursing school, but was rejected because of her race. She remembers, “They told me they had never admitted a colored girl before.” School officials didn’t talk to her about her previous studies or her academic capabilities, but rather focused on the color of her skin. It was experiences like this that Sister Ebo remembers as “bruises” that she carried with her throughout life.
She entered the United States Cadet Nurse Corps at St Mary’s Infirmary in 1942. It was a three year program designed to train replacements for volunteer nurses who were serving in the war. She remembers these days and nights as “hectic. Maybe you would get a nap in, and the rest of the time you were either on duty or in a classroom.”
In 1946, Elizabeth was one of the first three African American women to enter the Sisters of St. Mary in St Louis (now the Franciscan Sisters of Mary); she became Sister Mary Antona. In 1962 she earned her degree in medical records administration from St Louis University. In the early 60s Sister Antona served as the assistant administrator of St Mary Infirmary, and she was given the position of Director of Medical Records in 1965. At that time, she was the first black supervisor ever to be in charge of any department at St. Mary’s.
Sister heads to Selma
Sister Antona always listened to her employees, and the Monday morning of March 8th, 1965 was no different. She listened as her employees talked about what had happened in Selma the previous day, on what would become known as Bloody Sunday. She listened as they told her about the protesters who were attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in order to call attention to voting discrimination that was rampant in the area. Marchers were brutally attacked by police, and several were hospitalized. She remembers her first thought as being, “If I wasn’t in this habit, I would be down there with my people.” Little did she know, she would soon have her chance.
Despite her initial gusto, Sister Ebo had her doubts about going to Alabama. Firstly, she was in her 40s and busy running the medical records department at St Mary’s. Besides, she knew how the protesters had been treated on Bloody Sunday, and she had heard about people like Emmet Till, a 14 year old black boy who was murdered in 1955 in Mississippi for reportedly flirting with a white woman. In Selma, a young white minister had been beaten along with the other marchers. She thought if they could do that to him, what would they do to her? She also knew that if she or any of her friends from the St Louis group were arrested, she would be segregated from them in jail. “If they get arrested, they’ll be together. If I get arrested, I’ll be alone.”
What she may not have known was that Selma was the headquarters of the White Citizen’s Council. The council was bent on maintaining white supremacy, but in a more “genteel” fashion than their friends in the Klu Klux Klan. Their unofficial motto was, “Why burn a cross, when you can foreclose a mortgage?”
The tensions in Selma were already high by the time Dr King came on the scene. In fact, marches and demonstrations had been going on since late 1963. So much so, that an injunction was passed in July of 1964 banning mass meetings in churches (generally accepted as the headquarters of the protesters), and public protesting about voting rights. Yep, you read that right. The government in Selma effectively negated their citizens’ right to peaceful assembly. Sheriff Clark and Mayor Smitherman did not budge on enforcing these new laws. When it was publicized that only 300 of the estimated 15,000 adult black population of Selma was registered to vote, a federal court ordered Selma to register 100 voters per day. This did not sit well with many, and black protesters moved their meeting place to nearby Marion. When Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot in Marion, the protests in Slema gained new life. Many thought they should march Jimmy’s body right to the state capital, to show the governor just what was happening in Slema. And so, the idea to march from Selma to Montgomery was born. The first march was led by John Lewis Hosea Williams, and ended at the bottom of Edmund Pettus bridge in what would be remembered as Bloody Sunday.
Sister Ebo had every reason to be scared. She had just voted in St Louis, and part of her felt like what was happening in Selma wasn’t her fight. But Sister Ann Christopher felt differently. She was teaching and living in the black community in St Louis at the time. When she heard about what happened on Bloody Sunday she immediately felt she needed to be there. After Dr King called for clergy to join him in Selma, it was decided that several priests from St Louis would go. Sister Ann asked the father in charge of her parish if she could join them. The priest called Cardinal Ritter, and Ritter answered that not only should Sister Ann accompany the priests, but sisters from each parish in St Louis should be sent as well.
When Sister Ebo’s superior first asked her if she would like to go, she remembers answering, “No, I would not like to go to Selma. I know I do a lot of fussing, but I don’t feel bad enough to want to go down there and be a martyr for somebody’s rights.” But even as she was saying those words, it was “coming into (her) mind that it was bigger than voting rights. It was the right to be self-determining.” In the documentary, Sisters of Selma she says, “It is one thing to have a right on a piece of paper, but if you cannot express that right in the way you live, the way you vote, the way you are self-determining, something has to give.” All the same, Sister Ebo was terrified.
Her fear was soon trumped by her faith. For her, the question of getting involved in social justice is answered in Matthew 25:31-46 when Jesus says, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” She felt that she had to take a position, and that position had to be based on faith. She felt that, as a Catholic, it was her responsibility to meet her brothers and sisters in Christ, and “realize we all come from the same God.” She felt she had a “responsibility to speak up and become part of the response.” Her response was supported by the Second Vatican Council, who had encouraged sisters to get out of their ivory towers and out of their habits and into the communities they were serving.
With over 50 delegates, the St Louis contingent was the largest to respond to Dr King’s call for religious leaders to come to Selma and join the second attempt to march to Montgomery. Sister Ebo was one of only six nuns, and the only African American woman in the group. The sisters and priests were joined by leaders from various denominations and arrived in Selma on March 10th. When Sister Ebo stepped off the plane in Slema, a priest there thought, “Oh my God. This is going to make a difference.” They met the rest of the marchers at Brown Chapel AME, where crowds parted as minister Andrew Young introduced Sister Ebo and she was seated in a place of honor at the pastor’s chair in the sanctuary. The St Louis group was asked to lead the march that day, with the sisters front and center.
The sisters led the way as the group set out on the second attempt to cross over the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the way to Montgomery. They had men surrounding them, for their own protection. The men were afraid that the crowd would push the sisters forward, and they had their backs. But the group didn’t get far. Contrary to the re-telling of the second march in the movie Slema, Dr King did not lead the group, and the bridge was not opened to them. In fact, the Mayor stopped them before they reached the line of state troopers just ahead. He reminded them of the law against marching in protest and said that he expected that law to be followed. It was then that someone had the idea that the religious leaders should “bear witness” as to why they were marching. And it was then that Sister Ebo became an icon when a broadcaster recorded an exchange between her and local government agents. She told them:
We are here from St Louis to demonstrate and to witness our love to our fellow citizens in Selma. We are here, secondly, to protest the violation of rights. I am Negro and very proud. I feel it a privilege to be here today. I am Sister Mary Antona from St Louis, Missouri, and I stay at St Louis Infirmary. I might say that yesterday, being a Negro, I voted. And I’d like to come here today and say that every citizen–Negro as well as white–should be given the right to vote. That’s why I’m here today.
The entire group then knelt to say the Our Father, and made their way back to the church. Their march was short, but their impact was immense.
Finally, a federal court order was issued to allow the march, and President LB Johnson pledged his support. National Guard troops as well as U.S. Army troops protected the marchers on their four day journey to Montgomery.
It would be another 40 years before Sister Ebo would fulfill her desire to cross the famed Edmund Pettus Bridge that spanned the Alabama river and led to Montgomery.
The image of Sister Ebo marching in Slema that day would become an icon. She remembers:
It turned out that the habit was what got everyone’s attention very quickly, because nuns had not been seen doing anything like that before. It didn’t ring a bell with me that we were getting involved in something hysterical and historical.
There is no doubt Sister Ebo is glad she went. She has said, “The one thing I didn’t want to do was to become a sweet little old nun that was passing out holy cards and telling people ‘I’ll pray for you’ and not really having mastered or developed an expertise in being a caregiver from a good theological base.” And develop an expertise she did…
Life after Selma
When she returned home to St Louis, Sister Ebo picked up right where she left off, but seemed to do so with even more gusto.
In 1968 she helped found the National Black Sisters’ Conference (she would later serve as President).
She earned her Master’s degree in hospital executive development from St Louis University in 1970.
In 1976 she was appointed as the executive director of the St Clare Hospital in Baraboo, Wisconsin. She was the first African American woman religious to head any Catholic Hospital in the nation.
After some health problems of her own, she decided she wanted to stop paper-pushing, so she got her second Master’s degree, this time in theology of health care in 1978 from Aquinas Institute of Theology and began serving as hospital chaplain. In a 1978 article in the Catholic Herald Citizen, she compared her position as chaplain to that of a clown, “Clowns don’t do a lot of talking. They’re quiet. they bring happiness by smiling in a way that is both happy and sad. It’s a wry smile that says, “I’ve experienced life– both the gladness and the sadness. I’m human just like you.“
In 1989 the National Black Sisters’ Conference presented her with the Harriet Tubman Award, and described her as being “called to be a Moses to the people.”
In 2000, at the 35th anniversary of what came to be known as the “Right to Vote” Bridge Crossing, she was honored with the Living Legend Award by the Voting Rights Institute in Selma.
In 2002 she received the Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the Dr Martin Luther King Jr State Celebration Commission of Missouri.
She was honored as the Lifetime Achiever in Health Care by the St Louis American Foundation at their 12th annual Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards in 2012.
Additionally, she has been the recipient of six honorary doctorate degrees from the following Universities:
Loyola University-Chicago (1995)
College of New Rochelle of New York (2008)
Aquinas Institute (2009)
St Louis University (2010)
University of Missouri St Louis (2010)
University of Notre Dame
She has continued to speak out for voting rights of not only African Americans, but all Americans
There is a concerted effort to suppress the votes of the poor and blacks. The effort was made during the last election to make sure we didn’t have people standing all the way around the block, just to get the right to vote, but it is still happening in individual states.
She has also been vocal about present-day racism and injustice that is seen in substandard educational opportunities for minorities and recent shootings of unarmed black youth. A friend drove Sister Ebo through Ferguson shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown, and when he stopped to talk to some law enforcement officials that he knew, word soon spread as to who he was escorting around. The head of security in Ferguson, Capt. Ron Johnson of Missouri Highway Patrol visited Sister Ebo first, and several soon followed suit. A small video crew from Birmingham Alabama had walked past the car, not realizing that the living legend was inside. Capt Johnson stopped them and told them they were going the wrong way– they should be talking to that beautiful black nun. Sister Ebo told the crew to not be satisfied by taking some superficial pictures. “You are going to raise the rug and look at what’s under the rug. The mistake I think many of is made in the 60s is we were taking somebody else’s word for it; you have to look under the rug.”
She was present at a Faith in Ferguson prayer service in March of 2015, where she urged people on both sides of the conflict to meet for dialogue. She noted that dialogue between races and cultures creates understanding and builds bridges. She challenged the congregation: “You want to really, actually learn about peace? Well, get busy doing something for justice…Each of us is called to so something for our neighbors to express our love.” In the words of Pope Paul VI: “If you really want peace, work for justice”
Sister Ebo told the group in Ferguson that “every 20 years or so, we go through a new discontent.” She recognizes that there are many human rights issues to deal with today, and encourages people to ask themselves, “What do I need to be responding to?”
Sister Ebo has done her fair share of responding. Though not a native to St Louis, we will claim her as our very own beautiful black nun. Our very own civil rights hero. And our very own responder.