Parishioners ‘show up’ for racial justice work

by Sophie Vodvarka with the National Catholic Reporter
Photo by Anice Chenault

SURJ Leadership Team Member Anice Chenault spoke with the National Catholic Reporter about her Catholic parish’s engagement in protests against the murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY:

The police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd that sparked massive actions across the U.S. this summer “felt personal” to Louisville, Kentucky, organizer and St. William parishioner Anice Chenault.

Anice is white and Arab, married to a Black man, and has a mixed-race son. She said the killings exacerbated the feeling she has every morning that when her husband, and any other person of color, gets up, they take their life into their own hands.

In late May, Chenault joined the Louisville Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter’s actions. The group’s ongoing “Freedom Friday” car caravan to release people in jail and detention facilities at risk of COVID-19, transformed into a call for police accountability and justice for 26-year-old Taylor, a Black woman killed by police in her Louisville home.

Chenault said parishioners from St. William’s made up about a fourth of the people in the caravan, who rode alongside Black Lives Matter community leaders. Chenault described the parish as “one of the few remaining true Vatican II parishes.” The approximately 200 parishioners, who are largely older and white, are active in many justice ministries, and were ready to stand with their community.

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