*I visited St. Ursuline's Convent on Tuesday, July 11th. It is a beautiful, old place created for a sect of nuns and focused much attention on Henriette Delille (pronounced on-ree). Henriette was a Creole (mixed blood), freeborn because her slave mother worked to buy freedom. After many difficult events, Henriette devoted her life to God and the Church. Photographs show her true image, yet drawings portray her as clearly dark-skinned. Henriette Delille was secretly trained and quietly took her vows before two prominent male church officials. She was not allowed to wear a veil, habit, and crucifix because she was not white. Henriette died in 1862 of tuberculosis and is shown in all the statues at St. Ursuline's in 'garb of the day'. Ten years after her death, in 1872, Creole nuns were finally allowed to wear the habit they'd earned through sacrifice and schooling.
This writing came from my reactions to this powerful visit. (Pics added when wifi is better)
Six kneeling figures, hands folded, eyes lifted in adoration of the Blessed Mother. Henriette Delille would have been unknown without her name chiseled in white marble beneath her feet. She wears "the garb of the day."
Denied habit, veil, and crucifix, because of her race.
Having taken her vows in secret, because of her race.
Because of her race, drawings and sketches portray Henriette with cocoa brown skin, clearly not white.
Because of her race, Henriette's photo, truth revealed, shows skin fairer than mine.
New Orleans was a city of mixed races and colors, but even here things were different, because of race.
My students ask me, Why? as we study The Holocaust, The Children's March, LGBTQ, and 'Equality for All' as a theme.
How to explain what boils down to the phrase, "Because of their race," to young adults who do not judge based on race?
In my lifetime, I hope to hear,
"Because we are kind.
Because it is right.
Because we are equal."