Two Women You Probably Didn’t Hear About During Black History Month

Meet Mildred Jefferson and Alveda King. Either of these gifted women could have lived a quietly successful life. They chose to stand up for the right to life instead, which pretty much put an end to any hope for “quiet.”

Mildred Jefferson, M.D.
MIldred Jefferson, M.D. (photo from masscitizensforlife.org)

 

I met Dr. Mildred Jefferson a couple of times, when she came to New Hampshire to testify in Concord on pro-life bills. She was petite, with a radiant smile, and she always dressed with elegance and simplicity and a hat to match. She looked quite unthreatening until she sat down and began to speak. Only then would everyone in the room realize what a powerhouse she was.

Born in 1926, she earned her bachelor’s degree at the age of 16, and went on to become the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. She was made of stern stuff. This served her well in her years as a surgeon, and even more so as she became outspoken in her defense of life and her opposition to abortion. She helped to found Massachusetts Citizens for Life in the early 1970s and later served as president of the National Right to Life Committee. From about 1970 until her death in 2010, she was a nonstop pro-life advocate.

Both times when I heard her testify, I listened to her describe the medical facts about abortion, its effects on women, and the development of the preborn child. Both times, I was indignant to the point of anger as some of our state representatives dismissed her medical experience and judgment as being somehow “ideological.” I never heard Dr. Jefferson raise her voice or utter an impatient word in reply. She knew someone with medical credentials had to go on record, even if some of the reps didn’t want to hear her. She did the same thing in State Houses all over the country. To this day, I am in awe of her energy, intelligence, and persistence.

Alveda King
Dr. Alveda King (photo from Facebook)

Dr. Alveda King grew up in the civil rights movement, and her biography says “she sees the prolife movement as a continuation of the civil rights struggle.” She is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Her doctorate, like his, is non-medical.) She is based in Georgia, although her work takes her all over the country. She is currently working with Priests for Life as pastoral associate and director of African-American outreach. A post-abortive woman herself, she is part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which encourages women who regret their abortions to speak up about the emotional and physical consequences they have endured.

I haven’t met her yet. I hope I will someday, just so I can thank her for what she’s doing.

This is all too brief a sketch of two women who deserve much more attention. They’re not in history books — not yet, anyway.

 

 

Have a peaceful Christmas!

Merry is good. Peaceful (not necessarily “quiet”) is better. I hope that whatever your faith, you’re with people you love this Christmas & that you’re all appreciating each other.

How happy am I to be celebrating the birth of Christ? Happy enough to be in the choir for Midnight Mass tonight. That’s a triumph of joy over skill.

By the way, I want something for Christmas: would someone please write a song that answers “Santa Baby”? You want to strike a blow for culture, here’s your chance. It has to be funny, catchy, and somehow incorporate The Meaning of Christmas. (Think Linus.)

Here’s to life, today & always.

Back to Concord; Komen/PP webcast; Happy Advent

The 2013-14 New Hampshire legislature was sworn in this morning, with House Speaker Terie Norelli (D-Portsmouth) urging an end to “harshness.”  Regular business starts in January. Reps and senators have until this Friday, December 7, to submit proposed bills (LSRs, or legislative service requests). Yes, I’m watching.

No surprises in either House or Senate leadership. Dems run the House, Republicans run the Senate, no quarrels about who gets to wield the gavels (Norelli in the House, Sen. Peter Bragdon of Milford in the Senate).

Yesterday, the House Republican Alliance elected Reps. Pam Tucker of Greenland, Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, and Carol McGuire of Epsom as co-chairs. This conservative & decidedly unofficial group was extremely effective in the minority two sessions ago. I look forward to their weekly “pink sheets” again.

I chatted at length this morning with Pastor Garrett Lear, who (so I hear) gave a remarkable opening prayer at this morning’s Executive Council meeting. I should have been there instead of fruitlessly searching for a seat in the packed House gallery.  Pastor Lear and I have been in NH’s pro-life trenches for years now numbering in the decades. We spoke of loyal opposition and about being in the minority – hardly a new place for either of us! Minorities, like majorities, are temporary. Pro-life work, as with other development of our culture, goes on no matter who’s in charge.

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Which brings me to the news that I have returned to Cornerstone, or rather Cornerstone has returned to me as a client. I’m very happy to be back at the State House & the LOB to lobby, track bills, listen to hearings, and suchlike. Cornerstone is on the verge of announcing a new Executive Director, and I won’t spill the beans here except to say I’m looking forward to working for her.

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The Family Research Council is having a webcast on the 13th with Karen Handel, the former Komen for the Cure executive who has gone public on the messy and outrageous details behind Planned Parenthood’s arm-twisting of Komen. Find & read Handel’s book Planned Bullyhood, if you haven’t already done so. Terrible (though accurate) title, compelling story.

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From the Diocese of Manchester web site:

Join over 300 people from NH traveling to Washington, DC for the March for Life and Pilgrimage of Faith from January 24-25, 2013. Limited spaces for packages with transportation and hotel are available. For more information, e-mail Valerie_lynn_somers@comcast.net or visit www.catholicnh.org/life.

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Observing Advent is an annual act of cultural defiance for me. Working retail for a few years made me appreciate how terrible is the  rhythm of a two-month “Christmas” season that begins with Halloween and stops with a dead thud on December 26. Ste. Marie’s in Manchester NH had a wonderful Lessons and Carols service the other day. If a church in your area has such a program, check it out. Now if only I could find something like that the week after Christmas, which is after all during the real Christmas season. In the meantime, happy Advent!

Gratitude, Even In November

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/333828/gratitude-even-november-2012-nro-symposium

From today’s National Review Online, this link will take you to a collection of brief reflections on gratitude. One writer in particular struck me. From Edward T. Mechmann:

“While our modern media tend to concentrate on the big picture, the reality is that a true Culture of Life is the product of a myriad of decisions made on the personal, individual level….Such small steps are invisible to our media culture, but plain to see for those who look in the right place. By the grace of God and the cooperation of everyday people, a Culture of Life is being built within the ruins of our age, one heart and one life at a time. That gives us great cause for thanksgiving.”