This just in, from Connie Nash, who is participating in the current Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing:
Report #1 on the Texas Journey 2007
From Houston on Thursday afternoon...
Hello, this is a quickly pulled-together report right before some of us take off for San Antonio, Dallas, etc. Not yet sure in what order. Sound familiar?(smiles)
We have had a rich & wondrous week in Houston. Of course we are all cry-babies and huggers and so there were lots of the same this morning as some of this Journey's group took off for various & sundry places.
To start more-or-less at the beginning:
Most of us stayed at the Dominican Sisters place on Almeda. Later, we want to tell you about their beautiful mission so in keeping with our own. Of course, their welcoming us with open arms wasn't hurt at all by the fact that Sister Helen was with us for several days and spoke in their chapel.
The first real gathering with all of us began with a bang! We saw together the DVD of the '98 Journey of Hope which is just now completed & in process of release to several venues. Quite a few of us were in that film. Of course watching this, we felt the presence of many other Journey folk and abolitionists as we teared up and laughed together.
"We plan to be on the road 'til the death penalty is abolished..."
Ron Carlson "The hardest thing I ever did was to forgive (Carla Faye Tucker)...I took the time to get to know Carla Faye. She was the firmest believer I've ever met."
"It wasn't hate that sustained me, it was love."
Ken & Louis Robinson "Texas is 50th in the nation for (not) taking care of mentally ill...cutting mental health (funding) to build more prisons."
"(Folk) don't want babies killed...(they) just want adults killed."
Execution "dehumanizes the (criminal) just as they dehumanize their victim."
George "We're not on different sides... you can't restore something that you kill."
"Hatred is simply not healthy." Sister Helen or Marietta?
From an angry bystander right after a state killing: "They should be tortured & let everyone see it."
Bill Pelke "To forgive is not condoning. Forgiving Paula (Cooper) did more for me than it did for Paula."
After the film, we got acquainted & reacquainted...
Here is just a wee bit from this sharing...
CeCe McWee "My son first asked me not to witness his execution but I refused and went. We were asked by the prison officials not to express emotions. I didn't cry but later in the shower I felt the salt more than the water. I still keep trying to ask myself 'what more could I have done for my son?'" (CeCe also lost a daughter to murder)
Dave Atwood "We are here in the Belly of the Beast--(or maybe) the Belly of the Belly of the Beast. We still have politicians to change--it's a political animal here."
A group of Koreans were with us. Father Li who ministers to death row inmates and other prisoners and certain sacred remembrances, washes the feet of these inmates. Mr. Ko lost three family members to a murder and forgives the serial killer. Much more on this group later.
Read about others here on this site and I will tell you more about each later.
Well, I'm gonna go quickly through the rest of the week because I know any moment the cars will roll out of here...
Concert with Nancy G. and Charlie King. Presentations by Mr. Ko, Father Li and Sister Helen. This night was so well-received although the collection barely paid the expenses.
We gathered the next evening...
Sister Helen to Bill P. "Was it tense for you last night?"
Bill "It's been tense the last six months."
Lisa "I'm a Johnny Appleseed but I never see the apples." (Lisa does Restorative Justice work since '89. She has been a key player in the release of an
We all got to talk with Abe B. and Susan B. by phone and felt so connected and close to them.
Ron talked about how "People show up like tulips" one of many fresh metaphors and phrases were were to hear throughout this week.
One of the "vindicated" (new term for exoneree) thanked the activist and supporters for being with us.
Greg P. Audel, a local lawyer who was a close friend of Karla Faye and is a close friend of Sister Helen said, "We're here to lift all of society up--that's why we're here."
Well there's ever so much more about this week to tell. These are only a few of the highlights. More nd tidbits from Dallas on Houston part #2 soon. Look forward to an amazing scenario at a youth center in a challenging neighborhood--the way they connected with Terri and her deep concerns for her son who's on death row for a crime he didn't do--and their connections also with the "vindicated" guys--
Find out soon how to download or hear online a radio program with Greg and Shujaa that you won't believe, there was an incredibly polished and moving set-up on screen with many profound quotes silently presented as Sister Helen and Terri's told their stories at St.
Pius X High School. The students were the leaders and warm receivers. There was a couple in the audience who have a brother on Texas Death Row--friends of Monica (of Sweden) and Robin who've been with us on the Journey. They are all family in supporting Roger on Texas Death Row.
In closing, part #1 from Jim U who helped edit and write a book with a Texas death row inmate, Carter Flores' son.
"Taking my first Journey (not my last) has deepened and motivated me as an actrivist and a whole person.
It was a privelege to bring the Journey's hope within the razorwire. Those who've forgiven the most atrocious crimes imaginable embrace ;you with a powerful spirit of compassion. I got the read Bill P.'s powerful book in the days I got to know him and in the days that others purchased Charle's own books.
Sitting to hear Charlie King sing a new song is like encountering Phil Ochs all over again. It's a wonderful journey."
More soon from us all--excuse any typos--you know how much we have to keep movin' on this Journey! Please keep the Atwoods, Bill and Kathy and all of us in The Light as we do for you--
Your Journey Scribe (as Sister Helen calls me) from the Carolinas, Connie Nash