Equity and Inclusion


In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters begin by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.

Our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters are collaborating on a Black Catholic Project that begins on January 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This project seeks to provide information on prominent Blacks and Black Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

 

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Our Lady of Stono and the Stono Rebellion

Stono Rebellion

Our Lady of Stono and the Stono Rebellion

The Stono Rebellion began on September 9, 1739, and is relatively unknown despite it being the largest uprising of enslaved people in the British colony of South Carolina. Some historians call it the most important revolt in North American history. Its story adds much to our Black Catholic heritage and the struggle for freedom and justice among enslaved people.

The rebellion began near the Stono River close to Charleston, South Carolina. The date of the rebellion was significant to the people who were Catholics from Kingdom of Kongo (now Congo) and were devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In their home country, September 8 was a day of devotions and fasting in honor of Mary for the Kongolese in Kongo and in the British colonies. She was especially invoked during times of tragedy and conflict. In 1739 the Kongolese in South Carolina celebrated September 8 as a day of prayer and fasting, as usual. The Rebellion took place invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary for liberty the next day.

The Kongolese Freedom Fighters, as they were known, raided a firearms shop and took ammunition. They went on to kill more than 20 white people, choosing to spare others. The rebels were headed south flying flags of the Marian color of blue. The group was hoping to reach St. Augustine, Florida – about 150 miles away – where fugitives were offered freedom in exchange for converting to Catholicism and serving in the colonial militia. However, the Kongolese Freedom Fighters never arrived in Florida.

The rebellion ended when whites returned fire and about 30 Freedom Fighters were killed. Others escaped, but most were captured over the next few months and then executed.

After the rebellion, harsher laws were enacted which limited the privileges of enslaved people for fear of future rebellions. They were no longer allowed to grow their own food, assemble in groups, earn money, or learn to read.

A traveling mural depicting Our Lady of Stono and 21 Black Catholics, including the rebellion leader Cato, was commissioned by the National Congress of Black Catholics in 2017.

 

Resources

Book by Peter H. Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670s through the Stono Rebellion (London: W.W. Norton and Co, 1974)

Information on the Stono Rebellion from the 1998 PBS series Africans in America
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p284.html

Article in US Catholic by Damian Costello, September 1, 2020. “Pray with Our Lady of Stono to Heal the Wounds of Slavery.”
https://uscatholic.org/articles/202009/pray-with-our-lady-of-stono-to-heal-the-wounds-of-slavery

Information on the Stono Rebellion from the Library of Congress’ “America’s Story” website
https://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/colonial/jb_colonial_stono_1.html

The mural commissioned by the National Black Catholic Congress featuring Our Lady of Stono
https://www.cal-catholic.com/our-lady-of-stono-depicts-individuals-who-played-prominent-role-in-black-catholic-history


Reflection Questions

1. Did you know of the Stono Rebellion? Were you surprised?

2. What is your reaction to these Kongolese Freedom Fighters taking action with the ratio of 2-to-1 of more enslaved people than owners in the British Colony?

3. This rebellion was rooted in a deep Catholic faith, devotion to Mary and a desire for freedom. It is an example of faith and action coming together. Share more recent examples in our history where faith required action for you.


Prayer

Holy Mary, Mother of all people, we ask for your guidance and assistance in seeing injustice and prejudice where they exist in our lives.

Inspire in us the hope that we can work towards true freedom for all people.

Amen

 

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People of African Descent on the Path to Sainthood

 

U.S. Black Catholic History Links

Black Catholic History page by Seattle University

Timeline from the National Black Catholic Congress

Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OP, discusses Black Catholics in America with Dr. Paul Lakeland for Fairfield University's "Voices of Others" video series

News report on one of the oldest Black Catholic parishes in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (formerly St. Monica) in Chicago, Illinois

 

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