Personal Note: I apologize for taking 2.5 weeks to put out this blog though I said in my last blog on Columbus Day, that I would post later that week. As I highly value being a person of my word, I want to take responsibility for not fulfilling it. I have so many white heroes, I struggle to write a basic blog post and exclude many. With that being said, here’s a starting piece about my white heroes.
As I mentioned in my blog on Colombus Day, we need new white heroes. During my “Europe Voyage” (my Sabbatical journey through 10 countries in 2 months), I was looking out for historical figures from my nations of origin (I celebrate Italians though I’m not Italian!) whom I could admire and emulate. In reflection there were four with whom I came into contact who really impressed and challenged me. Here I will share a little about each…
Casement served as British Consul to the Belgian Congo, Brazil, and Peru where he raised awareness for human atrocities in the rubber trade. While he worked for “the establishment” (the British government) investigating the human atrocities of other colonial powers, he realized it stripped human beings of their basic human rights. An exhibit in Dublin says, “He grew increasingly appalled with the establishment’s treatment of indigenous peoples. Over time he noticed similarities between the destruction of indigenous culture by colonization and the Irish situation.” Knighted by King George V for investigating human right abuses in Peru, he was later stripped of his knighthood and executed for treason due to his involvement with an Irish nationalist movement.
St. Francis & St. Clare
Italy, 12th – 13th century
Living at time when abuses of the Catholic church where at a peak with inquisitions against heresy, sale of indulgences, and gross wealth at the Vatican, to name a few. Contemporaries just 10 years apart in age, both Francis & Claire started monastic communities centered around poverty, service, and carrying the cross of Christ. Francis was wild as a young man but turned spiritually eccentric when he heard Jesus speak from a crucifix, “Francis, repair my church.” Clare was inspired by Francis’ gospel message and left her affluent family and marriage betrothal to dedicate herself to prayer and service. She wrote the first rule of life for women. Together they challenged the opulent wealth of the catholic church and drew many to their simple monasticism. The life and work of contemporary Franciscans challenge us to remember the poor and marginalized and to care for God’s Creation.
The London Portrait Museum describes him as “an evangelical Christian and social reformer”. Though Wilberforce wanted to be a Christian Preacher, friends convinced him to use his political position for a righteous cause—to end the brutal human trafficking of Africans. As a member of the British Parliament, he led the Abolition movement from 1787 ‘till the termination of the slave trade in 1807. In the year of his death, slaves were freed from all of the British colonies. I love Wilberforce because he lived in this unique intersection of faith and human rights activism, using his political influence to bring freedom for captives. Besides Jesus Christ, William Wilberforce is my greatest hero. He deserves his own blog post!
Who are your white heroes?