Voices of Change: Mrs. P.B. Parks

In honor of Black History Month, the SisterStory podcast producers have created a mini-series inspired by the voice of black sisters throughout history. The monologues presented in this series were derived from the interviews shared by author Dr. Shannen Dee Williams and of sisters who attended the first National Black Sisters Conference in 1970.

Fearing the removal of the black sisters teaching at the Holy Trinity School, Mrs. P. B. Parks pleaded with the Oblate Superior General not to withdraw the sisters. Mrs. P. B. Park speaks of the great influence the sisters had on the students and why they cannot lose them as teachers.

The National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC) was established in August 1968. NBSC was organized by Sister Martin de Porres Grey, R.S.M to confront racism in the Catholic Church and in society by supporting, communicating, and educating Black Catholic women religious. What began as a support system for Black women religious has turned into a national support and communication system for members of the Church, congregation, and surrounding society.

Pa Ying:
As an organization, the National Black Sisters Conference uses its platform to speak and act on social justice, educational, economical, and religious issues in the United States and the world. As a collective, NBSC promotes a positive image of the Black community, and serve to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in the communities that they serve and live. As an organization, National Black Sisters Conference vows,

“As women religious and associates, we draw strength and courage from God, support one another in the faith; and hold our elders in high esteem. We study, speak and act on issues that impact the social, educational, economic, and religious milieu of the United States and the world community. We promote a positive self-image among ourselves, and all African Peoples. We believe that through the power of the Spirit working in and through us we can be witnesses of Jesus Christ in the communities where we live and serve.”

This is SisterStory Presents! And, I am Rocky.

Pa Ying Vang:
And I am Pa Ying Vang.

In honor of Black History Month, we at NCSW will be doing a special limited series focusing on the untold stories of Black Catholic Sisters.

Pa Ying Vang:
The stories from this series were discovered with the help of a news article from Global Sisters Report that was highlighting the dissertation of Dr. Shannen Dee Williams. Dr. Williams’ dissertation documents the history of Black Catholic Sisters.

Through further reading of Dr. William’s dissertation and further research, we learned of the National Black Sisters Conference. And, as we read, we found wonderful interviews with and commentary from sisters who were part of the conference. Their words provided powerful insight into their experience as sisters and the importance of this conference.

Pa Ying Vang:
Inspired by their words, we set out to create a very unique kind of podcast project. We read about the sisters interviewed, and, from that, wrote monologues inspired by them.

As these are monologues, they are best heard as they would be performed. So, we recorded them as they were performed on a stage.

Pa Ying Vang:
And, unlike our other series, where Rocky and I are the main voices, we have invited other women to participate.

*break*stage curtain opens and footsteps start*

In her dissertation, Dr. Williams’ wrote, “...black sisters are the forgotten prophets of American Catholicism and democracy.” This is performance inspired by one of those sisters. Performing as Mrs. P.B. Parks, this is Senaite Wuhib.

Senaite Wuhib:
Education is our greatest asset as people. And, in the hands of everyone, it is a tool through which we can build fantastic societies. But, limited to the few, it only serves as a weapon in the hands of the oppressors in the struggle for power. In Orangeburg, South Carolina, we are experiencing this struggle for power. And, the white here would like nothing better than for the school to close as we do not get any cooperation from them whatsoever. But, we are not discouraged. We struggle and we fight for equality. We need our school, and our students need education. Thanks to the service of the sisters at the Holy Trinity School, our students receive that education. Through the sister’s guidance, our children have a chance at life; a life more fulfilled than the ones that us parents are leading. A life that will embrace our children's’ full potential. If we were to lose the Sisters we would all be at a loss. The Sisters make the school, and they are the ones the parents and students rally behind. They teach our students and they lead our parents. They provide the most valuable gift in this great pursuit of justice and equality, inspiration.



NYTimes Article: https://www.nytimes.com/1970/08/15/archives/finding-identity-black-nuns-...

Global Sisters Report: http://globalsistersreport.org/news/trends/forthcoming-book-documents-hi...

SisterStory Presents: Cover Art

About SisterStory Presents:

SisterStory Presents: is a collective podcast for work without a series for a home. One-offs, mini-series, short audio clips, and anything in-between; this podcast serves as a point of connection for SisterStory and the various audiences we serve.