32 Chapters
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4. You Feel Like Your Work Is a Ministry

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

4

You Feel Like Your Work Is a Ministry

San Antonio, 1986

I drive for almost an hour through the suburbs and shopping centers in the rolling hills of northwest San Antonio before I find Mary and Jesse Moreno’s home near the University of Texas Medical School. Jesse has worked for almost four years to remodel the white brick and frame house with bright blue shutters that sits on two acres in the tree-filled neighborhood. The house is spacious and comfortable for Mary and Jesse and their four children who range in age from 6 to 11. Wide windows bring in the pastoral scenes from the backyard where the children’s pony grazes peacefully. While the kids watch Saturday morning cartoons in the den, Mary heats coffee in her microwave and we sit at a huge pine table in the dining room, where books and newspapers are stacked alongside children’s art, school papers, and comfortable family clutter. The washing machine is humming in another room, and we hear Jesse hammering away, making repairs on the carport he recently added. Mary is telling me about her children with an enthusiasm that makes her seem younger than her 38 years. Her jet-black hair is cut stylishly short and she wears a diamond drop around her neck.

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12. A Theology That Does Not Stop

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

12

A Theology That Does Not Stop

Los Angeles, 1976

Sister Maribeth Larkin has only a small role to play today at city hall when members of a new East Los Angeles community group make their presentation to the city council. All she has to do is to translate from Spanish to English the words of the local leaders who will present the concerns of the United Neighborhoods Organization (UNO) to the council. But she is queasy. Fear grips her stomach, and the telephone call from Ernesto Cortes doesn’t help.

“I’m testing you out,” Cortes tells her. “We’ll see how well you do today and then decide how we can use you.” That’s all the shy and slender, clear-eyed Sister of Social Service needs to lose her breakfast, even consider calling in sick. How can she possibly stand up and talk in front of the politicians and news media in the chambers of the Los Angeles City Council? Yet, how could she even consider backing out with so many people depending on her? Once again, fear and duty—the hallmarks of her life—provoke conflict within Maribeth Larkin. As usual, duty wins the battle, but the fear remains and turns to panic when she and almost 200 UNO members arrive to see that the council chambers are already full.

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9. Tactics Is the Art of Taking

Mary Beth Rogers University of North Texas Press PDF

80 / Tactics Is the Art of Taking

But TWO members are in a hurry, and when they realize they have given away their leverage to get the city to focus on the neighborhoods, they decide they have to do something drastic to get the mayor's attention.

O'Hare Airport-the world's busiest airport and Chicago's pride-becomes their target. Thousands of travelers pass through its gates each day, and most of them stop long enough to use the bathroom facilities. TWO decides to occupy the lavatories-a sure way to bring airport operations to a halt! All demonstrators have to do is drop a dime, enter the restroom stall, and push the lock on the door. It would take only a few people, armed with books and newspapers, staying there all day to disrupt the airport and create chaos. There might even be fist fights in the long lines when travelers realize they are about to miss their connections and have no place to relieve themselves. Angry passengers would no doubt shout at airport employees. Children would be screaming, "But I've got to go!"

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9. Tactics Is the Art of Taking

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

9

Tactics Is the Art of Taking

Chicago, 1964

Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago has pulled out all the stops to turn out a huge Democratic vote for Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater in the November presidential election. He has lined up most of the city’s black organizations to cooperate in the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort. But only six weeks before the election, leaders of the black Woodlawn Organization regret acting so hastily—not because of anything Johnson or the national Democrats had done, but because their too-early presidential endorsement seems to endanger their own local political goals.

With the help of Saul Alinsky in 1960, The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) had been organized by a group of black residents and church leaders to keep the University of Chicago from expanding into their neighborhoods. After its successful effort against the university, the group decided to focus on other projects to upgrade their community, and TWO had become a force to be reckoned with in Chicago politics. This year, the city administration had committed to make certain capital improvements in TWO neighborhoods. But with the virtual lockup of the black vote for the Democrats, Mayor Daley and city officials were under very little pressure to deliver on their commitments to TWO—at least for now. What’s the hurry?

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7. The First Revolution Is Internal

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub

7

The First Revolution Is Internal

Austin, 1986

I wait for Sister Christine Stephens in the coffee shop at the Ramada Inn, one block from the State Capitol building. She is about 20 minutes late for our appointment, and when she finally arrives, it is only to pause long enough to apologize for the delay of her airplane and to excuse herself for a few minutes more to make a telephone call. The call is to check with the lieutenant governor’s office about his itinerary for an upcoming tour of the colonias in the Rio Grande Valley. Lieutenant Governor William P. Hobby Jr. wants officials from the state’s water agencies to see the neighborhoods where people live without adequate water and sewer systems, and Stephens is making arrangements for the trip. But at the last minute, Governor Mark White, who is facing a stiff challenge to his reelection bid, decides he wants to go along.1 And now, with the governor’s staff and press entourage, arrangements have to be made for 50 people. What started out as a simple visit by water officials has turned into a political circus, which Stephens must manage. As I watch the tall, no-nonsense, graying woman in a blue business suit, there is no doubt in my mind that she can handle it.

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