From 2007-2008, the Murphy Initiative’s theme was “Overcoming Fear: Building Global Solidarity.” It provided a path to understanding the roots of racism and how it is connected to the anti-immigration spirit so devastating to undocumented immigrants, and to us all. Our hope was that through the events of the year we would all increase our awareness of the subtle ways in which racism is alive in our lives, in our Church, and in our nation. Accepting this in humility we could be moved to take action in support of the oppressed and the immigrant.
In November 2009, the Murphy Initiative held a conference highlighting racism. Participants heard the stories of people like Roger Brooke Taney and Frederick Douglass, and the lesser-known Lillie May Jackson and Victorine Adams. They heard about the ambivalence of the citizens of Maryland in the face of slavery. We watched the powerful film “Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible,” featuring white women and men who had gained insight into white privilege and its relationship to cultural and systemic racism. Conference participants began to see physically and spiritually how this reflected the truth in each of their own lives. The day was a collaborative effort that brought many to a new level of understanding of the pervasiveness of racial injustice and gave us all the impetus to work for a better tomorrow. The Murphy Initiative continues to benefit from the lessons learned on that day, though we know that work against racism is lifelong. We hope that our efforts to better understand and combat racism personally, locally, and globally are reflected in our work against the death penalty, against economic injustice, and towards inclusionary housing.