The Good Trouble Series Continues with “For and With Others”: How Does Our Mission Statement Become Activism?”

Devyn Forcina ‘22

News Editor 

On September 29, the third installment of The Good Trouble Series, “ “For and With Others”: How Does Our Mission Statement Become Activism?” was held virtually. Professor Santos moderated the event, and the speakers included Professor Ryan, Isabella Corazzini from Worcester Interfaith, Yandi Pierre ’22, and Ashley Fortune ’23.

Professor Ryan began the talk with a history of the phrase ‘good trouble.’ She shared that the phrase was initially stated by the late John Lewis, during a talk he gave shortly before his death in March 2020. He was giving a speech to commemorate Bloody Sunday, which refers to March 7, 1965, when over six hundred people were peacefully protesting against police brutality and faced it themselves. Lewis was there himself, as the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee also known by its abbreviation SNCC. He, and many others, were badly beaten on that day.

“So fast forward now to March of 2020 and John Lewis said to the crowd gathered on that same bridge to commemorate the events of March 7 1965. He said ‘Speak up. Speak out, get in the way. Get into good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.’”

Given the history of the phrase ‘good trouble,’ Professor Ryan proceeded to apply Lewis’s ideas to the Holy Cross mission statement, which she asserts she is “not an expert on.” “I’ve wondered in the case of the mission statement what purpose it serves, or could serve, and whether it is anything more than a marketing tool,” Professor Ryan stated. “And honestly, there have been times when I thought it was simply that, and nothing more.”

“But then there are other times when it seems to challenge us. And it seems to challenge us to be courageous and compassionate and determined and self critical,the Jesuit principle of being people ‘for and with others’ is maybe better known than the mission statement.”

While Professor Santos shared Holy Cross’s mission statement on his screen, Professor Ryan examined the significance of mission statements, and the College’s mission statement in conjunction with Catholic social teaching. 

“I don’t think the mission statement got delivered, miraculously, to Holy Cross, but it comes out of something called Catholic social teaching: something that has been part of my professional life and really my personal life, for many years now… If I were to say ‘okay, so what is this Catholic social teaching?’ here it is, the source is really this great commandment to love God and love one’s neighbor. It’s not two commandments, it’s one. It’s a single commandment. They’re inseparable.”

Professor Ryan then considered how a mission statement becomes activism: “How does a mission statement become activism? It doesn’t. But we can become activists, and we do it by walking, walking on our own to Edmund Pettus bridges, walking to the margins. Standing in places that are uncomfortable, to say the least. But deciding that we are going to put our beliefs where our feet are, and put our feet where our beliefs are.”

After Professor Ryan’s portion of the presentation, Isabella Corazzini from Worcester Interfaith spoke about intersectionality and her experiences in community organizing. She began community organizing at fourteen years old, when she attended some trainings and connected with others: “I thought it was interesting being, you know, a young woman of color at the time because it was so new to me to see so many young people, undocumented people – not just Latinos, but people who cross identities from all countries around the world.” 

“So, when I first really began to start organizing, I started to go to a lot of trainings. And I encourage you to continue to go to events like this, and to also pursue other trainings because really that’s where you’re going to start getting your knowledge. Something that I learned really early on in my organizing, is that in the community we believe in something called ‘prophetic leadership.’”

“Prophetic leadership is almost referring back to I would say specifically Jesus in the Bible, but also to talk about leaders in the past, who have spoken up about this. So we think about activism and organizing. It’s really something that we believe has been going on for a very long time, that it’s older than us, that people have been practicing. Recruiting people, speaking to masses, having meetings and sharing food. And of course, making sure that changes happen in our community.”

To conclude the webinar, students Yandi Pierre ’22 and Ashley Fortune ’23 spoke about an emergency fund they have created to support community members in crisis. They are collecting items such as shoes, clothes, canned foods, toiletries, and medical supplies. These items can be brought to the MSO office on the second floor of Hogan.

A recording of “’For and With Others’: How Does Our Mission Statement Become Activism?” will be made available for viewing later this week.

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