Ethical Hero – Dorothy Day

Published: November 29, 2018

By Jim Lichtman
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After scanning the list of individuals in this column, I realized that women were underrepresented. This is the second in a series of women whose contributions made a difference.

An American journalist, social activist and Roman Catholic, “On May 1, 1933,” The New York Times writes (July 29), “during the height of the Great Depression, Day stood in Union Square handing out the first copies of her newspaper, The Catholic Worker, aimed at spreading the message of the movement she was starting to build, a movement that sought ‘a new society in the shell of the old.’ ”

However, Day had quite a life long before founding The Catholic Worker.

“In 1917,” Wikipedia reports, she was imprisoned as a member of suffragist Alice Paul’s nonviolent Silent Sentinels. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. She practiced civil disobedience, which led to additional arrests in 1955, 1957, and in 1973 at the age of seventy-five.”

On an address to the U.S. Congress in 2015, Pope Francis included Day in a list of laudable Americans, along with Abraham Lincoln, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and theologian Thomas Merton.


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