What happened when an artist and a writer took a Sojourn to the South?  

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Pamela Chatterton-Purdy is a visual artist and Dr. David Purdy is a Methodist minister. They raised four children, including two adopted children of color, one of whom was born to an American GI and a Vietnamese mother during the Vietnam War. Their journey was first described in their 1987 book Beyond the Babylift, which now has been updated in the recently published Adoption in Black and White.

Their experiences as White parents raising two Black sons and two White daughters within the racist US culture exposed them to the complexities, mythology and traumas of white privilege. They have devoted their lives to social and racial justice.

The dynamics of our family was not isolated from the cultural context and the cultural context was always invading our family. It was like bombs being lobbed at us.                                                                         Dr. David Purdy and Pamela Chatterton-Purdy

In 2004, they took the Sojourn to the South trip which inspired Pam to begin working on her series, Icons of the Civil Rights Movement, an extraordinary artistic endeavor which you can experience here on the Living Whole Online website. David did the research and wrote the summaries for each Icon.

In some ways, the pandemic has humanized us all and shown us how fragile life is, and at the same time, how important we are to each other and what we can do to be helpful to each other as well.
                                                                                                Dr. David Purdy

Here are some of the themes that Pam, David and Kathryn explore during this conversation:

  • How is the pandemic influencing our ways of connecting and our sense of well-being?
  • What is the National Race Amity Institute in Atlanta, Georgia? What Icons is Pam creating for the Institute?
  • What is the Zion Union Heritage Museum on Cape Cod in Massachusetts?
  • What disparities have been spotlighted during the pandemic?
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in part because of public outcry about whose murder?
  • What are personal piety and social holiness? How do these concepts inspire work for justice?
  • When you want to work as an activist, what are some spiritual dilemmas that you may face?

Anyone who considers learning something new about this…reacting, getting in touch with their own reactions about it, their world will get bigger and we need to, as a human race, get bigger in our worlds in order to love one another, in order to develop human community in this world. There is no other way.

I have great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.

Septima Clark (as spotlighted in Icons of the Civil Rights Movement)

We had people of all backgrounds coming together, all races, all status of life. And coming together there was a kind of quiet dignity and a kind of sense of caring and a feeling of joint responsibility.

Dorothy Height (as spotlighted in Icons of the Civil Rights Movement)

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