Sr. Michele Craig, MFIC

“…and so it’s like everything else, I feel it has to start at the grassroots.”

 

Interviewee: Sr. Michele Craig, MFIC 

Interviewer: Mary Rose D., Grade 11

Interview Date: October 17, 2014

Interview Location: Mount Alvernia, Newton, MA

The Sister that I interviewed is Sr. Michele Craig. Sr. Michele Craig is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she taught history at an inner city school. She has lived through many wars such as WWII and the Korean War. Since the Farm Workers Movement took place during her time at the high school, she became involved in many demonstrations for the Farm Workers Movement. She stood outside grocery stores protesting the company that were mistreating the farm workers.

When she was teaching at the high school in Philadelphia the Civil Rights Movement was sweeping the nation. At this time, the Black Panthers were formed and some of her older students were part of this group. The school, however, did not agree with the philosophies of the Black Panthers as the high school attempted to avoid any association with violence. To better understand the Civil Rights Movement, Sr. Michele Craig and the school created a new curriculum to better understand racism. The curriculum was called “Non-Western Cultures for the Appreciation for Difference.”

 

“Activist is being attentive to what is, wherever you are.”

“We stood outside of grocery stores trying to make people aware of their policies and hoping they would not buy produce that was not from the farm workers.”

“The church has wonderful documents and what I have felt very often is that we have written them, but we have not done a lot to implement them, and so it’s like everything else, I feel it has to start at the grassroots.”

“And at the time the Black Panthers were active in the city and some of our older students became involved with them. We did not agree with the philosophy of the Black Panthers and their violence, so we had to deal with that.”

“I was chosen as the teacher from our school to work with this woman, and in trying to understand racism, and whereas black is beautiful, and all the parodies of that, we called Non-Western cultures, for the appreciation of difference.”

“It was amazing what we were able to accomplish with the students to understand the cultures of people and that race was really a physical thing, it did not determine intelligence or your moral code, or anything like that.”

“Working with the public school system in Philadelphia was a big thing and it showed them that what we were trying to do in the Catholic schools, we had a faith commitment to it and realize that this was really trying to live the Gospel. But we were not pushing religion down somebody’s throat, but that we could work as human beings in the human family for the betterment of all.”