I WANT TO thank Sojourners for honoring the life and work of Nellie Jean Sindab in the January-February 1997 issue ("Labors of Love").
Far too often young people only see and hear about one model of leadership: the charismatic celebrity spokesmen and women. Yet the realities of our neighborhoods, cities, states, and the nation suggest that the future of peace, justice, and equality resides in the leadership and example of the organizersisters (and brothers) like Jean Sindab who quietly but consistently get the job done.
I only met Jean once, but I first encountered her life and work in the fall of 1983 when I arrived at Yale University to begin my doctoral studies in political science. As a young black woman activist-intellectual attempting to navigate the treacherous waters of white male academic elitism, I found only one other black woman in recent institutional memory who had maintained her dignity, integrity, and political commitments while pursuing the knowledge and credentials to further the cause of freedom and social justice. Her name, I was told repeatedly, was Jean Sindab. Her example provided me with a model of courage to stay the course.
In the tradition of Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ella Baker, we now honor Nellie Jean Sindab as the struggle for peace, justice, and equality continues.