“It’s good to see a whole table of abolitionists,” said Abe Bonowitz in his toast to kick off the last supper before the four-day Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty.
As I looked down that long table I saw blondes, brunettes, people with balding gray hair, and a young woman with electric blue hair. Some were eating vegetarian meals, others were chowing down on lamb, chicken, and salmon. Atheists, Catholics, spiritual eclectics, and members of the Church of the Brethren broke bread together. A realtor sat across from a volunteer activist, a student next to a nurse. People had traveled from as far as Alaska to as close as ten blocks down the street. Texas, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, Michigan, DC, New York, Oregon, Florida, Canada and Puerto Rico were all represented. And there was even a man who says he is from “a big red truck” (hopefully more on that to come in the next few days!). Each came with his or her own talents and commitments, stories and personality.
Illana Naylor is a nurse from Manassas, Virginia who has been working on the abolitionist cause for about 15 years now. She and two of her friends from Manassas have been participating in the fast and vigil since it began 11 years ago. She will be stopping by the steps of the Supreme Court whenever she has a spare moment between her nursing and her graduate school paper on global warming and health. Balancing activism and the other parts of her life has always been a challenge, but over the years her contributions have added up to quite a resume—planting and maintaining a peace pole near her community, helping organize the Journey of Hope when it came to Virginia, participating in the fast and vigil for over a decade, and her most recent accomplishment, inspiring me, the twenty-year-old student sitting next to her at the last supper.
Check back later today for reports from today's noon rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court!