By Susan Ciancio
Nellie Gray and Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson have a lot in common, and there’s no better time than the time leading up to the March for Life to learn about these two women.
Both were incredibly strong women who stood up for their beliefs and gave voice to preborn babies in a world that told them they should believe otherwise. And both proved that one person CAN make a difference in this world.
Nellie Gray was so saddened and disgusted by the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion that she began the March for Life a year later. Together with friends, she organized what has become the nation’s largest, yearly peaceful protest. Every year, marchers travel to Washington, DC, to show their solidarity with preborn babies. They hold signs and banners. They pray. They smile and laugh with friends and with strangers who have become instant friends. And they vow to work hard at building a culture that respects all human beings. They do this because they love. And there is no greater impetus for an action.
These people don’t march to hurt women or to take away “rights”—as abortion is not a “right.” They don’t march to cheapen or devalue a woman’s place in society. They love women! They march to protect babies, to help others understand that preborn babies are human beings too, and to teach mothers (and everyone else!) that abortion is a terrible genocide that scourges our nation.
The March for Life has continued strong for nearly 50 years, and despite some pandemic restrictions, it will go on as planned this Friday. If you cannot get to DC, you can find a local march. If you cannot attend any march, we urge you to pray fervently during that day and to watch one on TV. God hears our prayers. He understands our grief. And He will come to our rescue.
Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson
Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson was an African American woman born in Texas in 1926—a time when racism was rampant throughout the country. Despite this, Jefferson graduated from high school at just 15 and began college, earning a master’s degree in biology by the time she was 18. She later became the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Jefferson soon became active in pro-life work, understanding—because of her history in biology—that preborn babies are indeed human beings.
In a 2003 interview, Jefferson said: “I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live.”
Jefferson spent nearly her entire life working for others and teaching about the humanity of the preborn baby. Her life should be an inspiration to us as we look toward the future of the pro-life movement.
Who are our heroes?
Our children look for heroes today, and unfortunately we see them idolizing movie stars, singers, and athletes. But the heroes for our children should be saints and people like Gray and Jefferson who championed human life. We owe it to our children to teach them about people who stand up for others. We owe it to them to teach them to emulate good and moral people and to help build a culture of life. These two women prove that one person can make a difference. And in a country as broken as ours is today, we need strong men and women who can stand up for all that is good and moral.
Take a look around. The country we live in has changed dramatically the last couple years. Most of us are distressed by recent events surrounding elections, riots, hatred, racism, and violence in the streets. But this is when God needs us to be most like Him. And this is when we need Him the most. He can make good come from this evil. He can help us bring morality back to our nation. But first we need to trust. Then we need to act.
Nothing will change if we don’t act. If we sit passively and let things happen, our country will degrade further into moral chaos. But if we act, we can effect change. Just as Christ called each of the Apostles and commanded each to be fishers of men, He calls us by name to do the same.
How do we begin? We do God’s work here on earth. We start in our families by teaching our children about the faith and about the amazing people they should emulate. The Culture of Life Studies Program has phenomenal lessons about saints and also lessons on Mildred Jefferson and Nellie Gray. These easily downloadable lessons will help your children see that there is more to life than what they see on TV and on social media. In addition, we talk about the faith. We pattern our lives after the saints’ lives. We read the Bible as a family—or listen to this awesome podcast that will walk you through the Bible in a year. We pray together. We volunteer. We teach our children that they can and MUST make a difference in their world.
Then we apply these lessons and Christ’s teachings to our words and actions in our day-to-day dealings with people outside our families. We let them see the light and joy of Christ through us. We teach them that a world devoid of morality is a world that will only end up in pain and chaos. This is not what Christ wants for us.
It is our duty as parents and as human beings to follow God’s teachings and to teach our children how to stand up for others. And it is our duty to show them how they can make a difference and to help them understand that every single person—born and preborn—is a valuable member of God’s family.
Let us never forget the inspiring words of those who put God first, and let us always have hope in this broken world, for “nothing will be impossible for God.”