A widow, a judge, and the Poor People’s Campaign

On March 4, 2019, I had the honor of speaking at the Poor People’s Hearing organized by the Alabama Poor People’s Campaign: A National call for Moral Revival. I was asked to speak briefly on the distorted moral narrative in our state and country.

Here is the text:

My name is Kelley Hudlow. I was born in Mobile and I live in Birmingham. So now I’ve given you my Alabama credentials.

And as I drove in my car to come here tonight south on 65, I passed that big Confederate battle flag flapping in the wind. And I came through downtown Montgomery, I drove past the historic state capitol where I had the pleasure of being with the Alabama Poor People’s Campaign on many a Monday and Monday night later at the jail waiting for folks to get out. And I looked at that real tall Confederate monument that stands there — visible signs and symptoms of the sickness that is in our state and in our country. Every single one of these testimonies that we have heard this evening are the results of that sickness, of that distortion of who we are and what our morals are.

Our legislature and our legislators will arrive for work tomorrow. And they will begin the work of advancing policies that continue regressive and oppressive taxation. They will ignore the poisoning of the ground and the water in our poorest communities. They will perpetuate a system of incarceration that is locking up generations of our African American community. They will ignore the poor and they will show up to church on Sunday morning and probably hear comfortable words from the pulpit.

It is a symptom of the illness of the distorted narrative, not just in our state but in our country. One that comforts them in their oppression of other people, one that continues a narrative of division and violence and fear and that the only way you can get something in this world is if you can fight hard enough to take it from somebody else.

And since they are not here tonight — we invited them to come to this church and they didn’t — I still would like to take them to church, and since we are in a church, we are going to do it.

Jesus tells a story about a widow that shows up to a judge and says, “I want justice.” And that judge was not in the business of justice, it seems to be a symptom sometimes of the judicial system. And she said, “I’m not going away.” And she kept coming back, again and again and again, and that judge finally said: “I give up and I will give you what you demand of me.” And she went home.

Now I invite our leaders of this community and I invite my brothers and sisters in the clergy, the Lord Jesus is calling you to a different way. But if you don’t want to go easy, will go hard.

It won’t be one widow that shows up and won’t go away. It won’t be one poor person, it won’t be one person from Lowndes County that can’t drink their water. It won’t be one person that grieves the loss of their child. It won’t be one person, it’s going to be all of us, again and again. Tomorrow, and the next session, and the next session. And if you don’t want to hear uncomfortable words, just do right. Do what the Lord requires of you. Stop dividing us by hatred and fear and instead return to your Christian morals, return to the community where Jesus says they will know you are one of mine by the love you show to this world.

Because we are a great state, and we are a great people, and we love each other here and it shouldn’t take a tornado to remind us of that. The emergency in this state and in this country is not at the southern border, it’s that we have politicians that are afflicted with being comfortable and have stopped listening to the people. So, we are going to be like that widow that went to that unjust judge, today, tomorrow, and the next day. And we won’t be alone. Wherever you go I go with you. Wherever you need me to show up, I will show up and carry the burden along with you. And we won’t be silent anymore.

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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