Speaking to 200 social justice advocates, Gene Nichol delivered a powerful luncheon address at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar held April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh. He received the Council’s Faith Active in Public Life Award at the Seminar for his “courageous, dedicated, humane and compassionate witness in the political arena.” Rev. George Reed, the Council’s Executive Director, introduced Nichol by saying in part, “To know Gene is to see the embodiment of Catholic social teaching about social justice and the common good.”
Nichol is the Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. He also founded the Center for Civil Rights at UNC-CH in 2001 and was Dean of the Law School from 1999-2005. Nichol, who is Catholic, is also the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law.
Nichol challenged those present to continue fighting to make equality real for the most vulnerable among us:
“Over forty percent of children of color live in poverty in North Carolina. A simple declarative sentence that chains us as a people – or ought to. We have child poverty numbers far greater than any other advanced democracy… And we have greater inequality, gaps between rich and poor, than any advanced nation…
We are the richest, the poorest, and the most unequal nation in the world. And we are also ironically, in our Declaration of Independence, in the Gettysburg Address, in the Fourteenth Amendment, in our revered Pledge of Allegiance, are also the country that brags the most about its foundational commitment to equality…
This is not the first time that the people in this room have been called upon to fight against injustice against the odds. I hope we will recommit ourselves to this more powerful and elevated form of obligation, believing as God’s children that we are all in this together.”