Tuesday, August 4, 2020

We must honor Flannery for growing. Hide nothing of what she was, and use that to teach.—Alice Walker, statement issued to Loyola University Maryland, July 27, 2020

I'm sharing this since Loyola University's decision to take Flannery O'Connor's name off of a building with very little thought and very great haste dismayed me a lot. A lot of this is the result of at least one article about her being racist. First Things has been commenting on this really well.

However, I was delighted to see this letter sent in Flannery's defense to Loyola, signed by 200 noted writers, literary scholars, theologians, professors, religious leaders. Scroll down at the link for the letter itself. A little excerpt:
Walker praises O’Connor “for growing,” for having the courage and humility to confront, through her writings, her own shortcomings and prejudices and to critique them, via the characters she invented in her stories. Finally, Walker, consummate teacher that she is, urges us to use this as a teachable moment. We are all desperately in need of conversion and transformation. O’Connor died young, 39 years old, in 1964 at the height of the Civil Rights movement. As she lay on her death bed, she was writing story after story about white racists who arrive at the difficult knowledge of their sin. Reading these stories, we watch her coming to a painful but necessary understanding of herself.
For anyone who is interested, Scott and I have several episodes of A Good Story is Hard to find where we discuss some of her short stories.

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