Opening Words from Sun. January 31 by Joyce Best
I am Joyce Best. a proud member of the DIVERSE Ethical Society of St. Louis. When my husband Steve and I decided to leave Methodism; we looked around for a community that shared our values. We found the Ethical Society met that need. We became active. Steve and I both served on the Board and joined groups where we were pleased to work with outstanding and diverse people.
Unfortunately our Society is not very diverse racially but we are very diverse in other ways. I am reminded of some that involve me:
- We have political non-conformists… Perhaps Socialists.
- Our economic status is varied. As a social worker and teacher/librarian, Steve and I often struggled financially. We were fortunate to buy our house in University City in 1960 for $10,500.
- We come from urban and rural backgrounds.
I grew up in rural northeast Nebraska in Belden, population 300. There were many diverse eastern European farmers but I remember the first Black person I saw. I learned about Black writers and prominent Black people and issues from reading The Negro Digest in our dentist’s office. Why he had a subscription I will never know, but I am glad he did.
My family had a general store. There was no library but we had a swimming pool. We worked hard with few conveniences. Washday involved boiling white shirts in a copper boiler on the cookstove fueled with corncobs. Education was important and my three siblings and I attended the nearby State Normal College at Wayne.
- As a pacifist, I firmly believe in non-violent actions to solve problems. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has been an important part of my life for 60 years. I have attended national and regional conferences, working in many ways with dedicated, committed women.
- People can work for racial integration in many ways. In 1953 our family moved into a four-family flat at 5110 Palm street. There were the owners, Marian and Charlie Oldham, an inter-racial couple, one black family, and two white families. We tried to prove racial integration was possible. WE FAILED! IT DID NOT WORK. White families fled, opening good housing for many Black people.
When we moved in 1960, Jaina and Randy were integrating the neighborhood children.
There are many more ways we are diverse.
Steve and I were among those who started the World Community Center on Skinker where many peace and justice organizations have offices and meeting space. Personally, I support public education, The Lentz Peace Research Association, Missourians for Single Payer Health Care, Death with Dignity, and many other causes.
Our many differences do not separate us. We do not just tolerate but accept others and learn to appreciate differences in our DIVERSE St. Louis Ethical Society.