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Author Of Dead Man Walking Keynote Speaker

By Floyd Miller



Sister Helen Prejean author of Dead Man Walking and death penalty opponent was the keynote speaker for Just People, Inc. Banquet.Sister Prejean’s message was one of grace, hope and forgiveness.She relayed several stories that involved counseling and walking with four different men as they took their final walk to death. She said that you have to get in your head that these men are about to die because as you look at them they are as healthy as anyone until the drugs are administered. It’s not like watching a loved one die in a hospital that you can visually see getting weaker each day. She said, “the death house {{more}} taught her to live in the moment.”She believes that people on death row are “just people too” and maybe some should be locked up forever but not killed. She said that 87% of the people that are executed are executed for killing white people, 50% of the homicides are against people of color, and the states that had slavery do 80% of the executions. Sister Prejean said that we are all just people and we should get to know and try to understand all people. She said Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, “They would be poor no longer”. She quoted Ghandi who said, “Poverty kills more people than bullets”. Poverty leaves people feeling hopeless and helpless. She related that it is the hopelessness that leads to a life of crime.Sister Prejean believes that we have to put a face on people in order to change. She related the story of Bud Welch. Bud had been very distressed, sad, and bitter because his daughter had been killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. One night as Mr. Welch watched TV he saw another man that was torn up and grief stricken as much as he was. Mr. Welch asked for a meeting with this gentleman and a couple weeks later they met. They walked down a country lane toward each other with arms outstretched they embraced and sobbed. That other man was Bill McVeigh, the father of Timothy McVeigh. After all, Mr. Welch and Mr. McVeigh are “just people”.This brings me back to the organization “Just People, Inc.”. Just People is a faith based organization providing educational, vocational, and personal services to youth and adults who are seeking to overcome circumstances related to poverty. They believe that all people are created in the image of God and are of immeasurable value. Mr. Anthony Harris was recognized as one of those individuals that is working to correct mistakes he has made.

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