Several dozen protesters lined the curbs at the intersection of 14th Street and Peachtree Road in downtown Atlanta Friday - it was the sixth anniversary of their weekly anti-war protests at this spot. "Honk for Peace" signs drew a chorus from passing cars. A man on a ladder held a scroll of names, slowly unfurling it as a woman read an hours-long litany of the American combat dead (it started at 7 a.m. and ended after noon). Workers on their lunch breaks from nearby offices moved awkwardly through the crowd.
A number of ICS folks turned up: school founder Sister Patty Caraher, Cathy Smith, head of the school's intensive School Within the School (SWS) tutoring program, four SWS tutors, and one of Sister Patty's fellow nuns. The school was conceived, more than a decade ago, by a group of educators and longtime social activists. For many, that activism extends beyond education and refugee issues.
For Sister Patty, it started with her grandmother. During the Depression, the Irish immigrant used to bake bread for hobos who gathered on her back porch. She told her granddaughter: "One of them is God." So Patty spent hours on the porch with the homeless men, wondering which it could be. "She had me searching for God" in other people, Sister Patty says. "She was preparing her little granddaughter for a different kind of world."
The south side of 14th Street was a wind tunnel. So after several minutes clutching their signs like sails, and one sign lost to a strong gust, the women headed to the more crowded north corner, where the soldiers' names were being read and cardboard coffins littered the sidewalk. There, the spry septuagenarian chatted up fellow protesters.
"Can you believe we've been coming here for six years?" Sister Patty said, as a truck went honking by.