Who was Ethel Lance: In this morning’s New York Times, Lizette Alvarez offers a profile of Ethel Lance, who died in Charleston last week.
People admire people like this. We wish the professors would stop telling these love-and-forgiveness people to stop discussing their values:
ALVAREZ (6/26/15): One by one, Ms. Lance’s five grandchildren stood in front of the congregation at Royal Missionary Baptist Church, where her body lay before the altar in a shimmering silver gown, and praised her spirit of generosity, which they hoped would be embraced by all. One of her granddaughters said the family wished her legacy to stretch beyond the bullets and bloodshed at Emanuel.Ethel Lance “worked for decades as a custodian.” She didn’t finish high school. We thought of Dr. King’s famous statement about what it takes to serve.
“I want my grandmother’s legacy to be a catalyst for this country to change,” she said.
Another granddaughter recalled the grits, bacon and sausage Ms. Lance cooked for her, and the love and care her grandmother showered on her after her own mother died. “My granny was the other side of my heart,” she said.
Ms. Lance worked for decades as a custodian at Gaillard Auditorium before retiring, and spent 30 years working at Emanuel. She did not finish high school, but she made sure her children and grandchildren went to college.
What does it take to serve? This is part of the way Lance made sure her children and grandchildren got to college:
“At Emanuel, Ms. Lance was the sexton, in charge of keeping her church clean seven days a week, ‘and if God had given her eight, she would have been there eight days,’ Rev. Goff said.”
People admire people like this.
For centuries, our benighted ancestors told us there were two different kinds of people in this country.
There aren’t two different kinds of people! That said, many people have received a learning experience in the past week from the “love and forgiveness” brigade. They’re being exposed to one of this country’s greatest moral and intellectual traditions, with a slightly crabby group up north begging the families to stifle themselves.
“I want my grandmother’s legacy to be a catalyst for this country to change,” one of the grandchildren said.
Recalling what Dr. King said: Delivered from within that tradition:
KING (2/4/68): Everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.