TRIBUTE TO JACKIE HUDSON, OP from her sisters in prison
Sister Jackie Hudson, OP – Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, Michigan, missioned to Ground Zero near Bangor Trident Naval Base, faith-filled and faithful peacemaker and organizer, strong preacher of truth, gentle and nonviolent woman, teacher, musician, plowshare activist and resister, was called before her unconditionally loving Judge on August 3, 2011.
Jackie crossed the fine line from life through death to life in the midst of her last action of many preceding it. With twelve others, she entered Y-12, Oak Ridge, Tennessee Uranium Processing and Production Plant on July 5, 2010. She was at trial from May 9-11 and incarcerated. During her time in two jails she found herself in solidarity with so many prisoners who lack health care. She suffered extreme pain and was placed in a medical confinement cell where she developed serious pneumonia and kidney failure. Her sentencing was scheduled for September 19. She will not appear before another earthly judge.
Jackie’s lawyer sought and gained release, and with companion and supporter Sue Ablao, she returned to Ground Zero. Unable to get relief and having difficulty breathing, Jackie was hospitalized, diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and could not continue with this depletion of her immune system.
She joined the cloud of witnesses and we are better for her presence in our lives and for giving her life to the end that others may live in peace with justice.
With love and gratitude,
Ardeth Platte, OP
Carol Gilbert, OP
Irwin County Detention Center
Some thoughts about Jackie
by Susan Crane, Dublin Federal Correctional Institution, August 10, 2011
Peter starts to walk on the water, and the strong wind frightens him, and he begins to sink.
The winds of violence, the winds of discouragement, of indifference and contempt for human life are all around us. It’s hard to even breath sometimes, much less keep on walking on unchartered waters.
But Jackie kept on walking, and encouraged us to walk with her. Her strong determined, clear, steadfast voice in the face of the winds of violence kept fear away. A voice of humor, a voice of disarmament, of getting on with things and not getting stuck in the details or confusion, not giving in to the temptation of inaction.
Jackie had a preacher’s voice—no surprise, as she was a Dominican Sister, the Order of Preachers. The Gospel in practice, the gospel of peace, of good news to the prisoners and the poor.
The gospel of the sacredness of life, of the 100 names of God. “Sacred the land, Sacred the water. Sacred the sky, holy and true.” Can’t you hear Jackie singing? “Sacred all life, sacred each other. All reflect God who is good.” I hear Jackie, and her Dominican Sisters, Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte singing! All life is sacred. All life is good, regardless of religion, race, nationality or gender.
I see Jackie’s smile as we go forward to walk on the Naval Base and begin to disarm our hearts and the nuclear weapons that hang over our heads like a sword of Damocles.
I hear the passion in Jackie’s voice outside the courthouse in Colorado, in Tennessee, in Tacoma, as she talked about nuclear weapons, which are immoral and illegal, and about the prison system in the US that warehouses Black, Hispanic and Native people in inordinate numbers.
Jackie wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t afraid of the courts or of what others might think. She wasn’t afraid to be who she was. She wasn’t afraid to journey with the most marginalized in prison. She wasn’t afraid to appear foolish. Really; disarm a Minuteman III missile? Walk into Y-12? Think the US should obey treaties it signed? Honor humanitarian international law? Think that nonviolence is a force more powerful? The US attorney in Colorado called these ideas sabotage. Others say… “naive, foolish.” But that didn’t seem to deter or bother Jackie.
Jackie’s humor and clarity sure kept us in the Disarm Now Plowshares on the path. She might be short, but she’s tall in humor and moral conviction.
When we sing, or pick up a microphone to talk, or walk onto a nuclear weapons site, or discern about nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear weapons, we’ll remember Jackie!
Jackie Hudson, Order of Preachers, Presente!
And from Leonard Eiger:
Disarm Now Plowshares (Media & Outreach) http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com
Jackie Hudson will always be remembered for willingly going wherever her conscience led her – even if it meant going to prison. She was a tireless advocate for change, change that would lead to a just and peaceful world.
Jacqueline Marie Hudson was born Nov. 19, 1934 in Saginaw, Mich. She was the second child of Francis and Ethlyn Brockless Hudson and had one brother, Frank.
Jackie entered the Grand Rapids Dominicans in 1952. She was an accomplished musician with a Masters in Music from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, as well as a Masters in Religious Education from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. She taught band, orchestra and choral music to junior high students for 29 years.
Throughout her years in Grand Rapids, she sang with a musical group of Dominican Sisters known as the Mellow D’s and played stand- up bass.
After leaving the shelter of convent life in 1969, Jackie and four other women rented a house in Grand Rapids. They worked a variety of jobs to support the congregation and pay the rent. Jackie found several jobs that allowed her to continue her peace and justice work and continue teaching. She worked part-time for “The Fat Man Detective Agency” doing office work and surveillance, West Michigan Market Research, gave music lessons, piano lessons, did piano tuning and babysitting.
In January 1982, Jackie heard about the dangers of nuclear radiation from Helen Caldicott, M.D. and Rosalie Bertell. After much deep discernment, Jackie decided that she would devote the rest of her life to working for a nuclear weapons free world. Jackie joined the Michigan Faith and Resistance Movement. She, along with her good friends Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and others, took the messages of the Gospel and Nonviolence to various churches and military bases around Michigan.
Jackie was not all seriousness though. She had a wicked sense of humor, sparkling blue eyes and a heartfelt laugh. She enjoyed gardening, spending time in the mountains and the ocean with Sue, a good mystery, cards, sports, and an occasional trip to the Casino to help with reparations.
In 1990, she became program coordinator for the Institute for Global Education in Grand Rapids where she met Sue Ablao and they began a 21 year partnership in work and in life. In 1993, after serving a 6 month sentence for an Easter morning Plowshares action at Wurtsmith Air Force base in Michigan, that state became nuclear free and they discussed what to do next. They decided to move to Sue’s home town of Bremerton WA, home of the Bangor Trident Nuclear Weapon System. As her work for disarmament continued, Jackie also worked as a bus driver for Kitsap Transit for 6 years.
In the mid 90′s Jackie was involved in the Hand’s Off Washington Campaign for equal rights for LGBT folks. She had been sentenced to community service for an action she did at the Federal Building in Seattle during the US invasion in Iraq and served that sentence as office manager at OutKitsap.
Jackie went to Iraq during the time of the sanctions with a Dominican delegation to see first-hand the effects of the sanctions and daily bombings on the ordinary people of that country and to bring that message of civilian death and devastation home to the American people.
After spending years in prison over the last 30 years Jackie saw and experienced the neglect and abuse that happens in our jail and prison systems. She became an advocate for re-forming the prison system.
Faith, Peace, Justice, and Equality were the cornerstones of Jackie’s life.
In 2007 Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility she received the Paul Beason Award. While the awards were appreciated, they also gave her yet another platform to spread the message of nuclear disarmament and nonviolent resistance to injustice.
Jackie never became disappointed or discouraged when her passion and focus on the cause of a nuclear-weapons-free world was not greeted with enthusiasm or support by all. She believed that whoever came to an event were the right people to be there, and whatever happened was the right outcome. She asked only that others “take just one step outside of your comfort zone” in their work for disarmament and social justice.
Jackie is survived by her brother Francis (Evelyn) Hudson of Midland, Michigan; her longtime companion, Sue Ablao, nieces, nephews, friends and Sisters in her Dominican Community.
Noted on Disarm Now Plowshares website: Sue Ablao wrote this obituary for Jackie.
Noted on Disarm Now Plowshares website: Anabel and David Dwyer sent this in honor of Jackie’s life, and it was included as an insert in the memorial bulletin on Saturday, August 13th.
So many years of faithful, courageous, kind, steadfast and joyful work to rid ourselves of hideous, grotesque nuclear weapons. Can we now take up your skillful lead to stop this idiocy?
Who can together affect the urgency for nuclear disarmament that we failed to pull off to save your exemplary life?
What of Jackie’s example of taking proper and measured responsibility for stopping the nuclear terror? What kind of society would even arrest, let alone punish any of the Y-12 13 or the Disarm Now Plowshares or Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares? Perversely painting such people as terrorists, saboteurs even trespassers is a blind, horribly jaded eye of a demented nuclear system. Even today the 66th anniversary of Nagasaki we sell nuclear weapons as “safe and secure” by being “reliable” for mass annihilation.
Jackie was not alone in intelligent, thorough, painful research, in hearing, yes really hearing Hibakusha, down-winders, atomic veterans, uranium miners, looking at the effects not only of actual use but also “experiments” and profit-taking for our elimination, systemic contamination, and inhuman stupidity. Yes starving children anywhere or in Sudan do have a connection with unacceptable misuse of resources. Sue Ablao and all the Ground Zero people and Plowshares People and Dominicans and many others understand too.
And once Jackie looked she could not, not act and not only based on the obvious immorality of the Trident or the Minuteman III or the refurbishment of the W-76 or nuclear armed B-52s flying over the Great Lakes. With kindness toward us all who are shackled by these horrors Jackie engaged many of many stripes and professions saying, “It is actually unethical and criminal not to insist on and demonstrate non violent nuclear disarmament processes in places where the extreme danger is perpetuated.”
In a little book that Judge Weeramantry, the former Vice President of the International Court of Justice wrote, “Why the Nuclear Danger Grows from Day to Day” are summarized essential nuclear disarmament facts and law. On the side of the fence “unauthorized” by the nuclear weapons manufacturers, DOE and Babcock and Wilcox, the Y-12 13 including Jackie committed the “crime” of citing and paraphrasing J. Weeramantry in the Declaration of Nuclear Independence July 5, 2010; “Under principles of democracy we exercise the right of every citizen of this republic and this planet to peacefully resist the nuclear threat, attacking as it does every core concept of human rights.”
We weep with these awful results of Jackie’s straightforward courage and sense. And too amid tears, we smile as we long have with Jackie’s savvy, open daring as she donned her Detroit Baseball cap or hazmat suit with the light bloodedness of a lover of music in pursuit of nonviolent disarmament one bloody weapon at a time.
Jackie and her cohorts make disarmament organizing an art, a dance of generous hearts. We are drawn to her because she softened our edges without losing the sharpness of her wit and focused action.
And she thanked us for affirming the obvious moral conclusions with obvious and consistent analysis of the law even as the courts and prosecutors flippantly persecute and she endured long bouts of asthma in moldy jail and suffered enormous untreated pain in a private prison in Georgia before sentencing? Jackie saw the ironies but dying for them is not a laughing matter.
About the Arab spring President Obama said (5/19/11), “You can’t have a real dialogue if parts of the real opposition are in jail.” Yet we seem unable 66 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki to even acknowledge let alone correct the most egregious mistakes of our times or to recognize that the real nonviolent direct opposition to nuclear weapons should be part of a real dialogue, not in jail in this country or anywhere else.
What was/is Jackie about? Surely we are not merely an older and smaller group that pushes the ways and necessity of complete nuclear disarmament from below from the grass roots at each nuclear site while ignorance, denial, delusion and institutional inertia slither along to oblivion.
So for us as activists and lawyers who work for nuclear disarmament let us heed. Heed the urgency. Heed the details. It is not acceptable that Jackie’s illness should have been exacerbated in jails and prisons and gone undiagnosed so that she could not survive.
Blatantly unfair trials such as that of the Y-12 13 and the Disarm Now Plowshares are not acceptable and none of these people should be in prison let alone punished before trial or sentencing. Similarly it is not acceptable that radioactive and chemical contamination at Oak Ridge and Kitsap-Bangor and the ever present danger of nuclear weapons at any phase of preparation should be exacerbated by refurbishment of the W-76 nuclear warheads at Y-12 for Trident submarines.
Here as anywhere, when it upholds and supports plans for mass murder a la Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist, “The law is a ass—a idiot… and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience.” And the law is also cruel when it punishes citizens through contorted upside down trials. How can we still punish people for peaceably pointing out that as a matter of elementary customary and common humanity and as incorporated directly through statutes, the Constitution and formal treaties and agreements, it is necessary that we adhere to the basic rules of humanitarian law and get on with nuclear disarmament?
Jackie faced the ugliness of the perverse reaction to reality with beauty and love. Even as she was very sick she wanted us to concentrate on systematically completing nuclear disarmament.
In Jackie’s honor and with our own common decency, let us get ourselves together and effectively and massively support campaigns for good-faith nuclear disarmament keyed for success by groups such as Ground Zero and OREPA who have knowledge of and experience at specific nuclear sites. When closure and clean up of these sites is well on its way, governments need only formalize the process through treaties completing nuclear disarmament.
We love you and thank you all,
Anabel and David Dwyer
August 9, 2011