A Disciple of Justice in Jackson
Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Katie has very fond memories of her childhood. She has an older and a younger sibling, the former living in Nashville and the younger in New Orleans. She went to Jackson Preparatory School, one of the well-known private schools in the suburbs of Jackson.
Raised in a Methodist Christian family, Katie talked about how family and community were really important to her growing up.
The Church has always been a big part of Katie's life. She was baptized at the Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson, the same church her parents got married in. She remembers spending a lot of free time there, whether that be practicing with her church choir or getting involved with some of the church's youth programs. It instilled within her a passion to serve others through the outlet of the church: a career as a Methodist Minister.
Despite living a comfortable life with her family and community, Katie recognizes that not everyone in Jackson had the same privilege. Jackson is a sharply segregated city with an underfunded public education system, resulting in public schools with disproportionately higher underpriveldged minority populations. In contrast, wealthier, often white families can afford to send their children to elite private schools like Jackson Prep or Jackson Academy.
But this wasn't something that Katie was always aware of. It was through her courses and experiences at Millsaps College, what she playfully calls "the liberal bastion of higher education in the state of Mississippi," where she learned more about the history of racial politics, civil rights and institutional racism.
Her experiences in college forced her to expand her understanding of social justice past her own church community to those neighboring her's as well. Her experiences learning about other communities redefined the term "social justice" for her, and equipped her with a new resolve to help those who are underserved.
For Katie, understanding Jackson's past and expanding her worldview were not the only big change that came from college. Early on in her undergraduate education, she came out as Lesbian to her close friends, then to select family members, and eventually, publicly. While she admits it was a difficult process opening up to her conservative parents, Katie believes she has known of her sexuality for a long time.
I also spoke to Katie at length about reconciling her Christian values and teachings with her own sexuality. She believes the belief that the teachings of the bible and homosexuality are compatible. The notion that Christianity is anti-LGBTQ+, according to Katie, is purported by people who take the Bible as the literal word of God as opposed to a fluid text, translated from a multitude of languages and transformed over time.
Despite the fault lines that may exist between her and other Americans, Katie still reaffirms her belief in an America that comes together in the face of adversity, in the name of faith and community.