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Nebraska Walk for Life draws large crowd

Members of Cathedral Parish in Lincoln were some of 3,000 people who took their message to the streets Jan. 17 at the Nebraska Walk for Life. Following the walk, David Bereit, founder of Coalition for Life, encouraged the crowd to continue to spread the pro-life message in their communities. Photo by Kimberly Jansen

By Kimberly Jansen
Special to The Catholic Voice

For one hour last weekend, the streets of downtown Lincoln resembled the sidewalks of Birmingham, Alabama, 41 years ago.

In 1963, concerned citizens called attention to the injustice of segregation by marching in the streets of Birmingham. Today they battle abortion, with more than 3,000 of them taking part in the Nebraska Walk for Life Jan. 17.

The pro-lifers gathered at the base of the State Capitol to defend their cause. Touting a variety of printed and homemade signs, they then marched to the University of Nebraska several blocks away.

Following the walk, David Bereit of College Station, Texas, told the crowd that the connection between the Civil Rights and pro-life movements is clear: both were created to fight for the most basic of human rights.

He said the key to victory is likewise the same.

Bereit, who resigned from the pharmaceutical industry to work full-time in the pro-life movement, summarized the lunch counter sit-ins and marches that characterized the grassroots effort in the 1960s.

"Thousands of courageous people took to the streets, not because of convenience but because of conviction," he said.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself acknowledged that "the sound of the explosion in Birmingham reached all the way to Washington," Bereit said.

"What started in one city culminated later that year in the March on Washington," he said, where Dr. King made his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of 200,000 people. The following year, Congress signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"The lawmakers' minds weren't suddenly changed," Bereit said. "That legislation was written in the streets by people who believed in justice."

To achieve similar results in the fight against abortion, Bereit recommended six "critical components." He fervently announced each component and then asked the audience to repeat after him:

It's necessary.

It's possible.

It's you.

It's hard.

It's worth it.

It's time.

At first, the crowd's response was rather weak, to which Bereit responded, "I'm from Texas. I like enthusiasm!" The crowd laughed and replied wholeheartedly.

Bereit called the six components a "roadmap" and proceeded to expand upon each one with a variety of stories from his work as founder of the non-profit Coalition for Life.

He ended his talk encouraging each individual to join the battle by praying, volunteering at a local pregnancy center, distributing information in the schools, writing letters to the editor, offering a pro-life booth at a county fair, and voting for pro-life politicians.

Bereit reminded his audience that the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement began on the streets of one city.

"Because people of faith and conviction were ready to stand up against an evil system, our nation was forever changed," he said.

"This weekend, as we prepare to celebrate the holiday that memorializes Dr. King, we rally together on the streets and sidewalks of Lincoln, Nebraska, not out of comfort or convenience, but conviction to stand up against the greatest injustice of our day…the tragedy of abortion," he said. "What begins here today in Lincoln can forever change America.

"The only question each of us now has to answer is this: Are we up to the challenge?"

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