Mathew H. Ahmann (1931-2001) was an American Catholic layman who initiated the 1963 National Conference on Religion and Race and worked to establish the civil rights movement as a moral cause. He was one of four white men who joined the “Big Six” to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.
Ahmann gave a speech at the march that day. Speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial he asked this question:
Who can call himself a man, and take part in a system of segregation which frightens the white man into denying what he knows to be right, into denying the law of his God?”
I give thanks for Mathew Ahmann who used his leadership gifts to help move the Catholic Church to become involved in the civil rights movement and, in so doing, helped to change our country to become a more just society.