DALLAS - Wanda Banks gets really excited when she talks about how well her daughter is doing in her Cuban medical school. By the time she finishes, everybody is convinced that Darnna Banks really is super!
Sister Banks also has a special place in her heart, she explains, for Reverend Lucius Walker. It was Walker, on an earlier visit, who first told Darnna that she could get her medical degree on full scholarship in Havana. Reverend Walker visited old friends like Wanda Banks and others at St Luke's United Methodist Community Center on June 9. He was touring Dallas to tell more people about the struggles for peace, civil rights, justice, and international solidarity.
In his role as head of Pastors for Peace since 1967, Reverend Walker has made friends throughout the movement as he shepherded caravans through the states and southward to deliver equipment and supplies to our neighbors in Mexico, Central America, and, most often, Cuba. Reverend Charles Stovall, host of the event, talked about the courage of the "caravanistas" as they travel to faraway places and incur the displeasure of America's wealthy rulers. Reverend Walker was even shot, once, in the jungle of Nicaragua, probably by President Reagan's "contra" mercenaries!
The Reverend Walker is a model of humility. People leaned forward as he spoke, softly, about his commitment to his Christian faith, even when it leads him far away from safety and public approval. He said that everyone should live out their commitment to the Gospel and live out their commitment to justice." Pressed for more explanation of his theology, the modest minister replied, "I'm not a great theologian. I just take what Jesus said seriously."
"Jesus and his disciples were the first communists," he told the group quietly, "Not Communists with a capital "C" because that didn't come along until later.... But Jesus made it very clear that our job description as Christian disciples is to ... love one another, serve one another, and work in the interests of those who are the least by the world's standards."
If there was any hardness in Reverend Walker's comments, they came when he talked about the embargo against Cuba. He quoted the Pope as saying that the embargo is "monstrously immoral." He compared it to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and laid the blame for both squarely on imperialism. "To be silent in the face of all this," he said, "is a total violation of what Jesus told us to do!"
Photo: Jim Lane. Wanda Banks was really glad to see Lucious Walker.