Skip to main content

Sister Antona Ebo

“I am here because I am a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness…. I’m here today because yesterday [in Saint Louis] I voted.”

On Sunday March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers and local police beat and bloodied civil rights activists who had begun a 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. Immediately following the “Bloody Sunday” attack, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. issued a call for church leaders around the country to come to Selma and to join in the struggle for civil rights.

On March 10th, Sister Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary, took off from Saint Louis, Missouri to Selma on a chartered plane that she joked had been pulled out of mothballs. The March 11th cover of The New York Times featured a photo of Sister Ebo marching alongside other protesters. That photo would become an iconic image of the struggle for voting rights.

Throughout her life — both before and after Selma — Sister Ebo, who died in 2017, was a civil rights pioneer. She credited the Holy Spirit for guiding her throughout her life and often sang the black spiritual, “I’m Gonna Do What the Spirit Says Do” whenever she talked to audiences about her experience in Selma and the ongoing struggle for racial justice. Indeed, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may be the only explanation for how Sister Ebo ended up in Selma

To learn more, download our resource packet. Women Witnesses for Racial Justice resource packets include:

  • Biography/Essay
  • Questions for reflection and conversation
  • Original art by Chloe Becker
  • Prayer Service
  • Suggestions for taking action in your community


Artist: Chloe Becker. Comissioned by FutureChurch.