Photos by Jennifer Wong
Nuns on the Bus is a project of NETWORK, a Catholic advocacy group that lobbies for social welfare. Sister Simone Campbell (second from left), the group’s executive director, organized the first tour in 2012 in response to social-service cuts proposed by U.S. Representative Paul Ryan. This year, the group launched its fifth tour to call on elected officials to “Mend the Gaps” in income, health care, access to affordable housing, and democratic participation (above).
Madison, Wisconsin At tour stops, people share stories of how safety-net gaps have impacted their lives. Lynne MacAdam and Jini Kai speak of Jini’s sister Margaret, who lost her life to colon cancer. Margaret suspected something was wrong but never saw a doctor until it was too late, having lost her health insurance when she lost her job. The Affordable Care Act had just been passed but was not yet in effect.
Toledo, Ohio Julian Mack, a Black Lives Matter activist invited to the nuns’ rally, spoke about building on the efforts of civil rights activists who came before: “We are reaching a point where I really believe that things will shift, and things are on the verge of shifting. But we have to all be active participants.”
Cleveland, Ohio In an election cycle marked by vitriol and hate, Nuns on the Bus kicked off the Republican National Convention in its host city, Cleveland, by linking hands to “circle the city in love.” Says Campbell, “I felt like we were breathing in all the pain and fear and trying to breathe out the love.”
Cleveland, Ohio (l) The 2016 tour stopped in twenty-three cities in thirteen states, accumulating hundreds of signatures along the way. At the end of the tour, Campbell praised the work of activists she met and thanked “all the people who signed the bus, all the people that have committed to mending the gaps.”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (r) The nuns also traveled to the Democratic National Convention, where they tried to bridge political division by asking questions over glasses of lemonade, including, “Who in your family is the hardest to talk to about politics and why?”