This is part two of a several part series depicting the life, events and wisdom of local Civil Rights heroine, Dr. Frances Pratt. Dr. Pratt, of Nyack, sat down with The Rockland County Times to share her rise from a child growing up in the segregated south to the first African-American head nurse at the Nyack Hospital Emergency room and the President of Nyack’s NAACP.
The Dynamics of Social Activism
Over the past year and a half, topics surrounding equality and restorative justice have been viewed as paramount in various community circles. And while these spheres of justice and activism may seem difficult to navigate, it is imperative for newcomers to comprehend the dynamics of social activism in order to fight for their own convictions. Dr. Frances Pratt, a seasoned advocate for civil rights, offered her critique of civic discourse.
“In any group that you are part of, there are dynamics you must understand,” said Dr. Pratt. “If your dynamics take you on a path where you are negative towards others, try to find solutions so you can be on the same page as them.”
The social conversation often becomes political in various contexts, and it may appear adverse to the broader populations. Dr Pratt advises that leading demonstrators must look for answers in all situations, “Instead of inflaming the situation, peacemakers must look for solutions.”
“Everybody has the right to say something in the talk about justice and race. You are enhancing your intellect by listening to what others say.”
Dr. Pratt always had it in her to look for solutions and help those around her.
She enrolled in the second class of the nursing program at Rockland Community College to “serve human kind.”
At the same time she was studying full-time to launch her career, she took six mentally challenged women from Rockland Psychiatric Center into her Nyack home.
Pratt allowed them to stay in her upstairs bedrooms where she attended to their every need, from preparing their meals to driving them to their appointments.
“I did not see them as mentally ill,” acknowledged Pratt. “In fact, I saw it in the reverse. I was questioning who was actually mentally ill.”
Often it is this kind of paradigm shift that allows others to discover their life’s purpose of service.
“We must utilize God’s gifts to edify other people. Too many people are burying their talents, when we could be using them to uplift others.”
Touching upon race, Dr. Pratt shares the old truth to show respect for others, regardless of color. She reminds us, “God did not make a mistake when he made a variety of colored people. Who are we to question that?”
“We must start to actively listen to others in order to learn, because we can attain a wealth of knowledge from whom we often shut our ears to.”