A Triumph of Robert's Rules

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGo5bxWy21g I've been reading To Kill a Mockingbird to Caroline for the past several weeks. We've been at it a long time, what with other things happening in the evenings. And Robert's been reading Ender's Game, so we alternate nights. It also doesn't speed things along when I preface each section with a rapturous "Oh I *love* this scene." The rabid dog... The night before the trial begins...

Anyway. That book, plus a conversation with a friend yesterday about our Presbyterian system of governance (he's teaching a polity class next semester) reminded me of the following anecdote.

I recently read The Mockingbird Next Door, in which author Marja Mills describes her friendship with Harper and Alice Lee. The book was just OK, but one scene stuck with me.

The Lees' pastor was describing the turbulent 1960s in which the southern churches were fighting hard over civil rights. At one particular regional meeting of the United Methodist Church, the church was preparing to adopt a committee's report concerning the scourge of racism and segregation. Of course, the racists and pro-segregationists were threatening to bog the process down with various amendments, speeches and delaying tactics. There they were, clutching their legal pads full of vitriol, and the atmosphere was tense. Then this happened:

Before their leader could get to the floor, a wee woman from Monroeville, Alabama, got the attention of the presiding officer of the conference. Miss Alice Finch Lee went to the microphone to make her maiden speech to the Alabama– West Florida conference of the Methodist Church. Her speech electrified the seven or eight hundred delegates there— I was there. It consisted of five words.

She said: ‘I move the previous question,’ and sat down.

The conference applauded enthusiastically and voted overwhelmingly to support her motion and then adopted the committee report without further debate.

Like a boss.

~

Video: Robert's Rules in action in a very NSFW clip from The Wire. "Robert's Rules say we gotta have minutes for the meetin', right?"