I guess you could say that Nicole Unice has taken “two small steps.” After participating in one of the first One Small Step conversations in Richmond soon after the program’s launch, she found herself mic’d up for another session when CBS’s “60 Minutes” came calling for a segment on OSS.
On that occasion, she was paired with a fellow pastor named Brenda, and while their politics were different, the two women discovered they had much in common—Army brats, with a strong foundation in spirituality and patriotism.
A Presbyterian pastor, Nicole grew up in a quintessential conservative household where the family embraced the ideals of fiscal conservatism, small government, and Christian values. As a longtime fan of StoryCorps, Nicole had used illustrations from the program in her sermons and teachings, focusing often on the spiritual formations around faith and wellness.
In Brenda, she not only found a connection she calls “mystical,” but saw her as a font of wisdom.
“I was honored to sit with someone who is my elder, and I thought ‘I want to learn from you,’” she remembers.
As a minister herself in Charlottesville, Brenda did pastoring to locals following the Unite the Right rally there in 2017, and it was their mutual foundations in faith where they found commonality.
With the “60 Minutes’” cameras rolling, Nicole said, “Oh, Brenda, I love what you just said about helping people find their path, because I feel such a connection there.”
Nicole says she has long been familiar with contact theory, the underlying premise for One Small Step—that essentially, it’s more difficult to hate people you get to know. Having grown up with a brother who was adopted from Korea, she became interested in racial conciliation and seeks ways to find common understanding among disparate people.
“It’s the connection among hearts that I think is what’s been lost in our culture,” Nicole says. “If we can make those connections, it’s what elevates humanity.”