“I think he’s really trying to help people who wouldn’t even know about us, and whose legal issues aren’t urgent enough for us to take them,” Swanton said. “I feel he really has a heart for helping those people.”
In the meantime, he has worked part time as a youth minister at Seventh and James Baptist Church.
Last year, McKeever attended a lecture by Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness.” She drove home the point that minority communities are disproportionately affected by the lifelong stigma of incarceration, limiting opportunities for housing, employment and political representation.
That was the inspiration for his Lenten decision.
“As Lent approached, I couldn’t get it off my head and heart,” McKeever said.
He talked over his idea with his spiritual advisers, his bosses at Mission Waco and his wife, Emily.
“I told him just to go for it,” said Emily McKeever, Parents Day Out director at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. “I knew it would be a bit outside the box and would definitely get people’s attention. ... I definitely support what he’s doing.”
At a local jail supply store, an employee tried to discourage him from dressing like a prisoner, warning him that it might get him in trouble if he gets pulled over.
The McKeevers went to San Antonio in the past week for a getaway, and Kent McKeever’s attire drew suspicious glances, whispers and a few outright questions at the Riverwalk and the Alamo.
McKeever said he plans to keep wearing the uniform until Lent ends on Easter, with breaks on Sunday, which in the Lenten tradition are supposed to be days of celebration.
Jerrod Clark, a social worker who works alongside McKeever at Mission Waco’s Meyer Center on Washington Avenue, said he admires the attorney’s courage.