‘Orange Is The New Black’ Character Inspired By Real-Life Peace Activist

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Sister Ingalls, the TV nun on Orange is the New Black, was inspired by real-life peace activist, Sister Ardeth Platte, who served on the Saginaw City Council and spent time behind bars.


In the late ’80s, Platte was a frequent visitor outside the former Paul B. Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, where the nun led protests against nuclear weapons. After her arrest and conviction in Colorado, Platte served time alongside Kerman. As Kerman wrote, “only the nun got more mail than me.”


“I never tied myself to a flagpole. I go into nuclear weapons sites to pray, to vigil, to expose what is there, to try to speak my peace about total abolition of nuclear weapons.”

Sister Ardeth Platte

Orange Is the New Black is based on the book of the same name about Piper Kerman’s experiences in a Connecticut women’s prison. The autobiography details how Kerman, through a brief relationship with an international drug runner, became a mule, a past that caught up to her years after she’d found a more productive use for her talents.

“On my first day in the Camp someone had helpfully informed me that there was a nun there — in my side-smacked daze, I vaguely assumed they meant a nun who had chosen to live among prisoners. I was correct, sort of.

Sister Ardeth Platte was a political prisoner, one of several nuns who are peace activists and served long federal sentences for trespassing in a nonviolent protest at a Minuteman II missile silo in Colorado.”

Piper Kerman

The sister has read Kerman’s book, in which she appears a handful of times. However she has chosen not to watch the TV show, believing it takes too many liberties compared to her real-story.

“There’s too much license with it. It probably has too much license in it for me, though I know a lot of people say, ‘It really has taught me a lot.'”

Sister Ardeth Platte

Platte, now 78, has a day job, and that’s her mission to promote nuclear disarmament.

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