Why are we standing on the side of love with the Black Lives Matter movement? If you are reading this, you likely identify as a ‘Love Activist’, a Unitarian Universalist, a justice builder of Beloved Community, all of the above or some combination of those and more.
A few days after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO this past August, Rev. Peter Morales, the President of the UUA wrote:
“We must add our voices to those who seek an end to the violence and chaos. In the short-term, let us stand on the side of love with those seeking healing and some measure of justice. In the long-term, let us rededicate ourselves to the work of building a world where events like those in Ferguson are unthinkable.”
In the ten months since Michael Brown’s killing, we have seen a movement take hold across the country declaring that #BlackLivesMatter. As more and more senseless deaths have come to light, we have seen Love Activists and UUs across the country take part in and be in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We were fortunate to hear the prophetic words of Opal Tometi, a co-founder of the movement, when she spoke at the Marching in the Arc of Justice conference in Selma, organized by the Living Legacy Project and the UUA this past March. Opal challenged UUs to help build the Black Lives Matter movement and welcomed our visibly ‘bringing in love’ through our presence and our signals of support such as Standing on the Side of Love Black Lives Matter banners and more.
We are grateful to have stories and photos continue to pour in from across the country, where congregations have hung huge banners declaring for all to see that #BLACKLIVESMATTER! We are heartened to know of the many congregations and cities where weekly vigils are still being steadfastly held. From Oakland to Minneapolis, from Baltimore to Cleveland, UUs have been part of marches, street actions and advocacy calling for racial justice.
We are looking forward to this coming General Assembly, where we will focus on the intersection of racial, economic, and climate justice. As part of our commitment in solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement, the UUA Bookstore will have a number of items available as ongoing visual reminders calling us to support and commit to #BlackLivesMatter. Multicultural Growth & Witness will also provide buttons to signal your support.
General Assembly workshop tracks will speak in diverse ways to Black Lives Matter and how the movement affects our lives, our work, and our ministries. The GA Mosaic track is a four-part workshop series that stems from Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations, a national conference that considers four pillars of intentional multicultural community: Leadership, Worship, Justice Ministry, and Congregational Life, as critical aspects for building multicultural sensibility and community. There will also be a Faith, Race and Justice; Witness & Advocacy That Matter workshop track on community organizing, movement building, creating accountable partnerships and more. As part of our continued solidarity, we will be making a financial contribution to support the national Black Lives Matter movement to help further this work.
Not coming the the UUA GA? We will have video and resources available online after GA, and we are happy to announce our Racial Justice pages on standingonthesideoflove.org have been recently updated. Click here to access updated worship materials, get new resources, share stories, and look for more materials shortly after GA in early July as well.
Finally, we must hear from YOU to help continue to shape our racial justice work. The UUA is inviting UUs of all ages and backgrounds to share their hopes and dreams for the role that Unitarian Universalists can play in the coming years in advancing racial justice in the United States. Responses are anonymous, and a report of important take-aways will be shared later this summer. The responses will help frame a shared vision for what Unitarian Universalists can do to advance racial justice, and for what the UUA can do to support that vision.
If you have not yet filled out the survey, please do so, and encourage your friends and family to participate as well. Take the survey here.
We encourage all Love Activists and congregations engaging in this work to be in solidarity with local partners, and find ways to continue to stand on the side of love with the Black Lives Matter movement in your communities.
In faith and love,
Janice Marie Johnson, Susan Leslie, and Jennifer Toth Clary
Multicultural Growth and Witness
Unitarian Universalist Association