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Selma

Let's Get Free

Let's Get Free

Reflections by Chris Crass from recent work with Unitarian Universalists in Minnesota and the Selma 50th Living Legacy Conference in Alabama.

With nearly 200 UUs joining the March 17th webinar on Black Lives Matter led by two justice movement leaders and young adult Black UUs, Jova Lynne Vargas and Kenny Wiley, I want to share some of the powerful ways UUs are putting our faith into courageous action for Black Lives Matter.  I had the recent opportunity to lead workshops with the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance and at the Marching in the Arc of Justice Selma 50th conference, where I spoke with UUs about the work we’re doing for racial justice.

After Selma@50: Keep Marching!

After Selma@50: Keep Marching!

My heart and spirit were in Selma this weekend, where more than 500 UUs, including many of our faith’s leaders, joined together with the families of Jimmie Lee Jackson, Rev. James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo. While I couldn’t be there in person, the vivid images and stories coming out of Selma from our fellow UUs, Love People and justice partners made it feel as though I were. You can listen to the recordings from visionary leaders like the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a veteran of the civil rights movement with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Opal Tometi, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter and Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, leader of the North Carolina NAACP and Forward Together movement, along with many others, on the Living Legacy Project (LLP) website. While there, you can watch the the Reeb, Liuzzo, and Jackson families being given Courageous Love Awards, recognizing the sacrifices of their family members.

Be With Selma-In Whatever Way You Can

Be With Selma-In Whatever Way You Can

Fifty years ago, as Unitarian Universalist ministers in our thirties, we each answered Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to come to Selma to join the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery that had been viciously repressed by local and state law enforcement officers.  As many of you know, the Rev. James Reeb and both of us were attacked by white supremacists after we had marched across the bridge; Jim Reeb died from his injuries.  His family will be in Selma on March 7th to be with us and to honor him. They are deeply proud of his legacy.

Our lives were transformed forever and we have remained eager defenders of civil rights. As we gather in Selma for the 50th Anniversary events it is enormously gratifying to us to see that a new movement for racial justice is rising.  As we remember Selma, we know that Black Lives Matter and that we need to nurture, support and grow a new generation of freedom fighters. We hope that you will join us in this mission.

Honor Selma Sunday anywhere you live!

Honor Selma Sunday anywhere you live!

I don’t know about you, but I have been so moved by the legacy of Selma. Watching the power of this singular moment in American history unfold through the film Selma (even the trailer will give you chills), I was moved by the story of Jimmie Lee Jackson and proud to see UU’s Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo find their place in the struggle, even when they all paid the ultimate price. I’m halfway through Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison Reed’s new Skinner House book Selma Awakening. I was inspired by the bold message shared by five of my colleagues who are Women of Color, noting how the Sankofa message of “reach back and get it” applies to today. And I find myself wondering – if it were 50 years ago, would I have answered the call to justice?

My People of Faith: Will We Answer?

My People of Faith: Will We Answer?

When I was nine, a white UU adult told me after the service he loved that my black family worshipped at “his” church. “It shows how far your people have come.”

That confused me—I thought the folks at church were my people.

I am a proud, lifelong Unitarian Universalist. Some days I sing Spirit of Life to myself as I make breakfast. Coming of Age and YRUU (youth group) summer camps brought me ever-mingled comfort and stress. I am also black. The struggle for black freedom has long held a grip on my soul.

Growing up, I learned that Unitarians and Universalists traveled from near and far to Selma, Alabama in 1965, answering Dr. King’s call for clergy to join him in a march to end segregation. It was one of our young movement’s finest—and most tragic—hours. The Rev. James Reeb answered Dr. King’s call; just after arriving in Alabama, he and a small group were attacked. His companions survived; the young, white Unitarian minister succumbed to brutal injuries.