Blog Series: From North Carolina to Your Home State
On Feb. 8, 2014, between 1,000 – 1,500 UUs from across the country joined partners in Raleigh, NC, to witness in solidarity at the Mass Moral March, spearheaded by the North Carolina NAACP. Together, we learned about the many interconnected justice issues at stake in their state and how this has led to a Fusion Coalition focused on a 14 Point Agenda to bring North Carolina “Forward Together.” Throughout the coming year, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign will focus on voter suppression—an issue that impacts so many people and is thus at the core of the struggle in North Carolina. In this election year, UUs across the country will be learning more about what we can do ensure all people have voting rights, especially after the Supreme Court gutted key parts of the Voting Rights Act.
This blog post is the first in a series that will build upon our collective energy after our gathering in Raleigh, focusing especially on how we will bring this back to our home states. Several states in the South have similar initiatives, modeled after the movement in North Carolina, including South Carolina and Georgia. Below we hear from Rev. Marti Keller, an Affiliated Community Minister with the UU Women’s Federation, who shares her experiences with the Moral Mondays movement in her state of Georgia.
Leaping from Our Spheres
I first met Monica Simpson a year ago for lunch at a Panera café in Atlanta, over black bean soup and salads. I was excited to be with her as we planned for a Sunday morning sermon she would be delivering at my then congregation. Her sermon would be especially timely following the selection of Reproductive Justice as the UUA’s Congregational Study/Action issue over the next several years and the role her Atlanta-based organization, Sistersong, had played and will play in redefining and expanding our work in this arena. Monica is the executive director of this collective that was formed in 1997 to educate women of color and policymakers on reproductive and sexual health and rights, a catalyst for and partner in the UUA’s work in this arena.
Monica and I found each other again: in Washington, DC, during a national gathering of We Belong Together, a network of women’s groups working for fair and comprehensive immigration reform, shining the light on the plight of undocumented mothers separated from their children and other injustices under the existing system. We walked the long halls of the Senate and House office buildings together.
A few weeks ago we both showed up for the first Moral Monday in Georgia, modelled after weekly demonstrations in North Carolina last year (and the nationally publicized mass Moral March that happened in Raleigh on February 8). The initial Atlanta gathering—and the next one—focused on Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which if adopted in all states could provide coverage for an additional 4.5 million lower-income women. Georgia is one of the states whose governor has refused to participate.
Monica was not only present, she was front and center, one of the lead speakers at the rally, which attracted around 200 people who stood in a freezing hard rain. I caught up with her by phone to talk about the link between the Moral Monday movement and the reproductive justice work that the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation and the UUA share with Sistersong.
The connection is “a huge deal,” she said unhesitatingly. “The communities where this expansion is most important are communities of color.”
Federally subsidized healthcare not only impacts women’s ability to care for our own bodies, it also impacts a woman’s right to parent children in healthy and sustainable ways, Monica noted.
While access to healthcare has been highlighted in Georgia’s Moral Mondays, in North Carolina the current focus has been on voter ID laws, asking for repeal of measures passed there that have discouraged and disenfranchised people of color and young people, the primary constituents of and advocates for the services, rights, and conditions necessary for fully realizing reproductive justice.
The larger stage, the number of groups, and the energy of Moral Mondays will only strengthen and magnify this effort.
Rev. Marti Keller
Affiliated Community MinisterMore >
We stood on the side of love for immigrant families in 2012 at Justice GA in Phoenix. Earlier this month, we stood on the side of love in Raleigh and made the connections between voter suppression and the 11 million undocumented immigrants yearning for a path to citizenship. We know that justice issues are interconnected, and we are harnessing the power of love to stop oppression wherever we see it.
So, what’s next? We’re going from Phoenix to Raleigh to your hometown! The Unitarian Universalist Association is proud to be a sponsor of the Fast for Families Bus Tour. The Fast started at the end of 2013 on the National Mall across from the Capitol, where notable figures like President Obama and key lawmakers came by to learn more about why we so desparately need reform to keep kids and parents together. And starting this Monday, we are helping to launch a bus tour across the country that will be making appearances in important Congressional Districts to advocate for immigration reform now. There will be two buses going on a northern and southern route, perhaps stopping close to your home town! Click here to view the bus stop events.
Across the country, our partners have come to know and rely on the “Yellow Shirts” and the “Love People” to show up and witness for justice. Now, our partners in immigrant justice have asked for us to join them on the Fast For Families; can you help answer the call? If there isn’t a stop near you, there is plenty you can do in solidarity, like join the Fast for 24 hours, and let Congress know! Click here for sample tweets, Facebook messages and more. Have any questions before you get started? Just email us: email@example.com.
Let’s show our partners we will continue to stand on the side of love until we have passed compassionate immigration reform that keeps families together. And let’s show Congress we aren’t giving up until they too, take a chance and stand on the side of love.
Campaign Manager, Standing on the Side of Love
PS- Just a few days ago, we told you about a new partnership with the UUA and the United Church of Christ(UCC) called March Forth. Well, on this March 4th, I will be joining the Fast for 24 hours as my way of showing solidarity, and then I will be sending tweets and facebook messages to Congress. You can join me–learn more about March Forth here!More >
Unitarian Universalists are no strangers to marching for what they believe in. That is why when the Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ (UCC), asked the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) to join them for their initiative, March Forth, I whole-heartedly said, “Yes!”
March Forth is a one-day advocacy effort on March 4 .It’s an opportunity to give attention to a social justice issue that is important to you, to us. You choose how to advocate and what to advocate for. Will you choose environmental, racial, economic, or reproductive justice, marriage equality, or voting rights? Here you can see what others are doing.
The UUA and the UCC have long been positively aligned on a number of social issues. I am delighted at the growing collaboration between our two denominations. I was grateful that the Rev. Geoffrey Black and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo joined thousands of UUs at our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012 to stand up for immigration reform, and I was proud to walk with Geoffrey two weeks ago at the Moral March in Raleigh, NC. We can be stronger and more effective together.
I encourage you to take an extra step. Reach out to a local UCC congregation now and make plans together for this day of action. Let’s see what can we do in partnership to March Forth. Click here to learn more about how to participate in March Forth. And we want to hear from you too! Send your stories, your photos, your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will share them through the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.
Onward in faith,
The Rev. Peter Morales
UUA PresidentMore >
This blog post comes from remarks delivered by The Rev. Peter Morales on the eve of the Mass Moral March in Raleigh, NC. Click here to see The Rev. Peter Morales’ full remarks in celebration of The Rev. Clark Olsen.
Today, we reflect on the long history of the struggle for democracy in the south. This issue of voter suppression goes back to the 1960’s. Civil rights were under attack. Racist practices were keeping African Americans from voting. In 1965, Unitarian Universalist ministers James Reeb, Orloff Miller and Clark Olsen answered the call from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Selma.
What follows is a story of heartache and tragedy. Many know that as these three ministers walked on the sidewalks of Selma, white supremacists attacked them. The Rev. James Reeb died two days later as a result of his injuries. Orloff and Clark lived, and each one of us here today honors their sacrifice, their struggle, their pain, and their fervent hopes for a future of compassion and equality. Tonight, the Rev. Clark Olsen is with us and I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize his life of service.
Simply put, the Rev. Clark Olsen is an extraordinary man. His career spans the parish, service in our Unitarian Universalist Association and the business world. As the son of a Unitarian minister, he carried on in his father Arthur’s footsteps. Clark was ordained in 1959 and served as minister for over 20 years in three congregations. For two years he led at the national level as vice president of program and planning for the Unitarian Universalist Association. He served on numerous continental UUA committees and on the board of Starr King School for the Ministry, our UU seminary in Berkeley, California. For 28 additional years, Clark served as a consultant and trainer for nonprofit organizations and for Fortune 500 corporations, specializing in strategic planning, organizational culture change, management and supervisor development, and team building. During those 28 years, he continued to serve the denomination in numerous ways. And we are so thankful he did.
Clark, today we honor your many contributions to our faith. Your leadership, your passion and dedication, and especially your courage, are an inspiration to all.
Our Standing on the Side of Love campaign bestows a special award – the Courageous Love Award – to individuals and groups who live our values of peace and justice out loud in the world. The award is for those who demonstrate in extraordinary ways, the conviction that all are born with inherent worth and dignity. This award is for those who take a stand for the oppressed. This award is for you. May we emulate your strength and your heart.
With deepest appreciation,
The Rev. Peter Morales
Today is the final day of the Thirty Days of Love. For today’s daily action, we encourage you to participate in Share the Love Sunday. If you are part of a congregation that is holding a love-themed worship service today, wonderful – let us know how it goes! If not, perhaps you can encourage your congregation to hold a Share the Love service later in the year. Click here for more details! Click here for resources, family actions, and more!
We are a community of seekers joined together in a circle of love. Thirty Days of Love is a special time for our community. It reminds us of the power we have when we join together. Our actions and reflections change us – and change the world.
Over the past month, thousands of us have come together to share stories, take action, and build community. We have seen extraordinary examples of people reaching out in love and making a difference for others.
On the final day of this Thirty Days of Love, I look back on the actions and conversations that have occurred and I am truly inspired. It has been powerful to see so many people come together to stand on the side of love. Together, we have honored the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and explored what it means to live out his dream. We have learned about the importance of knowing and sharing our own. We have laid the foundations for building bridges of love, so that we may reach across barriers to practice radical love and inclusion. And this week we have taken the time to Pause, Reflect, and Celebrate together.
Today, congregations and individuals across the country are celebrating Share the Love Sunday together. These special services will lift up this month of action, service, education, and reflection. If your congregation wasn’t able to plan a Share the Love Sunday service for today, remember that Standing on the Side of Love makes an excellent worship theme any time of year. And if you are not participating with a congregation, I still encourage you to take a moment today to reflect on the past thirty days and to celebrate. Celebrate all that we have accomplished and shared. Celebrate because we have been a part of something important and meaningful. Share the Love Sunday is a chance for us to pause in the midst of our daily lives, to reflect on what it means for us to stand on the side of love, and to celebrate our work for justice and love during the past thirty days, as well as throughout the year.
As we conclude this year’s Thirty Days of Love campaign, let us commit to continuing the fight for justice and an end to oppression. Let’s take what we have learned and share it with others. Let’s stand on the side of love.
Rev. Terry Sweetser
Vice President for Stewardship and Development
Unitarian Universalist Association
P.S. One way that you can share your love is to make a financial contribution. Any support, no matter the amount, helps to provide the essential resources that make the Thirty Days of Love and other Standing on the Side of Love programs possible, and successful, for years and generations to come.More >