Have you followed the Thirty Days of Love this week? We launched our work in conjunction with Multicultural Growth and Witness on Living the Dream, Voting Rights, and the intersection with the New Jim Crow.
In case you missed any of our posts, you can read through them here!
- Taquiena Boston started the Thirty Days with a question: Why do we want to be Multicultural?
- Then, Professor Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, reminded us that it’s our turn to make America what it must become.
- On Day 3: UU Clergy from the Metro NY District joined in a virtual conversation with the SSL campaign to discuss what MLK Day means to them, and where we are now as country in regards to racial justice.
- Dayna Edwards, a DRE, shared her story of having a multiracial family in her piece: I Walk in Two Worlds.
- Rev. Carol Thomas Cissel, from All Souls Tulsa, shard the story of what her congregation does to embrace multiculturalism, and how they connect to the Mosaic Makers.
- Leaders from the Living Legacy Project shared more about how they came to create this program on Day 6.
- Rev. Deb Cayer, from North Carolina, echoed the calls we have been hearing for weeks to join UUs from across the country in Raleigh as part of the Forward Together/Moral Mondays Movement.
- And finally, we heard from Sister Simone Campbell, from NETWORK/Nuns on the Bus, who shared with us the history of Catholic sisters involvement in civil rights and immigration justice.
Campaign Manager & Head Thirty Days of Love Enthusiast
Standing on the Side of LoveMore >
Today is Day 8 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s daily action is to think about the intersections of civil and voting rights for the 11 Million Undocumented Immigrants in this country who are waiting for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. To take action and join Sr. Simone, click here. For more information and family resources, click here. To sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails, click here.
Forty-nine years ago in Selma, Alabama, Catholic Sisters marched for civil rights, voting rights and an end to segregation. They stood up with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others to proclaim that segregation was wrong and democracy needed everyone’s participation. Almost fifty years later they are honored as the “Sisters of Selma.” One of their members said in a recent documentary, “It is one thing to have a right on a piece of paper, but unless you can act on it…it is nothing.”
On “Nuns on the Bus” tours across the United States, we Sisters of another era discovered the same truth. In every age we need to stand up for our rights to speak and act for justice. In Florida, I met Hispanic teens and young adults who were working to improve their communities as local organizers. In Camden, New Jersey, I met seventh graders working together to improve their park and their city. In Laredo, Texas, I met border patrol officers, Sisters of Mercy, and local court officials working together to improve their community and lessen the harshness of our broken immigration system. Everywhere we went, people of faith were working together to improve our communities and make democracy work.
But I also discovered on the Bus that there is a fear-based psychology of “scarcity” that causes fearful people to think that there are not enough rights to go around. Fear causes people to protect their own rights and think that they can’t give these same opportunities to others. Fear demands a self-protective response that makes me think that if I allow others to have their rights, I will lose my own. This is wrong!
The antidote to fear is community. In community, we know we are not alone and that someone has my back. This shared responsibility calls us to exercise our civil obligations. In fact, community can only exist if everyone contributes to the shaping of our society. This realization has led me to believe that an important task of the twenty-first century is to protect our rights by focusing on civil obligations. We as a community have an obligation to make sure that everyone is included. We must protect the right to vote, the right to education, the right to food, shelter and healthcare.
Catholic Sisters in Selma knew we had to stand together to ensure that justice was done. Achieving justice, they knew, was a mix of struggle and hope. In our time, it is the same. We must stand together to make sure all of those eligible can vote. But that is not enough. We must ensure that all of us together do the hard work of democracy. We are called to build relationships, talk across differences, and find new ways forward.
In short, we are called to struggle together to form a more perfect union. No one can be left out of our care. In community, we know that we are our sisters’ keepers; we are our brothers’ keepers. Like the Sisters of Selma, we know that our rights are not just on paper. Our rights live in our vibrant democracy as we struggle toward justice.
Sister Simone, S.S.S.
Executive Director, NETWORK (Nuns on the Bus)More >
Today is Day 7 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to learn more about why we have issued a call to join together in Raleigh on February 8. To learn more, sign up to attend, and find out what else you can do if you can’t attend, click here. To sign up for the Thirty Days of Love daily emails, click here.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today in North Carolina, fifty years after the 1963 March on Washington, there’s been a calculated, well funded, broad based assault on the civil rights of poor people and people of color. In terms of civil rights history, and our state’s own history, after 150 years of progress, we’re suddenly going backward. Since 1865, North Carolina has had a different way of doing things than our Southern neighbors, and it’s resulted in a great state education system and dynamic business climate.
But last spring we saw one regressive bill after another quickly roll out of the state legislature. The newly elected ultra-conservative majority refused to expand the federal Medicaid program, passed a repressive reproductive rights bill, cut eligibility for unemployment insurance, and cut benefits for education, and for disabled and mentally ill people. They’ve made it harder for poor people and people of color to vote, and enacted a regressive tax system while giving a large tax break to the state’s wealthiest citizens. And in a truly stunning move, they repealed the Racial Justice Act. Who repeals racial justice?! Apparently, the very same folks who two years ago successfully funded the effort to change our state constitution to make same sex marriage illegal.
So when the call came to take a moral stand with the NAACP, of course I went to Raleigh with many members of the congregation I serve. We were angry, but even more, we were committed to something much greater than anger, much greater than injustice. We went to Moral Mondays last spring and summer with love for our fellow citizens, especially those who couldn’t be there to speak for themselves, and a passionate commitment to the common good. We brought along our UU religious values: every person has inherent worth and dignity, so every person deserves equal rights. And at the same time, we’re all in this together—what affects one of us affects us all.
We discovered that others were already working to get progress back on track. The all-volunteer leadership of the NC NAACP has spent the last seven years crafting a broad based, progressive, and inclusive coalition. These leaders know the history of North Carolina—how past multiracial coalitions have been beaten down by the KKK and Jim Crow. They also know that the spirit of love and justice never died here.
So when this latest reprisal began, they launched the Forward Together movement. It’s firmly rooted in the Judeo Christian prophetic tradition, and inclusive of other religious traditions, and atheists as well. They’ve also reached out to labor, human rights, health and human service groups, and LGBTQ folk. Like all vital movements, it’s sometimes messy, imperfect, and constantly in flux. And it’s the real deal; sometimes their message of outrage at injustice hits so close to the bone, to the soul, it takes your breath away and leaves you humbled with no option but to fall in, with gratitude.
If this touches your mind and heart, come and join us in Raleigh on February 8 and be part of this movement, not just a moment. That morning we’ll march with leaders from the NC NAACP, the UUA, and other groups who understand that when there’s an all out assault on the common good, all of us have to show up and speak out with a love that’s determined to find a better way.
If you can’t come to Raleigh, follow the Moral March on line, on Facebook and at Forward Together on YouTube. Please help us spread the message of love and justice that’s blossoming again here in North Carolina.
Is this easy? Not always. Is it rich with meaning, hope and love? That’s always the possibility when we go Forward Together—Not One Step Back!
Rev. Deborah Cayer
Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Durham, NCMore >
Today is Day 6 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today, reflect upon the 50th anniversary of the 24th Amendment and the implications for democracy in this country. Think about the many ways in which voting rights are being denied today. How can you be part of making sure everyone has the right to vote? Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.
We’ve all heard people say, “It was a transformational experience.” Maybe you’ve said it yourself. The question that we like to ask ourselves when we feel that way is “What I have been transformed to do?” In 2008, our lives were changed – we were transformed – when we decided to go on a Civil Rights Tour led by the Rev. Dr. Gordon Gibson and his wife Judy. This tour was a partnership with Meadville-Lombard Theological School in Chicago, so we stepped on the bus in Chicago and drove south to Memphis and then on through Mississippi and Alabama. This was not like any other trip we’d been on. It was not a tour in any sense of the word. Sure, we visited museums and historical sites – and were moved by what we saw there. But that’s not where the transformation happened. It happened as we met person after person who had put their lives on the line to secure the right to vote for all.
We were transformed by Hollis Watkins, a county organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi who during one of his many arrests was shown a noose and told he would be hung that night. We were transformed by Joanne Bland, who joined the Movement at eleven years old and was chased by police on horses off the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what’s come to be known as Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. We were transformed by Angela Lewis, the daughter of slain civil rights worker, James Chaney, who holds love, not bitterness, in her heart for his killers.
Before we even returned to Chicago, we approached Gordon and Judy, who themselves chose a ministry in Mississippi in the 1960s to live out their commitment to justice and equity. “How could we help,” we asked them, “to keep this experience alive?” Out of that question, that moment when being transformed meant we had to act, the Living Legacy Project was born. Since that time, hundreds of people, UUs and people of all faiths, have participated in the Living Legacy Pilgrimage and other experiential learning opportunities (including an upcoming partnership with the UU College of Social Justice for a multigenerational journey to Mississippi this summer), which are designed to deepen understanding of the Civil Rights Movement by visiting the sites where it happened and talking with the people who lived it.
Today, we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the 24th Amendment, which prohibits both Congress and the states from requiring people to pay a poll tax or any other type of tax to vote in federal elections. At the same time, we also recognize that we are facing the most severe threats to voting rights we have seen since the 24th Amendment was ratified.
What will you do to assure that the people who worked tirelessly, who gave up their freedom, and in some cases, their lives to secure the right to vote, did not do so in vain? What actions will you take in your state to resist the voter suppression laws that are making it harder and harder for people to vote? What has your faith transformed you to do?
(from left to right)
The Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson is minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau in Garden City, NY
Dr. Janice Marie Johnson is the Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director for the UUA
Annette Marquis is the LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director for the UUA
Today is Day 5 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to take your next step toward building multicultural community. Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.
This week, thousands of us participating in the 30 Days of Love campaign will be especially mindful of the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
His is a heritage of faith and hope, laughter and tears—that can only be moved from dream to reality by our actions. Each day that we lean into Dr. King’s vision of a multicultural America, we move one step closer to making his Dream come true. I see glimpses of the Dream in action nearly every day: a new grocery store opens in a needy neighborhood, a tall dark-skinned young man is the lifeguard (not the custodian) at the YWCA where I swim laps, I smile as white couple plays “pass the baby” with their beautiful Ethiopian daughter during a church potluck supper.
Yes, I see glimpses of the Dream, but that is not enough. I want to live the Dream every day.
Wanting to live that Dream is a fundamental piece of my call into Unitarian Universalist ministry; and as the Resident Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I am blessed to be part of an intentional multicultural congregation that is deeply involved in taking steps to make the Dream come true.
Our intentionality manifests itself both inside and outside of our community. Internally, it shows up in the music played and the songs we sing together, in the readings chosen for Sunday worship services and the poetry given voice at our weekly Wednesday night chapel. Externally, I see it at events like the conference All Souls hosted last November. The UUA’s Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations Conference was attended by more than 120 people from twenty UU congregations engaged in intentional multicultural ministry. As I shared in my feedback to the conference organizers, the conference was a place of passionate people, engaged deeply in the work of learning how to embrace and create true multicultural welcome.
There is joy and beauty, pain and anxiety, when we take part in this kind of transformative ministry. When we lean into the action required to make Dr. King’s Dream a reality, we come up against the blessings and challenges of working in and for a diverse community. Yet we remain committed to something far greater than ourselves. All Souls’ Centennial Vision opens with this line: “Our church is an embodiment and celebration of the world as we hope it will one day become.”
That is a big vision, let me tell you. But the good news I want to share is that intentional multicultural community starts small and can be evoked by anyone, whether or not you belong to a congregation. One small step All Souls took was to start hosting potluck dinners where attendees bring food from their families or backgrounds and then talk about the significance of the dish they brought. This combination of sharing food and talking story deepens relationships and builds community.
Today, let’s commit ourselves to taking whatever small or large step we must, to make the Dream into reality. In a 1957 sermon, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
My questions are these:
- What did you do for others today?
- What will you do for others tomorrow or the next day?
- How are you leaning into the Dream?
During these 30 Days of Love, how will you help create the world as you want it to become?
Love & Blessings,
Carol Thomas Cissel
Resident Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma