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Day 2: It’s our turn to make America what it must become

3 Comments | Share On Facebook| Day 2: It’s our turn to make America what it must become Share/Save/Bookmark Jan 19, 2014

Today is Day 2 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to remember the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while you journal about your own community activism and engagement. Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

                                                                                                                    

“In some ways, these tactics are not Jim Crow. They do not feature Night Riders and sheets…This is in fact, James Crow, Esq. Jim Crow used blunt tools. James Crow, Esq. uses surgical tools, consultants, high paid consultants and lawyers to cut out the heart of black political power.”

- The Rev. William Barber, NAACP North Carolina president, speaking about the assault on voting rights

 

This week, as we honor the legacy and service of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and celebrate the movement that brought the old Jim Crow to its knees, we also recommit to dreaming new dreams and doing the hard work of building a movement to end the new Jim Crow. The “March on Washington” was originally named the “March for Jobs and Freedom.” And yet today the black unemployment rate is still twice that of whites. Black folks are now free to sit at any lunch counter, but they are far more likely to go to jail, be branded a criminal, and then be relegated to a permanent second-class status in which discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits is legal once again.

 

The memories of Oscar Grant, Travyon Martin, and the millions their memories represent are not forgotten. Nor is the fact that nearly 50 years after the signing of the Voting Rights Act, a disheartening new assault on minority voting rights is taking place in this country—yet another reason we must be vigilant and steadfast in our quest for justice.

 

During these 30 Days of Love, as we embark on a spiritual journey for social justice, we can also commit to listening closely when we are called to stand in solidarity. A few weeks ago, nine Unitarian Universalist ministers joined the NAACP in issuing a call to action to participate in a Mass Moral March in Raleigh, N.C. on Saturday, February 8th. North Carolina is serving as an epicenter of sweeping new voting restrictions, as well as a host of other regressive policies. It is being viewed as a “test state to unleash these regressive chains of injustice across the country,” said our friends in North Carolina, each of whom have engaged in civil disobedience because “we knew that to suppress the vote is to suppress the spirit of a person.”

 

Friends, will you please heed this call to action and join the Mass Moral March on February 8th

Click here for more information.   

 

Just one month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina passed the country’s worst voter suppression laws that will have a disproportionate impact on black voters in the state. The legislature made cuts to early voting and same-day voter registration, targeted the votes of students and young people, and repealed public financing of judicial elections designed to keep special interest money out of our courtrooms. That’s not all. The Governor signed into law a bill that repealed the state’s Racial Justice Act of 2009, which allowed inmates facing the death penalty to challenge their sentences on the basis of racial discrimination. Lawmakers and the Governor have also made drastic cuts to social programs and education.

 

Please come to Raleigh Feb. 8, 2014. Join UUA Pres. Rev. Peter Morales; Reverend William Barber II, President of the NAACP NC; and Unitarian Universalists in North Carolina for a Mass Moral March on Raleigh for voting rights and economic, racial, and social justice.

 

In my view, the most important lesson we can learn from Dr. King is not what he said at the March on Washington, but what he said and did after the march. In the years following the march, he did not play politics to see what crumbs a fundamentally corrupt system might toss to the beggars for justice. Instead, he connected the dots and committed himself to building a movement that would shake the foundations of our economic and social order, so that the dream he preached in 1963 might one day be a reality everywhere in the country. Dr. King said that nothing less than “a radical restructuring of society” could possibly ensure justice and dignity for all. And he was right.

 

On this Martin Luther King Day, we can ask ourselves, has progress been made on some fronts? Yes, of course. But have jobs and freedom truly been won? No, we have more than a long way to go. We need to dream new dreams. And then get to work following the examples of those all around us who are putting their freedom on the line for justice, feeding the hungry, and organizing all those who know what it means to be locked up, locked out, and left behind. It’s our turn to dream. It’s our turn to make America what it must become.

 

With hope and gratitude,

Michelle Alexander
Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State University, civil rights advocate, and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

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Day 1: The Thirty Days of Love starts today

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Today is Day 1 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to begin with the Thirty Days of Love by journaling. Write in your journal your response to: Why are we trying to be multicultural? Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

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Today marks the start of our third annual Thirty Days of Love campaign. The first weekly theme is Living the Dream, where we will explore the intersections of civil rights, voter suppression, the New Jim Crow, and what we must do to build multicultural communities and congregations.

Let us begin with a question: Why are we trying to be multicultural?

This was a question emailed to me by a board member of a UU Congregation who was highly desirous of moving into the multicultural future. It is a question that every congregation that thinks it wants to become a multicultural community wrestles with and can only answer for themselves. It’s a question that Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre asked during last year’s Mosaic Maker’s conference.

It is also a question that I and the Multicultural Growth & Witness staff group I lead wrestle with constantly along with “how” do we become an anti-oppressive/multicultural faith community? We try to answer it with curriculum like Building the World We Dream About. With conferences like Mosaic Makers: Leading Vital Multicultural Congregations. With workshops, consultations, coaching, leadership development, and learning communities. With integrating the multicultural work we do with our social justice work, through initiatives like Thirty Days of  Love.

Here’s what I think. Our UU community cannot claim to promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and remain moncultures. Navigating differences of class, race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ability, and religion test and challenge us to live every one of the seven principles. The only way to know if we are truly inclusive, welcoming, justice-centered, and compassionate is by how well we engage with people who are different – not just in our sanctuaries but in the larger community.

Leaders of long-time multicultural churches say that this is not a journey for the faint of heart. It involves risk and sacrifice. And it takes time.

Multiculturalism is more than programs. It is an ethos – values – the test of “are we who we say we are?” – in every aspect of our community. From welcome to worship, membership to leadership, fellowship hour to life-long faith development, socializing to social justice, multiculturalism is what we do in and beyond the walls of the congregations.

There is a great urgency to answer the call to transform our churches and move us into the multicultural future:

  1. Income inequality in the United States and the inequitable distribution of the necessities of life make the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all a sham.
  2. Voter suppression severely compromises the right of conscience and use of the democratic process in our states and our nation.
  3. Poor education, segregated schools and efforts to push multicultural education out of public classrooms diminish the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
  4. Barriers of race and class compromise our capacity for justice, equity and compassion in human relations – because difference challenges us in ways we cannot predict.
  5. Fundamentalism makes acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth impossible.
  6. Food deserts, the dumping of waste in poor communities, and the lack of access to quality health care is disrespect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are all a part.
  7. Mass incarceration, mass deportation, and “stand your ground laws” mock our value of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. They criminalize poverty, race, and often times our country’s youth and young adults.

Multicultural community makes it harder to marginalize, exclude and oppress people who don’t share our identities. Multicultural relationships also call us to be more active in seeking justice for all people

 

Laila Ibrahim tells us in the Bless the Imperfect:

“Again and again, we are called to choose to commit ourselves to building a more just, more diverse, and yet ever messy and imperfect beloved community.”

 

May we be the people so bold by answering the calls of the marginalized, the excluded, and the oppressed that all people may be welcomed as blessings and the human family lives whole and reconciled.

 

Now it’s your turn to build the world you dream about. Journey with us, together during the Thirty Days of LoveLet this be a starting point or an opportunity to re-commit to our shared racial justice work.

 

Amen, Ache, Blessed Be, Shalom, May it Be So,

 

 

 

 

 

Taqueina Boston

Director, Multicultural Growth and Witness

Unitarian Universalist Association

 

P.S. – If you would like to read more of Taquiena’s sermon from the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, check it out here.

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Why the march is personal for us

3 Comments | Share On Facebook| Why the march is personal for us Share/Save/Bookmark Jan 17, 2014

Did you see the email from Rev. Morales on Monday encouraging you to come to Raleigh? If not, click here.

I want to echo Peter’s call and tell you why dozens of us from All Souls Church in Washington, DC are joining him in Raleigh.

 

Simply put: For us this march is personal.

 

In 1965 the Rev. James Reeb, a former minister of our church, was killed on the streets of Selma marching for voting rights. His death moved President Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act into Congress 49 years ago.

But last June the Supreme Court eviscerated that law, and since then states like North Carolina have passed legislation intended to suppress the vote of students, the working poor, people of color and the formerly incarcerated.

In the name of James Reeb and all those who struggled and died for the right to vote, we have a personal and moral obligation to protect their hard-won freedoms.

 

If you can join us in Raleigh on February 8, click here to register and learn more.

 

Can’t come to Raleigh, but still want to make a difference? Here are ways you can be involved from where you live:

  • Light candles/say a solidarity prayer or message at February 9th worship service
  • Watch a 10 min. video of Rev. William Barber, President of the NAACP NC, on the Forward Together Moral Movement
  • See Bill Moyer’s January 3rd program on the Moral Mondays movement (45 minutes)
  • Donate and/or take up a collection at your congregation for the NAACP NC to continue their important work. Your gift to the UUA will go to support the NC NAACP
  • Sign and circulate the NAACP’s petition to restore the Voting Rights Act
  • Find out if a people’s assembly has been organized or is organizing in your state. If so, join it. If not, offer to help your local NAACP chapter in organizing one.

 

The Thirty Days of Love starts tomorrow, and as part of the campaign, messengers from across the country will share why, even as we are celebrating the 50th anniversaries of so many important civil rights victories, there is still more work to be done. To learn more about the first week of Thirty Days of Love, with resources on “Living the Dream,” click here.

 

In one of his final sermons at All Souls before his death, the Rev. James Reeb said:

We [must] take upon ourselves a continuing and disciplined effort with no real hope that in our lifetime we are going to be able to take a vacation from the struggle for justice.

The struggle that Rev. Reeb and so many others began in their lifetimes can be realized in our own if we, like they, act together for justice.

 

Please join us in this struggle.

Peace,

The Rev. Robert M. Hardies ___________________________________________________________________________________

The Rev. Robert M. Hardies is senior minister of All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC, a diverse, historic congregation of over 1000 souls located in our nation’s capital.

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So, what’s this Thirty Days of Love that I keep hearing about?

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| So, what’s this Thirty Days of Love that I keep hearing about? Share/Save/Bookmark Jan 15, 2014

The Thirty Days of Love campaign begins in just 3 days, on January 18. We’ve got everything you need to learn more and get started here: http://standingonthesideoflove.org/2014-30daysoflove/

But wait! Are you still feeling a bit fuzzy about what exactly the Thirty Days of Love campaign is? Have no fear, we’ve got you covered!

Check out the handy guide below. Still have unanswered questions? Email us: love at uua.org!

 

The Thirty Days of Love 101 Guide:

Before you tell me what the Thirty Days of Love campaign is, give me the background on Standing on the Side of Love.

For a brief history and helpful video of what we are all about, click here! The quick history: Standing on the Side of Love has been around for almost 5 years (we’ll be celebrating our 5th anniversary at the UUA General Assembly this year!) and we harness the power of love to stop oppression.

Ok, got it. Tell me more about how the Thirty Days of Love campaign got started.

Back in 2012, we realized there were exactly 30 days in between MLK Day and Valentine’s Day. We’d already been re-imagining Valentine’s Day as a social justice holiday for a few years, so we thought we’d get creative and make something meaningful happen in between these two powerful holidays. And, voila! Thirty Days of Love was born.

Now, in subsequent years, it hasn’t been an exact 30 days between these two holidays, but they still provide important anchor starting and closing days to our initiative.

So, what are the goals for Thirty Days of Love? Why is it important and why should we participate?

As part of Thirty Days of Love we bring you tools to engage in listening campaigns, community connection, theological reflection, collective sharing, community education, and direct action.  We offer tangible resources for you celebrate the words and deeds of unsung heroes and to continue the effort to promote equality, acceptance, diversity, and inclusion.

Don’t take our word for why the Thirty Days of Love is important though; check out past years round-ups from 2012 and 2013 to hear from others who participated!

Ok, I get it now! I’m ready to participate. So what do I do?

The easiest way to be involved with the Thirty Days of Love is to sign up for the daily emails (yep, it’s really that easy!). Each day, we will send out an email with a daily theme of love + justice, and offer you resources for reflection, education and action. There will also be a daily action we invite you to take part in (to give you an idea of what daily actions look like: sometimes it will be changing your facebook pic, other days it will be journaling, and sometimes we will encourage you to get in touch with Congress).

What else can I expect? Are there ways I can take my involvement in Thirty Days of Love to the next level?

We are glad you asked! You can expect to hear from powerful voices like our partners at Middle Church, Sr. Simone, the head of our partners at NETWORK (the Catholic Sisters who created Nuns on the Bus) and visionary leaders from within Unitarian Universalism. You can take your involvement to the next level by letting other people know you are participating, signing up to participate in Share the Love Sunday, or giving a Courageous Love Award. And if you REALLY want to take it to the next level, plan a witness event that has the potential for serious local impact on behalf of marginalized communities.  Need help with funds to make it happen? Apply for a Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grant today: http://www.uua.org/giving/funding/102184.shtml

Anything else I should know?

Yep! You have the chance to win a free Standing on the Side of Love banner! Wanna know how? Just sign up to participate in Share the Love Sunday. To learn more click here, and to sign up, email development@uua.org The first fifty congregations to sign up win a free banner! 

And of course, we are here to help with any questions along the way.

With lots of giddy excitement for all that is to come,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer

Campaign Manager + Head Thirty Days of Love Enthusiast

Standing on the Side of Love

 

PS: Need some more Love inspiration to get you started? Check out my friend Dan’s Love Inspired Playlist and listen to some great songs as you plan your 30 Days involvement!

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Join Me in Raleigh

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Join Me in Raleigh Share/Save/Bookmark Jan 13, 2014

If you have been following the headlines like me on voter suppression initiatives in North Carolina and other states, you are worried—worried about what this might mean for all those people facing disenfranchisement, future elections, and what democracy in this country looks like. I am worried too. And I need to do something about it.

 

I received an urgent call from the Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and UU ministers in North Carolina (read their message here) asking me and my fellow UUs to join the Mass Moral March in Raleigh, NC on Sat., Feb. 8 and raise some national consciousness on this issue. Without a second thought, my answer was yes. Will you join me?

 

According to the ACLU, close to half of the states in the U.S. now have some form of voting restrictions. These restrictions are making it harder for people to vote, particularly people of color, students, and people with disabilities. These tactics range from voter ID laws to the elimination of early voting and same day voter registration to new restrictions on voter registration drives and barriers to voting for people with criminal convictions. We need voting to be free, fair, and accessible! Now is the time to mobilize to defend the freedom to vote.

 

This isn’t just about North Carolina. Just as Arizona became the flashpoint for immigration reform in 2010, immigration reform is a national issue. North Carolina represents how states across the country are trying to take away people’s right to vote. Today, it’s North Carolina, but tomorrow it could be, and perhaps already is, your state.

 

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s 5th Principle calls on the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. If people’s right to vote is taken away or denied, the democratic process is a sham. Defending the freedom to vote is fundamental to our values.

 

In 1965, hundreds of UUs went to Selma in response to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s call including the Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo. They died to secure voting rights for all people. Now is our time to make it clear that any restrictions of voting rights will not be tolerated by the American people.  Will you answer the call?

 

UU ministers in North Carolina need you.

People facing disenfranchisement need you.

Our democracy needs you.

 

Join me in Raleigh, NC on Saturday, Feb. 8 to help defend the freedom to vote.

 

In faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Morales

President of the UUA

 

P.S. - If you can’t join me in Raleigh, check out the Standing on the Side of Love website for ways you can get involved.

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