Post by UU Pacific Southwest District Executive Rev. Ken Brown
From the moment Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, civil rights and baseball have been linked. This July 12th the nation will be watching the All Star game for more reasons than a love of baseball. Though asked by numerous civil rights organizations and concerned baseball fans, Bud Selig refused to move the All-Star game from Arizona. Selig has remained silent on the issue of civil rights but we hope fans and players will follow in the civil rights tradition the Major League Baseball is so proud of and show their support of our cause by wearing white ribbons in support of federal immigration reform and against hate-based legislation.
Shortly after SB1070 was passed, some baseball players and management stepped up to the plate, like White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, San Diego Padre Adrian Gonzalez, and Florida Marlin Jorge Cantu, who spoke out against SB1070. But here in Arizona, more than a year later, the backlash from this draconian legislation is still being felt, and for this reason we want to use the platform of the All Star game, when the country will have their eyes on Arizona, to join with those ball players who bravely voiced their concerns last year and continue to speak out against the injustice of hate-based, racially polarizing bills. We ask that you lend your voice to the growing call for compassion and unity both within Arizona and within the United States as we work for a federal solution and not a piece-meal state approach.
What does SB1070 have to do with baseball?
Baseball is a game that transcends barriers and brings America together, reminding us of what makes our country and this game unique: our diversity. More than 25% of major league players are immigrants. Many players may themselves be considered “reasonably suspicious” under the current law. This is wrong. This is a violation of the freedoms we hold dear as Unitarian Universalists and citizens of the United States, and it must stop. Divisive, scape-goating legislation has no place in our communities and should never be tolerated.
SB1070, the “Papers, Please” law has united a variety of nonprofit, business, civil rights, student, and community groups to decry the tone in which policy-makers around the country are using migrant populations for their political gain. While the call to boycott Arizona continues, we are asking that you stand with us as we work to Unite Arizona and celebrate our state’s true All Stars, to celebrate all of us, the folks who work every day, contribute to our economy, and make Arizona their home. We hope as fans and players come to Arizona they will be able to see it for what is, a welcoming place. We are working to make sure Arizona continues to be a welcoming place for all, not just some of its residents, and with your help we can make it happen.More >
For Standing on the Side of Love Day this year, Sue Null from Brevard, NC partnered with a local organization, Human Relations Council, hoisted the Standing on the Side of Love banner, and honored a deserving local community member, Fay Walker for her work.
This article was originally printed in the Transylvania Times on June 23, 2011.
Fay Walker and her daughter, Susanne, moved to Brevard in 1982. Here she continued a life-long commitment to racial justice and reconciliation. Within a few years of arriving in Brevard, Fay was appointed to the Brevard/Transylvania County Human Relations Council, which recently honored her as Person of the Year.
In 1988, the Ku Klux Klan requested a permit to march in downtown Brevard. Determined not to “fuel their flame,” Walker invited interested residents of the community to meet at her church during the time of the KKK march and to engage dialogue on race relations in the community. Fourteen people showed up.
Out of this modest beginning was born an ongoing group of black and white residents known simply as “Friends.” This group met monthly for a decade to enjoy friendship and to work toward racial reconciliation. In 1992 when the Klan marched again in Brevard, it was this Friends group that initiated a petition opposing the Klan that filled a full page of The Transylvania Times with 1,200 signatures of local residents who shared their opinion.
One man of color told Walker, “I never dreamed there were this many people in our community who would go public in opposition to the Klan.”
Walker took early retirement in 1993. Intentionally keeping her focus on racial justice and reconciliation, she was instrumental in creating and securing funding for Trans-STAR, a program jointly sponsored by Transylvania County Schools and the Dispute Settlement Center which brought seventh graders from Brevard and Rosman middle schools together for a day of “Appreciating Diversity.” A county-wide Listening Project conducted by volunteers trained by the Dispute Settlement Center yielded more information on racial attitudes in the community.
By 1996 Pastor Frederick Gordon asked Walker to help do something for children in the neighborhood surrounding Bethel A Baptist Church. Together and in concert with a planning committee, they designed the Rise & Shine Afterschool Program. Opening its doors in the fall of 1996, this program, now affiliated with the Children’s Defense Fund, has served many students from the immediate community and beyond.
Rise & Shine has been a “container” in which volunteers from many churches and organizations have enjoyed sustained relationships with students and their families and the racial healing that caring and friendship provide all participants. While similar grassroots afterschool programs have a life expectancy of 3-5 years, Rise & Shine is this year celebrating 15 years of “enriching students, empowering parents and encouraging community.”
Neighbors in Ministry, Inc. an antiracism team, of which Walker is a member, has offered numerous workshops for Rise & Shine volunteers, local churches and beginning this year, Transylvania County School personnel.
Walker’s work has been acknowledged by several organizations. She was among the first group of women named by the local chapter of American Association of University Women as “Woman of the Year.”
In 1999 she received the coveted Nancy Susan Reynolds Award from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation honoring her as an “unsung hero” in North Carolina. The same year, she received the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award from Virginia Theological Seminary, honoring outstanding service as an Episcopalian. The Pisgah Forest Rotary Club named Walker a Paul Harris Fellow.More >
Rev. Anthony David and Rev. Marti Keller are ministers at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta
Blog post by Rev. Marti Keller
On July 1, Georgia’s new state immigration law went into effect, following a federal court judge’s decision to enjoin a couple of the provisions, but allowing for most of them, similar to the law passed in Arizona last year.
A protest March and Rally took place beginning at the State Capitol on Saturday, July 2 in which a number of UUCA congregants, staff and both ministers took part. Many wore yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts as part of our associational campaign to promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations. The Atlanta congregation participants were joined by clergy and members of other local UU congregations.
Crowd estimates were from 10,000 to 15,000 people jamming the streets on a hot, humid day. The speeches and the march itself were interspersed with shouts of Si Se Puede
( Yes We Can), a campaign theme of President Obama .
The Unitarian Universalist contingent added their voices, singing “We Are Standing on the Side of Love”to the tune of Siyahamba, as we had practiced during the General Assembly in Charlotte.
Rev. Anthony David, senior minister, wearing his ministerial collar, spoke at the rally following the march, asking policy makers in Georgia and those who will be asked to enforce the law to remember the universal Golden Rule of doing unto others what we would have done unto us. “There’s always been suspicion towards so-called outsiders, he said, “a pattern of fear in which the Golden Rule gets thrown out on its ear, and some group living among us becomes…a convenient scapegoat for problems that are bigger than any one group, problems that come from centers of power…”
Rev. Anthony David also spoke at the event:
We will be continuing our focus on immigration as a human rights issue and multi-culturalism within our congregation and community into the next program year. We are planning a reception and tour at the nearby Latin American Association in the fall. The purpose of this is to make people aware of the needs of the Latino community, the services provided and the many different ways we can be supportive. Some of their needs include:
- Driving families who do not have access to transportation to detention centers to visit family members that have been detained by ICE.
- Raising funds to put up billboards which reflect positive messages about immigrants.
- Hosting a citizenship drive or recruit volunteers for a citizenship drive. The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials( GALEO) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) are planning two citizenship drives and will need volunteers – one is being planned for the fall and one in the spring.
Monitoring the redistricting process in GA to ensure the process is fair to minorities and respond as necessary.
- Putting pressure at the Federal level for immigration reform (Senator Robert Mendez and others will be re-introducing a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that includes the DREAM Act).
- Putting pressure on the Obama administration to STOP the immigration raids which are separating families.
We will continue to work with grassroots partners and other Unitarian Universalist Congregations in Georgia, as well as working to connect with other progressive faith groups.More >
Over the past couple of weeks, Unitarian Universalist congregations from across the country have celebrated Pride and the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in a plethora of amazing ways. Here are some shining examples:
Capital Pride Parade in Washington, DC
Elizabeth Fogarty of the UU Church of Arlington says, “What was really wonderful was that it was a whole group of UU congregations coming together for the Pride Parade and Festival. No one congregation took the lead or did all the work. It was truly a shared effort. Not only did we Stand on the Side of Love for GLBT equality, but we reached beyond our individual congregations to do it.”
Marching on the Side of Love in Iowa
The UU Fellowship of Ames and the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines joined together to march with their Standing on the Side of Love banners at the 2011 Pride March. Between the two congregations, they had 132 participants, wow!
Third Annual Gay Rights March in Racine, Wisconsin
Olympia Brown UU Church and the LGBT Center of Southeast Wisconsin co-hosted Racine, Wisconsin’s third Gay Rights March in honor of Pride Weekend. OBUUC minister Tony Larsen says that the congregation organized the first march in 2009 in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. They specifically tailored it to be a “gay rights” event instead of a “pride” event to make it safe space for community members who may not be out to participate.
The event had interfaith participation from a local Episcopal church and Mayor John Dickert even turned up to give a speech and issued a proclamation declaring June 26, 2011 as “Gay Rights Day” in Racine. It was also the inaugural event for the congregation’s brand new Standing on the Side of Love banner!
For more photos and video of the event, check out the local news coverage.
Standing on the Side of Love with Ugandans in Georgia
Congregations in Aiken and Augusta, Georgia celebrated Pride weekend by hosting Rev. Mark Kiyimba, head of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Uganda and outspoken opponent of the country’s recent anti-homosexuality bill.
In Aiken, the Sunday morning service featured Rev. Kiyimba and they later screened the documentary “Homosexuality: Africa’s Last Taboo.” The congregation in Augusta held a “Walking in the Light of Love” service followed by a screening of “Missionaries of Hate.” What a great example of standing on the side of love across oceans and continents!More >
Rev. James C. (Jay) Leach is a minister at Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Last Friday, thousands of Unitarian Universalists gathered for an inspiring “Faith Community Rally Against Homophobia & Transphobia” in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. With debate about an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment all but guaranteed in an upcoming special session of our legislature, the Standing on the Side of Love campaign partnered with local faith leaders, Equality North Carolina, the Human Rights Campaign and others to raise our voices against this bigoted proposal.
Our rally was widely covered in the press and we successfully gathered hundreds of signatures to business leaders and legislators expressing our opposition.
Many of you recently signed on to our petition calling on leaders of North Carolina-based corporations to oppose this effort to write discrimination into our state’s constitution. With more than 2,000 of you taking action, these businesses, including Bank of America, are starting to hear us, but they have NOT yet come out to oppose this discriminatory legislation.
Because I live here, I can tell you: Bank of America holds tremendous power in North Carolina and could influence other businesses to join them in calling on our state legislature to reject this proposed anti-LGBT amendment. While the bank is progressive in offering same-sex partner benefits, they need to understand that offering this benefit without also opposing this legislation leaves their LGBT employees vulnerable and creates an environment that is bad for business.
I am asking for your immediate help. We need to persuade Bank of America to oppose this legislation in the state where they are headquartered. Will you join us in letting Bank of America know that institutionalized discrimination is unjust, bad for business and bad for our community? There’s an easy action you can take that has the potential to make a big difference.
Please take a moment and make a quick phone call to Bank of America spokesperson Scott Silvestri.
Scott Silvestri, Spokesperson, Bank of America: 1-980-388-9921
Please let Mr. Silvestri know that we are asking Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and other bank executives to encourage state lawmakers to reject this anti-LGBT amendment. Please leave a message if you are unable to speak to anyone.
Here is a script you can use:
“Hello, my name is ________. (If you are a customer at Bank of America please say that.) I am calling to urge CEO Brian Moynihan and others at the bank to oppose the effort to add an anti-gay amendment to the North Carolina state constitution. Please ask Mr. Moynihan and others to publicly denounce the amendment because it is bad for Bank of America’s customers, bad for Bank of America’s employees and bad for business. Thank You.”
After you make the call, please share how it went on our Facebook wall or by responding to this email:
Standing on the Side of Love Facebook Page:
The thrilling victory in New York last week shows us what can happen when we join together. Now we need your help in my state. Please, join this important effort to head off anti-LGBT bigotry. Standing together on the side of love, we really can make a difference!
Rev. James C. (Jay) Leach, Minister
Unitarian Universalist Church of CharlotteMore >