Black Lives Matter
Mission: To support the Black Lives Matter movement, its call for racial justice, and its affirmation of the value of black lives across society.
Contact: Flo Miller Email: black-lives-matter
The Black Lives Matter Committee hosted diversity trainer Dr. Juliana Mosley as the guest speaker at the April 23 Sunday service. Speaking on “Yes, we Are All Human…But Race Matters,” Dr. Mosley drew parallels between the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan and classes of society today as she challenged us to acknowledge and work to change the systems that continue to divide us on the basis of race. Her insightful talk can be heard here.
With the congregational vote to display a Black Lives Matter banner on our property in March of 2016, we embarked on a continuing exploration of how we can better understand the Black experience in our community and how we can best speak out against injustice and discrimination.
Our historic vote was followed by the raising of the banner in a thought-provoking and joyful celebration several weeks later. Members of the Black community joined us, cheering as the banner went up and sharing their own experiences as Blacks in West Chester. We gained an even deeper understanding of the challenges Blacks face today in a summer vigil at UCWC marking the deaths of Blacks at the hands of the police across the nation. Our Black neighbors attended that event and relayed multiple personal stories of their experiences growing up Black and/or parenting Black children in West Chester.
We also sponsored a congregational read of the book Just Mercy last spring. Our goal was to engage the congregation in a discussion of the challenges Blacks face in a criminal justice system that all too often fails them. Over a dozen members of UCWC joined our Black Lives Matter Committee in a wide-ranging discussion of what the book tells us about our justice system.
We reached beyond the walls of our own building to join St. Paul’s Baptist Church, West Chester, in a silent protest for Black Lives Matter at the King of Prussia Plaza last summer. The protest was beautifully organized and carried out by youth at St. Paul’s. A community conversation with local police departments, also at St. Paul’s, followed some weeks later, while Mount Carmel Baptist Church in the borough held still another community conversation last summer. We had representation at all these events.
Future plans include a second common read this spring. We hope to open the read to the wider community as we seek to join with other religions and organizations in a collaborative effort to fight discrimination locally. We are exploring additional ideas for speakers and possibly a workshop to further raise awareness of the complex issues associated with racism.
Our committee members, meanwhile, have made valuable contacts with other UUs s in the Philadelphia Cluster of UU Congregations. We have attended several workshops at congregations within the cluster, and four committee members will participate in a 3-day anti-racism training session at Main Line Unitarian Church in March.
We invite you to contact our committee if you have questions, ideas, or simply a desire to deepen your understanding of what it means to say Black Lives Matter. We are just beginning to travel the long journey into understanding.
For background on our decision to support the Black Lives Matter movement and hang a banner, click here. You may also email Flo Miller at the address given above. If you attend services, look for the black and yellow ribbons that members of our Black Lives Matter Committee wear on their name tags.