Black Lives Matter
Members at the Black Lives Matter/UCWC table Community Day at the Melton Center in West Chester.
Mission: To support the Black Lives Matter movement, its call for racial justice, and its affirmation of the value of black lives across society.
Co-chairs: Flo Miller & Sandy Schaal Email: black-lives-matter
In a celebratory program open to the outside community, the Unitarian Congregation of West Chester raised its Black Lives Matter banner above the porch at our 501 South High Street building on March 29, 2016. An enlarged more visible banner was hung on the outside stucco wall after renovations to the building over the summer and fall of 2017.
Authorization to hang the banner had been granted by resolution in an almost unanimous vote of the congregation earlier in March 2016.
Formed when the banner was first raised, UCWC’s Black Lives Matter Committee has been actively supporting activities to raise consciousness on what it means to live in a society where white privilege is dominant and minority citizens exist under a cloud of suspicion and threatened violence. These activities have been directed both inward to educate members and friends of the congregation and outward to involve the wider community.
Outward activities include a monthly showing of films featuring black actors and directors with a discussion afterwards. Members of the outside community are invited to attend. The upcoming showing of The Princess and the Frog is part of that effort. The Committee is currently working on a monthly schedule for the new year.
Looking inward at the membership of UCWC, the Committee has adopted a long-range goal to provide the programs and activities necessary to meet the criteria of a fully anti-racist congregation. Central to this effort are activities that will educate the congregation on the roots of white privilege and its deleterious effects on white as well as black lives. The Committee has initiated meetings with UCWC leadership toward meeting this goal and led an upcoming Town Hall Meeting on what it means to be an anti-racist congregation. The Committee also hopes to contribute to a new long-range plan.
Other Black Lives Matter activities since the banner was raised are:
- Most recently, the committee completed a series of congregational discussions on the UUA Common Read Centering. Prior to that, the Common Read Just Mercy was the subject of a congregational discussion. The committee plans to schedule similar discussions in early 2019 with the UUA Common Read ˆJustice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and Environment.
- In an extension of the workshop discussions, the Committee in late June showed the film Come Sunday, which describes the faith journey of a black Pentecostal minister to a current position as preacher at All Souls UU Church in Tulsa, OK.
- The Committee has expanded upon an existing relationship with St. Paul’s Baptist Church (the largest black congregation in West Chester). The relationship has centered on our participation in, and help with the planning for, the Martin Luther King Day of Service. Expanded activities with St. Paul’s are:
- On the Sunday of Martin Luther King Weekend (Jan. 14, 2018) a member of the Black Lives Matter Committee led a service on civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who was born and raised in West Chester. The Committee followed up on Feb. 25 with a showing of Brother Outsider, the PBS film on the life of Bayard Rustin. The film was open to and attended by members of the outside community, including members of St. Paul’s.
- Members of the Committee have attended and assisted at events sponsored by MLK365, a St. Paul’s organization committed to carrying out the work and vision of Martin Luther King throughout the year. Members of the Committee and other UCWC members assisted at two Candidates Nights sponsored by MLK365 prior to the Nov. 8 General Election. Candidates for office from both the Republican and Democratic Parties were invited to participate in these non-Partisan events.
- Members of St. Paul’s and of several other black congregations in West Chester were part of the celebration held when we originally raised our Black Lives Matter Banner. They shared with us their experiences as black families in West Chester during the program.
- Later that summer, they were part of a vigil for black men and women killed at the hands of police across the nation.
- Members of the Committee participated in a vigil for Black Lives Matter organized by the youth of St. Paul’s in the summer of 2016 and held at the King of Prussia Court and Plaza.
- Members of the Committee have attended services at St. Paul’s and will continue to do so on occasion in the future.
- Juliana Mosley, a professional diversity trainer, spoke at a Sunday service on April 23, 2017, and was well received.
- Some 30 members and friends of the congregation participated in a six-session workshop on “Examining Whiteness” from October through mid-December 2017. The workshop introduced participants to the history of white supremacy in this country and its manifestation in everyday life, frequently in subtle ways.
- Members of the Committee have participated in two Jubilee trainings at neighboring Main Line Unitarian Church, the most recent occurring in March of 2018.