Why We Display a “Black Lives Matter” Banner
First Parish Church in Weston
As our country faces the painful consequences of its history of systemic racism recently ignited by the deaths of African Americans by law enforcement, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others, the Standing Committee of First Parish Church in Weston has unanimously voted to place a sign on our front lawn as a symbol of our solidarity with the black community, and our commitment to welcome individuals of all ethnic and spiritual backgrounds to First Parish Church, Unitarian Universalist.
Our sign does not represent a commitment to any specific organization, but instead represents a commitment to empathy and to action. We acknowledge that every life matters but also recognize that not all lives have endured a history of systematic exploitation and discrimination. Most of us did not learn African American history in school and are just now fully realizing what has occurred in the past and what is happening still today.
We acknowledge that our community and our nation were built upon racism and white supremacy policies. We recognize that racism permeates every single system of our country – our economy, criminal justice system, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, voting rights, and environmental protections.
First Parish Church has a long history of working for racial justice. Many of our members have worked diligently to support the work of the UU Urban Ministry in the Roxbury community, and our members were actively involved in founding the Roxbury Weston Preschool, which continues to be housed in our building. A dedicated portion of our Church budget is allocated to our Outreach Committee, which supports a number of organizations serving diverse populations. In addition, many of our members continue to support the METCO program in Weston, and we hosted the METCO 50th Anniversary event last year at our church. We have sponsored speakers, forums, and book discussions to educate ourselves on racial justice.
We have not done enough.
The placement of a sign on our front lawn is intended to declare and represent our commitment to do more and to maintain a sustained dialogue with each other and the greater community about our roles in redressing ongoing racial discrimination, racial injustice, and social inequality.
In this time when, once again, the fire of racial injustice has been ignited, we commit to sustaining our intention to actively care and not to resume a “disassociated normal” that has happened too often in the history of our church and our society.
We commit to the following:
- Dialogue: Hold open dialogues with our members and with the greater community that respect the values and opinions of everyone.
- Sustained Engagement: Create and sustain a Social Justice Task Force that, as part of its overall mission, will be responsible for annually defining and assessing specific racial justice actions that our church will take.
- Active Participation: Ask each Social Justice Task Force member to define how they plan to work toward racial justice by participating in the work of the UU Urban Ministry and/or one of the organizations sponsored by our Outreach Committee and/or taking the lead on an activity sponsored by the Task Force.
- Ongoing Racial Justice Education: Sponsor and publicize regular, periodic programs open to the community, including personal stories, book discussions, films, and lectures on the reality of racism in our society.
- Assessment: Assess and evaluate progress on each commitment and set new goals for the coming year.
We believe we are all called to work towards that “more perfect union” that our Constitution so elegantly names. Our country’s history is defined in part by separation and exploitation. Our future will hopefully be one of justice, compassion, and unity; the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King foresaw and foretold.
…O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
References & Resources
We have curated a collection of links, references, and resources about racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
These resources include books, movies/television, articles & podcasts, resources for parents & children, non-profit organizations and Boston-area minority-owned businesses, and Unitarian Universalist organizations, statements, lectures, and articles. Like all of us, these web pages are a work in progress; there is no such thing as a full collection of racial justice resources, so these lists will be updated regularly as we encounter new information and resources. If you have a good suggestion, please feel free to reach out.
We believe Black Lives Matter — Join the Dialogue