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September 15, 2007

In mid-September All Souls Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Shreveport held the first multi-racial, multi-faith prayer service for social justice and anti-racism since the days of David Duke. The service, in support of the Jena Six, was covered by local television and the Shreveport Times.

The Reverend Lyn Oglesby and members of the All Souls congregation formed a double line to greet guests from local churches, a member of the City Council, a state Senator, several politicians and civic leaders, and clergy.

After Rev. Oglesby explained the chalice lighting ceremony to guests, the chalice was lit by Pastor Jackie Dozier of the United Community Church, and this was followed by a call to worship by Rev. Oglesby.

Pastor Aaron Dobynes of Evergreen Baptist Church delivered the sermon, a large part of which recalled the ministry of James Reeb, thereby connecting Unitarian Universalists to the civil rights movement. Pastor Dobynes spoke of the need to stand up to injustice, with both peacefullness and strength.

Henry Walker, prominent Shreveport civil rights and criminal defense attorney, gave an insider's view of the case of the Jena Six, as he has been working closely with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Walker helped secure the counsel of James Boren, a brilliant defense attorney from Baton Rouge, for the Jena youths charged in the case. Now that the cases will be reviewed in the juvenile justice system, Walker will act as one of the lead defense attorneys.

Walker gave a passionate review of the racism at play in the Louisiana judicial processes, ending with "We will not stand for it!" (referring to the inequities practiced). Walker also praised State Senator Lydia Jackson (who attended the service) for achieving passage of a bill allocating fund for an overhaul of the Louisian Public Defender System.

Pastor Jackie Dozier shared comments from Rev. William G. Sinkford, Unitarian Universalist Association President, from the pulpit, and Sister Mitchell, a soloist from Evergreen Baptist Church, offered a rich and passionate musical interlude. The gathering sang "We Shall Overcome," "We'll Build a Land," "Lift Every Voice," and "Amazing Grace."

Rev. Oglesby closed with a benediction urging the gathered community to do something every single day to support and teach the children of tomorrow, and to work for social justice (every single day).

The service concluded as worshipers enjoyed a dinner provided by All Souls UU Church, and discussed plans for going to Jena on September 20, 2007, for further action.

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