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BLUU organizers and Kansas City organizers gather

Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism and Kansas City organizers gather for dinner at Uzazi Village. 

Public Witness at General Assembly
Public Witness at General Assembly
General Assembly, Social Justice at GA

Public Witness 2018 hosted by Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism!

We are excited to announce that Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) has agreed to take on the lead role for Public Witness at the 2018 UUA General Assembly in Kansas City, MO.

We need your participation! This year our prophetic ministry at GA will not include a demonstration or rally. Instead we will kick off our #EndMoneyBail work and materially support local Kansas City organizing. So instead of your marching shoes, please bring a gently used purse or bag and generously support the Wish List of items for the care package build. Please support whether or not you will be in Kansas City!

Public Witness: “Anatomy of a Bailout” Panel Discussion

Thursday June 21st 1-2:30 p.m. in Room 2105 (PDF)

Learn how the 2018 #MamasDayBailout in Kansas City came to be! Come hear about the process of executing a Bailout to free community members from remaining in jail simply because they cannot pay bail. Learn how congregations and our resources can be of use in resisting this way that people are criminalized for being poor. We’ll lift up the need to both alleviate the suffering now via Bailouts and push legislatively to actually #EndMoneyBail. BLUU and Love Resists will roll out our congregational #EndMoneyBail Toolkit at the panel. Moderated by Leslie Mac with Justice Gaston from Reale Justice Network & ACLU, MO, national and local organizers. Panel will be livestreamed from the GA 2018 online page.

Public Witness: Care Package Build Project

For the duration of General Assembly or until we reach our goal in Hall D

Join the Care Package Build Project where attendees will build Domestic Violence Care Packages for the Kansas City community. The space will be set up and open throughout General Assembly. Our goal is create 1,000 Care Package Bags in four days! This will take the Reale Justice team through the winter in terms of supply needs—a TRUE gift to these efforts in Kansas City.

Please bring a gently used purse or bag and drop them off directly in Hall D. And generously support the Wish List of items for the care package build. When ordering, for shipping choose "Shawnee Mission UU Church - ATTN: Gaby for BLUU's Gift Registry Address."

Public Witness: People of Color & Indigenous Hands On Project at Uzazi Village

Saturday June 23rd 3-7pm. Off-site. Registration required!

An Uzazi Village coordinated, BLUU funded on site project inviting People of Color & Indigenous General Assembly attendees to come to Uzazi Village to complete a hands on project and learn more about the work Mama Hakima is doing in Kansas City. Uzazi Village is dedicated to improving health inequities with models of care that are community supported and sustained. Their vision is for every family, a healthy baby; for every baby, a healthy village.

Make sure to register by June 15th to confirm your place. This is for people who identify as people of color (of African Descent, Black, Caribbean, Native/American Indian/Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o/x and Hispanic, Middle Eastern/Arab, and Multiracial). Youth of color should consult their sponsors first but are welcome to attend. 

Gather at 3pm on Saturday between room 2100 and 2200 on 13th street between Broadway and Central.
Bus departs convention center at 3:15pm.
Bus departs from Uzazi Village at 6:30pm.
Bus arrives back at the convention center at 7pm.
Food will be available!

How We Got Here

For BLUU it is clear that the role of Public Witness during General Assembly is to ensure that our efforts address the material needs of those most effected by injustice and to leave a lasting gift to the marginalized communities where we gather to rejoice, worship and do the business of our faith.

BLUU has always sought out opportunities to make authentic, effective connections between the UU faith and Black people doing incredible justice and equity work in their communities. For the last five months the BLUU Lead Team & Staff have been making connections with a host of incredible Black  organizers in Kansas City leading to an incredible community dinner at Uzazi Village on Wednesday, April 25.

From this dinner two issues of focus for Public Witness 2018 emerged:

  • End Money Bail: The national efforts to end the exploitative and unjust bail system in the United States have come to Kansas City and to the rest of the country as well. Part of Public Witness 2018 will include ways for attendees at General Assembly to support the Black organizers with the Reale Justice Network supported by the ACLU of Missouri in moving the End Money Bail efforts in Kansas City forward. In addition, for those unable to make the trip to Kansas City, BLUU has partnered with Love Resists to create a series of toolkits focused on education, advocacy and action to help UU Congregations plug directly into the important work already taking place in their communities to End Money Bail.
  • Black & Brown Pre/Post Natal Wellness: The recent national attention via multiple reports highlighting the dangerous state of the health and wellness of Black Mothers and children is something the Black and Brown Kansas City organizing community has long been working on. General Assembly attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the local efforts here in Kansas City from the leadership of Uzazi Village a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health inequities in the KC community, with models of care that can be community supported and sustained and replicated throughout the country.

We are excited to bring this new energy to Public Witness 2018 and to truly lean into our faith beliefs to leave a lasting gift to the people of Kansas City. For BLUU Public Witness is faith work—it is tied directly to our UU Principles and we are overjoyed to be able live more fully into those beliefs together at General Assembly.


#LoveResists Rejoicing for Sanctuary & Solidarity

In New Orleans, Unitarian Universalists celebrated expanding the notion of sanctuary to help create safe spaces for all people under threat, and rejoice in the solidarity of working with community partners. We began in distinctly New Orleans style with Young & Talented New Orleans Brass Band leading us in a “second-line” style procession to the event site, a tradition established by black New Orleanians to express grief and celebrate life which has offered cultural resistance to systemic oppression for generations. FreeQuency, spoken word artist, Rev. Juanita Ramos, Congreso de Jornaleros New Orleans, Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and Rev. Darcy Roake shared stories of creating sanctuary emceed by Sara Green. 


State of Emergence: Faith Filled People Rally for Racial Justice

UUs gathered on Thursday, June 23 in collaboration with the Ohio Student Association, the People’s Justice Project, UU Justice Ohio and our multi-faith partners, for an interfaith event focusing on truth telling, fortification and commitment to boldly work for Black liberation. Speakers included Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Alicia Garza, President Rev. Peter Morales, and other Movement for Black Lives and multifaith leaders.


A Sacred Public Witness: Commit2Respond to Climate Change

On June 27, 2015, almost 2,400 Unitarian Universalists and allies gathered for "A Sacred Public Witness," sponsored by Commit2Respond, the new UU climate justice coalition. Attendees listened to the story, struggle, and wisdom of leaders from Lummi Nation, who are on the front lines of the environmental crisis, and then co-created a powerful ritual of sending blessings to the four directions and making spiritual commitments to climate justice.  

Speakers included Lummi Nation Councilman and treaty rights activist Jay Julius, Lummi Elder, international climate justice activist, and totem pole carver Jewell Praying Wolf James, and Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev. Peter Morales. Music was provided by Shamania James, singer/songwriter Dana Lyons, and President of Plant for the Planet and founder of Earth Guardians Seattle Aji Piper and his brother Adonis Williams.

Watch the recording of the event, check out the full coverage from UU World, and most importantly, find out six ways to take action in support of Lummi Nation and other front lines communities.


WaterFire Providence—Love Reaches Out

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Cornel West

On Saturday June 28, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) cosponsored WaterFire Providence under the theme “Love Reaches Out,” honoring our belief that love is justice and witnessing for the power of love to change the world in radical, faithful ways.

WaterFire is a non-profit riverfront community arts festival whose mission is to foster community engagement and creatively transform the city. The festival includes music, art, ritual, and the signature feature of lighting braziers of wood on the river. It is a celebration of community, the arts, and the natural world.

As the UU World reported, "tens of thousands of people joined in with Unitarians Universalists at the dramatic WaterFire event on Saturday night in downtown Providence, RI. As night fell, Unitarian Universalists in their bright yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts were easy to spot in the enormous crowds lining the riverbanks, as torch bearers on boats lit a series of 80 giant braziers in the middle of the city’s three rivers. As the flames reached high, music that expressed the GA theme, Love Reaches Out, filled the night air." Read the whole story and check out photos and social media posts from the event.


Where is Our Energy? Witness for Earth, Our Communities, and Our Future

UUs marched from the Louisville Convention Center to the Belvedere, a promenade overlooking the Ohio River, where musicians, activists, and ministers led them in song and prayer. “We can choose another way,” UUA President Peter Morales said. “We need not live in a way that degrades the planet.” He urged UUs to work for environmental justice together and with their faith partners “for all of humanity and all of the earth.” More from UUWorld

Joining the UUs were people from many faith communities, including representatives from Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Native Americans, Presbyterians, Hindus, and members of the United Church of Christ. Many environmental groups were represented as well, including Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, 350 Louisville, and the Sierra Club. Author, spiritual environmental justice activist, economic critic, and farmer Wendell Berry and activist Tim DeChristopher also spoke.


Interfaith Witness for Human Rights: Candlelight Vigil at Tent City Jail

Over 2,000 people are being held at Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s infamous Tent City Jail. Another 6,000 people are being held in other Maricopa County jails in the same areas, south of W. Durango St. To date over 427,000 inmates have gone through Tent City Jail where people are crowded together on wooden planks in broiling heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.

UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, United Church of Christ General Minister & President Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, other interfaith clergy, and local UU and human rights leaders participated. Multimedia coverage.


Standing on the Side of Love with LGBT People Everywhere!

Rev. Peter Morales, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Minister of the UU Church of Kampala, Uganda, Ian Palmquist, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina Interfaith, and community partners joined together for a witness to help spread our values of equality and justice, inclusion and acceptance. Event Flyer (PDF)


Standing on the Side of Love for Marriage Equality

General Assembly attendees were invited to join in an Interfaith Community Public Witness Event at the Twin Cities’ Pride Weekend—the fourth largest bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) PRIDE in the nation. Full story.


Members of the General Assembly joined Unitarian Universalist Association President William Sinkford, Bishop John C. Wester, The Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Rev. Canon Dr. Pablo Ramos, and interfaith and community leaders to Stand on the Side of Love with Immigrant Families.


Public Witness at General Assembly 2008 (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) was Valuing ALL Families: Interfaith Community Witness Event—Immigrant & BGLT Families (PDF).

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