As the United Nations commemorates Human Rights Day 2020, join the Unitarian Universalist Association Office at the UN (UU@UN) in observance at our virtual event The Right to Joy: Women of African Descent Ascending. Against this year’s challenges, women and girls of African descent have magnificently persevered, despite constant threats to their human rights. This event seeks to affirm their acts of resistance and strength amid adversity and celebrate Black women and girls globally. Through Audre Lorde’s acclaimed concept of radical self-care, we will look at the significance of claiming joy within this community and healthy spiritual wellbeing for resilience-building and healing during this time.
Four powerful panelists share what joy means to them, its positive effects on mental health, and self-preservation as a tool for social justice. Through highlighting happiness and rejoicing in triumph, the UU@UN hopes to help protect the human rights of women of African descent worldwide.
This event took place on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 12-1:30pm EST, and is co-sponsored by the NGO Committee on Human Rights, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, 2021 Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism, NYU Silver Graduate Student Association, and Justice for All.
Rev. Traci Blackmon
Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for 9 years, prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 162-year history of Christ The King United Church of Christ. Rev. Blackmon leads Christ The King in an expanded understanding of church as a sacred launching pad of community engagement and change. A registered nurse with more than 25 years of healthcare experience, Rev. Blackmon's clinical focus was cardiac care and in later years her focus shifted to mobile healthcare in underserved communities with the greatest health disparities in her region. Rev. Blackmon's signature initiatives have included Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit, a mobile faith-based outreach program she designed to impact health outcomes in impoverished areas. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Birmingham - Southern College (1985), and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (2009).
Dr. Iva Carruthers
Dr. Iva E. Carruthers is General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC), an interdenominational organization within the African American faith tradition focused on justice and equity issues. She has steered the organization as a unique, influential and esteemed network of faith based advocates, activists, clergy and lay. Dr. Carruthers has a long history of teaching, engagement in community development initiatives and social justice ministry, fostering interdenominational and interfaith dialogue and leading study tours for the university and church throughout in the United States, Caribbean, South America and Africa.She received the B.A. degree from the University of Illinois; the M.A. and the Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University; a Master in Theological Studies degree from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Humane Letters, Meadville Lombard Theological School. Awards and postdoctoral fellowships received by Dr. Carruthers include Northwestern University Center for Urban Affairs, The Russell Sage Foundation, University of Chicago, Adlai Stevenson Institute for International Affairs and The National Endowment for the Humanities.
Rev. Alicia R. Forde
Reverend Alicia Roxanne Forde serves with the Unitarian Universalist Association as the Director of the International Office. She is a graduate of The Iliff School of Theology and currently lives in Longmont, Colorado. Alicia was born and spent her formative years in Trinidad and Tobago. She identifies as a queer, cis-gender woman of African descent with deep roots in Tobago. She considers herself bi-cultural and is grateful that her formative years enabled her to cultivate a global perspective. In her 14 years of ministry, Alicia has developed a passion for engaging individuals and communities in what they care about most and working alongside others as they seek to enact Love and Justice in this world. Alicia is a certified Spiritual Director and has a strong interest in health and wellness. When she's not hiking, you can find her reading, working out, or podcast-walking. She notes that her work (and play!) rests on a foundation of collaboration, deep listening, transnational feminism, and wrestling with the legacies and impact of settler colonialism and imperialism across the globe.
Professor Pia Raymond, MSW, LMSW (NY)
Pia Raymond earned a B.A. in psychology from Boston University and an MSW from New York University as an honors graduate, Lucretia Jett Phillips fellow and Nia Award recipient. She has deeply engaged children and families through social work practice at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and the New York City Mission Society. As a community and political activist, Pia ran for NYC Council in 2017 and continued community organizing through leadership in several civic organizations. A champion for literacy with an emphasis on social emotional learning, Pia’s notable children’s book, Celebrate Smiles teaches self-esteem, love and thankfulness. She founded Creating Legacies, a nonprofit organization inspiring community building through nurturing entrepreneurs and offering families diverse social and educational experiences. She continues to share her expertise as a professor of social work with a particular emphasis on the needs of immigrant communities and those reflective of the African Diaspora.
- The Right to Joy Event Program (pdf)
- Watch the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network virtual event 2020 Women of the Diaspora Summit - Addressing Gender & Race Discrimination
- Read on the UUA International Blog: 2020 Women of the Diaspora Summit: Black Women in Global Governance Convene
- 2018 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) publication: "Women and Girls of African Descent: Human Rights Achievement and Challenges" (pdf)
- The Black Youth Project: "Black Joy is Resistance: Why We Need a Movement to Balance Black Triumph with Trials"
- The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz