May Day 2017: UUs Grow Solidarity

By Rachel Walden, Susan Leslie

Love Resists is guided by three powerful principles: expand sanctuary, grow solidarity, and raise our voices. On May 1st, Unitarian Universalists demonstrated their solidarity by joining immigrant, refugee, Muslim, Black and Brown, indigenous, LGBTQ communities, workers, women, environmental justice activists, and all who support a vibrant and diverse future for our country to rise up and show our unity.

In communities across the country and around the globe, people shared a message of resistance to policies of fear and hatred that criminalize our neighbors and communities. For Unitarian Universalists, this was an opportunity to center immigrant voices and serve in immigrant communities. Some marched in rallies, participated in teach-ins, engaged in advocacy meetings with elected officials, sent postcards to Congress, and some took part in direct actions and civil disobedience. We share some highlights from the day below.

Support Immigrant Rights in Your Community

  • Send a postcard to a congressional leader that needs to stand with immigrants.
  • Read about key issues shaping the future of the immigrants rights movement after May 1.
Person wearing SSL stole and carrying basket of bread and roses

Rev. Lee Bluemel of North Parish of North Andover Unitarian Universalist Church (pictured at left carrying a basket of bread and roses), Rev. Frank Clarkson of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Haverhill, Rev. Ellen Spero of First Parish of Chelmsford, Rev. Lara Hoke of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, and dozens of congregation members joined with the immigrant rights group Cosecha for a Day Without Immigrants Rally in Lawrence, MA on May 1st. The congregations are all part of the recently-formed Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network, working to protect undocumented immigrants in their communities. On Sunday, April 30th, North Parish also organized a rally for immigrant justice on the town common to bring attention to following days' planned events and bring immigration issues to light in town.

People holding sign supporting immigrants

Unitarian Universalists from Washington Ethical Society (WES) joined the immigrant justice march in Washington, DC on May Day. WES minister, Rev. Amanda Poppei said of the event, "Trump calls May 1st 'Loyalty Day.' We showed our loyalty to immigrant friends and neighbors. Loyalty to the immigrants in my own family. Loyalty to the dream of America as a place where all are welcome. Loyalty to the beauty possible if we look beyond borders and see one human family."

Two people pose for photo, one holds a sign supporting immigrants

In California, Rev. Beth Johnson of Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship reports that Unitarian Universalists joined a beautiful May Day rally and march in Vista, followed by a community gathering at a newly-acquired great space. The next day we hosted a town hall to talk about why the county of San Diego must invest in San Diego families.

People walking holding signs and wearing SSL shirts

Dozens of Unitarian Universalists from Oakland and Berkley, CA joined the May Day march down International Boulevard and rally in San Antonio Park in Oakland organized by immigrant and people of color-led groups. The march was spirited, with lots of music. Many of the businesses along the route were closed to show their solidarity with the one-day strike. Helen Duffy reflected, "I am grateful to be part of a spiritual community that lives its values.This was a moment for allies to step up, and we did."

People standing holding signs supporting immigrants

Members of Conejo Valley UU Fellowship joined their immigrant neighbors in a May Day march in Oxnard, California.

People standing holding signs supporting immigrants and SSL

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fullerton attended a May 1st march and rally in Anaheim, CA.

About the Authors

Rachel Walden

Rachel Walden is the senior digital and marketing strategy manager in the UUA Office of Outreach and Public Witness.

Susan Leslie

Susan Leslie is retired and was the Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association. She has worked in the UUA’s national social justice and multicultural staff teams since 1991.

For more information contact .

On May 1st in Austin, Texas, Rev. Chuck Freeman, Director of the Texas UU Justice Ministry (, joined other protesters to occupy the state Governor's office in protest of Senate Bill 4, which would require local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.

Watch the video

At an event held at the Auckland Unitarian Church in Ponsonby, New Zealand, members joined with migrant works to unite and call for the government to stop scapegoating immigrants for the country's problems.

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Just as love knows no borders, our dedication to justice reaches across boundaries and walls. We stand on the side of love with all families, regardless of citizenship status, and strive to create welcoming communities and congregations.

Learn more