Dismantling White Supremacy Culture Resource of the Month
Rev. Lucas Hergert, North Shore Unitarian Church
A Youth Group Trip to the Legacy Museum
When it comes to anti-racism & justice work in my congregation, I have found that our youth often lead the way. Four years ago, they were the group that asked the congregation to endorse Black Lives Matter. Through education during coffee hour, invitation to the local BLM group to speak with our congregation, and then advocating for a vote on the issue, they ensured successful congregational support. We now proudly display a BLM banner.
This year, they led the way again. Moved to learn more about the history of racism, they began planning a trip to Bryan Stevenson’s Legacy Museum. As the trip approached, the youth pursued deeper learning about anti-racism. The trip also developed into something more than only visiting the Legacy Museum: we decided to do a full weekend of touring Civil Rights locations.
And so in late March, I got in a van with another advisor and with our youth. We drove 11 hours from Deerfield, Illinois to Birmingham, Montgomery & Selma, Alabama. We visited the churches that had been bombed during the Civil Rights era. We went to the Civil Rights Institute as well as the Civil Rights Memorial. We toured the roadside memorials to James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo—two Unitarian heroes who died during the struggle for Civil Rights. We also crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge that marks the site of Bloody Sunday.
By far the most moving part of the trip was the Legacy Museum. This interactive experience brings visitors through four hundred years of enslavement, segregation, white supremacist violence, and mass incarceration. After it ends, visitors can go to the Lynching Memorial. For much of the tour, the participants walked through exhibits weeping. It was painful, raw, and one of the most moving experiences I had the privilege of doing with a congregation I serve. I could not recommend it more.
Upon returning, my youth group wanted to do a Sunday service. They shared what they learned from this experience, what it had taught them about justice, and what their next steps are as a youth group. I am moved by their commitment and activism, and so grateful to have had this experience myself. Inspired by the learning that the youth have done, we now have an adult group that is making plans to visit the Museum next church year.