Black Lives Matter and Building a Movement for Racial Justice

UUs march for racial justice in Ferguson, MO.

UUs march for racial justice in St. Louis, MO, for the Ferguson Weekend of Resistance

The racial profiling, police brutality, voting restrictions, and mass imprisonment of African Americans and other people of color in the United States (dubbed the “New Jim Crow” by civil rights advocate and scholar Dr. Michelle Alexander) is a moral outrage.

As Unitarian Universalists (UUs), our dedication to global justice, equity, and dignity leads us to join hands across lines of race, class, age, and geography and work for an end to the injustices faced by black people in our communities, so that every person is treated equally under the law and has a fair chance at life.

Act Now!

  • Join the Black Lives Matter Movement
    Unitarian Universalists everywhere are joining the Black Lives Matter movement. In June 2015, an Action of Immediate Witness was passed by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly. Check out the map of Black Lives Matter banners at our congregations, and find out how to get involved through Standing on the Side of Love. You can also connect with Campaign Zero, the new Black Lives Matter initiative working for policy change to address police killings, excessive force, profiling and racial discrimination, and other problems in law enforcement.
  • Connect with the Moral Monday Forward Together Movement
    A coalition of dozens of groups in North Carolina, including the North Carolina NAACP, have joined together to counter increasingly repressive legislation being enacted by the state legislature, with focuses on racial justice, economic justice, and voting rights. Now the movement is spreading to other states, and Unitarian Universalists are adding our moral voices to the struggle.
  • Advocate for Sentencing Reform
    We are working with the Faith in Action Criminal Justice Reform Working Group to pass this legislation, which would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, reduce excessive sentences for low-level drug offenses, and authorize judicial review of cases sentenced under the old 100 to 1 crack cocaine sentencing disparity for possible resentencing. Stay up to date with the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition on Facebook. Join UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and sign this interfaith clergy letter in support of the Smarter Sentencing Act, write your own letter (PDF), and join the Facebook group UUs Resisting New Jim Crow & Mass Incarceration for updates.
  • Watch Opal Tometi, Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, keynote at Selma 50th Anniversary Marching in the Arc of Justice Conference March 7, 2015
  • Get Into Partnership to Make a Difference
    Ending mass incarceration, racial profiling, police brutality, and disenfranchisement takes relationships and partnerships across lines of difference. Many congregations are involved with a congregation-based community organization—these networks connect faith communities with racial justice leaders and organize for an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and other structural racism. Check out the list at the bottom of this page for more recommended partner groups.

Worship, Learn, and Live Your Faith




  • #BlackLivesMatter, a movement, a call to action, and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that perpetuates our society, created in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
  • Join UUs Resisting the New Jim Crow and Mass Incarceration on Facebook
  • Like Black Lives of UU on Facebook, a community of Black UUs working to expand their role and visibility within Unitarian Universalism.
  • Join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice
  • Building the Movement to End the New Jim Crow,” a 2013 panel discussion from UU leaders on strategies and practices for engaging congregations and communities
  • Resource hub from the Interfaith Organizing Initiative gathering on the intersection of criminalization and race, including videos, documents, and links to build relationships and take action
  • Nation Inside, a platform that connects and supports people who are building a movement to systematically challenge mass incarceration in the United States



Effective justice ministry depends on partnership. UU partners for ending the “New Jim Crow,” beyond the Unitarian Universalist Association, include UU state action networks, Standing on the Side of Love, and the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s prison ministry program. UUs also form interfaith partnerships, such as with the organizations below:

  • American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that includes people of many faiths and works to improve life for prisoners
  • Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, a campaign to build a grassroots movement against mass incarceration, focusing on education and coalition-building
  • Congregation-Based Community Organizations, inter-faith, cross-class, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial grassroots organizations, many of which work to stop school to prison pipelines, replace criminal courts with drug courts, and shut down private prisons
  • Ella Baker Center For Human Rights, a California-based organization that has nationally expanded their Books Not Bars program and its network of families of incarcerated youth
  • Grassroots Leadership, a multi-racial team of community, labor, faith, and campus organizers who work with communities across the country to abolish for-profit prisons, jails, and detention centers
  • Healing Communities, an organization that provides ministry for people returning from or at risk of incarceration, their families, and the larger community, and help congregations become Stations of Hope for those affected by the criminal justice system
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a national organization that works to eliminate race-based discrimination, in part by advocating for addiction and mental health treatment, judicial discretion in sentencing, and an end to racial disparities at all levels of the system
  • The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a cross section of progressive African American faith leaders and congregations that have partnered with Dr. Michelle Alexander and other advocates on a public awareness campaign to address the “New Jim Crow” and mass incarceration
A vigil in solidarity with Ferguson, MO, is held at Eliot Unitarian Chapel, Kirkwood, MO

A vigil in solidarity with Ferguson, MO, is held at Eliot Unitarian Chapel, Kirkwood, MO

UU Community Church of Hendricks County, Danville, IN, proclaims that Black Lives Matter

UU Community Church of Hendricks County, Danville, IN, proclaims that Black Lives Matter. See a map of UU congregations around the US with Black Lives Matter banners.

Panel discussion: "Building the Movement to End The New Jim Crow." Speakers: Rev. Eric Meter, Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Paula Cole Jones

"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and Institutional Racism" workshop by Michelle Alexander (full audio with combination of video and still images)