Living Legacy Day 5: February 15, 2009

But Where Have You Been?

By Gini Courter

Unitarian Universalist Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage

"But where have you been?" Unitarian Universalists (UUs) point with pride to the time when hundreds of ministers came to Selma, when the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees recessed, traveled from Boston to Selma, and reconvened the Board meeting in Selma to stand with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A beautiful memorial to Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo, and James Reeb hangs on the wall of the second floor chapel at 25 Beacon Street, the room the board meets in three times a year. We have a shrine to remind us that the dream is not yet fulfilled.

"But where have you been?" We are politically active lovers of democracy. We have elected an African American President of the UUA. We worked hard—many of us—to do the same for the entire country. There is progress, and cause for hope, and the dream is not yet fulfilled.

"But where have you been?" Spend a few observant moments in Selma and you know that the dream is not yet fulfilled. Open your eyes in the place you call home. Selma is not merely a town in Alabama, or a point in American history. Selma is in Michigan and Massachusetts, in South Carolina and California, New York and Maryland. Selma is each time and every location where Unitarian Universalists heard the call for people of good will to assemble and bear witness. Selma is every temporal geography in which we answered that call...and later retreated in confusion or fear or fatigue.

"But where have you been?" The question echoes over the decades. How will we answer?

Gini Courter is the Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association, a position she has held since 2003. A version of this story appears on Gini's blog, "Just Gini."

Gini Courter, speaking.
Gini Courter, UUA Moderator, is on the UU Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage.
Jimmie Lee Jackson gravestone.
Memorial to Jimmie Lee Jackson, murdered during the civil rights struggle of the 1960's.