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UUA Creates Guide for Ken Burns Documentary, Defying the Nazis
UUA Creates Guide for Ken Burns Documentary, Defying the Nazis

Boston, MA – A story of historic courage will be told this fall on PBS (September 20 at 9 p.m., check local listings), in a new Ken Burns film about Martha and Waitstill Sharp. The Sharps were two young Unitarians who stood up against injustice to defy the Nazis and rescue dissidents, Jews and other refugees during World War II. The film is co-produced and directed by Artemis Joukowsky III, grandson of the Sharps.

The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have created a guide to help local Unitarian Universalist leaders and congregations around the nation organize interfaith events to coincide with the film’s release and to build solidarity, education and action in the face of today’s religious discrimination, Islamophobia and international refugee crises.

The action guide can be used by Unitarian Universalist congregations and other religious and civil organizations, including college campus groups to help inspire and guide people of faith and conscience to carry on the Sharps’ legacy to defy hatred, bigotry and fear.  Among the events suggested are:

  • Hold a solidarity event with Muslim neighbors;
  • Host a guest speaker fundraiser to support groups that protect the civil rights of Muslim Americans; promote interfaith solidarity; assist Muslim refugees and immigrants in building new lives in the United States; or provide humanitarian relief to refugees abroad;
  • Organize a Defying the Nazis watch party or book group using the companion book by Beacon Press; or
  • Sponsor refugees.

The guide includes detailed steps and suggestions on how to do each.

“Unitarian Universalists across the country are embracing and honoring the story of the Sharps,” said Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). “The goal of this guide is to expand upon the Sharps’ brave legacy by continuing to fight against bigotry and discrimination plaguing our world today.”

Ken Burns added, “The Sharps story is one of courage and love and what it means to embrace others in a time of tremendous need. There’s a lesson here for all who believe that we have a responsibility to one another, recognizing that what we have in common should inspire us to embrace our neighbors, whether down the street or across the globe. We applaud the Unitarian Universalists for their ongoing work to assist those in need and encourage people of all faiths and beliefs to share this story and hopefully find within a reason to act today.”

To find the toolkit online, visit:

For more information about the film and to watch the trailer, visit:

For more information contact

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