Melissa Harris-Lacewell: Faith and Reason: Race, Justice, and American Political Life

Unitarian Universalist (UU) Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University, was the 2009 Ware Lecturer at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly. Harris-Lacewell, who is currently studying at Union Theological Seminary, called her audience to pause in a moment of American racial transformation and ask how faith and reason can guide our politics toward more just ends. She issued a challenge: “The best justice work we do comes about when we commit ourselves fully to a cause we’re likely to lose.”

In her address, Harris-Lacewell also called her audience to action. "It’s easy to write off faith talk as inherently divisive—but if we do that, we cede faith, and lose the use of it as a tool for the struggle for self, community, and justice," she said. "Faith is an exercise in intellectual humility, a habit that makes us recognize our own limitations, helps us come to terms with what we don’t know and can't do.

"We come here together today to make the most incredible faith claim of all: that we can establish a world that recognizes the inherent dignity of every single human being—and that we can make that world using the power of love.”