Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Activity 2: Story - Frances Harper Bends the Arc

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story until you are comfortable presenting it.
  • Optional: Make copies of the story for youth to share and read along.
  • Optional: If you do not have a computer with Internet access available, print out information from the Unitarian Universalist Association's Social Justice website to share with the group.

Description of Activity

Youth hear and discuss a story about a woman attracted to our faith because of Unitarianism's reputation for social justice work. Print out Leader Resource 1, Frances Harper Photo, and show the photo to the group.

Ask youth, "Why are we discussing social justice at church?" Take responses. If no one ties justice work into the first Principle, do so yourself. Refer to Maslow's hierarchy and remind participants that a starting point for justice work is making sure people have equal access to the resources needed to satisfy their basic needs. We believe that enabling everyone to have equal access upholds the inherent worth and dignity of all people and that we support this principle not just in talk but also in action. Ask if the group agrees that working toward a just society is one way we put our UU faith in action. Tell participants you have a story to share about UUs putting their faith in action.

Tell or read the story. Here are questions to spark a discussion after the story:

  • The story suggests that Harper was attracted to the Unitarian church because of its stance on justice issues that concerned her. Do you think this is a strong reason to join a church? Do you think there are people in UU congregations today for the same reason? How does that make you feel about your religion?
  • Why do you think Harper kept her membership at the AME church? Do you know any members of your congregation who have memberships at other congregations, churches, or temples?
  • Have you belonged to or attended a church besides a UU congregation? What justice activities did that congregation offer?
  • What were some of the justice issues in Harper's day? Are those still issues today? Are there related justice issues today?
  • What are some of the justice issues UUs are involved in today? (If youth do not know and your room has Internet access, let the group view the Unitarian Universalist's Social Justice website for answers. If this is not feasible, share the pages from the website you printed out from Preparation for Activity.)

Say, in your own words:

This commitment to help bring about justice in the world is our UU heritage and value. Harper met Unitarians while working for justice. She joined with them to increase the call for equality for African Americans and women and the call was stronger because of it. Through the centuries, UUs have joined with like-minded people in the call for justice. The same is true today and, I hope, will be true tomorrow. Tomorrow depends upon you. I hope that you, our present and future justice makers, will heed the call.