Racial Justice / Black Lives Matter

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UU Church West has a long history of taking stands on important issues:

  • In 1965, our first minister, Chris Raible, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama. In 1967, UUCW was host to a public forum during the Open Housing movement with civil rights leader Father James Groppi when all other suburban venues denied him meeting space.
  • In 1971, students in our religious education classes launched a recycling campaign that led to the first-ever recycling center in Brookfield.
  • In 2004, we became a Green Sanctuary congregation where we are supported to live an earth-affirming, sustainable lifestyle as individuals and as a faith community.
  • Also in 2004, by congregational vote, UUCW passed a Statement of Conscience to stand on the side of love by supporting same-sex marriage.
  • In 2006, we became a Welcoming Congregation where people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions can find an affirming spiritual home.
  • In 2010, led by our Social Action Council, UUCW became the Unitarian Universalist Association’s first official Peace Advocacy Congregation.
  • And in January, 2016, the congregation voted yes on supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and affirmed that we begin to show our support publicly. In August, we hung a Black Lives Matter banner on the side of our building.

Black Lives Matter is a national movement working to address systemic racism, including the many ways in which Black people are deprived of basic human rights and left powerless at the hands of the state. Milwaukee is cited in many media surveys as one of the worst places in the country for African-Americans to reside due in part to the high student achievement gap between black and white students, the state’s notoriety as having the highest rate of black male incarceration, the fact that four-out-of-five black children in Milwaukee live in poverty, and a very high degree of black/white social segregation. It’s clear that the BLM movement is more than a civil rights issue, it is a human rights issue and speaks to UUs in particular as we espouse the first UU principle of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. 

We’re certainly not alone in making the decision about supporting BLM. At the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly earlier this year, the delegates from congregations nationwide voted to adopt an Action of Immediate Witness in support of BLM which encourages UU congregations to learn about racism and related oppressions, organize to create change, and “take initiative in collaboration with local and national organizations fighting for racial justice against the harsh racist practices to which many black people are exposed.” UU congregations across the country are taking many different public actions, including boldly posting signs and banners on their building or grounds. In the Milwaukee area alone, First Unitarian Society, Lake Country UU Church and United UU in Waukesha have all posted signs or banners. Here at UUCW, we have made Black Lives Matter buttons available, and Rev. Suzelle Lynch and a core group of church members and friends have been involved in learning, protests or planning with Milwaukee’s Coalition for Justice, and the local chapter of Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). 

If you use Facebook, we also encourage you to “like” the Black Lives Matter to Wisconsin UUs page. This page is the beginning of a greater Milwaukee-area collaboration of five different UU congregations, and many articles, events, and resources are posted there by Rev. Suzelle Lynch, Ann Heidkamp, our Social Action Council Chair, and others.


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