I came to Birmingham and Selma last March to commemorate the events of March 1965, and to be reminded of why it is that racial justice is so crucial. I came home rededicated and recommitted to doing whatever I can to help move us forward as a country to realizing that Black Lives Matter, and that there is much work still left to be done to bring about the equality we UUs believe in so completely.
I’d already been to Birmingham and Selma — in 2013, I joined the UU Living Legacy Pilgrimage to learn about our UU involvement in the Civil Rights movement in the south. It was a transformational experience, with us learning from veterans of the Civil Rights movement — those who had been arrested, those who transported others during the bus boycott, those White clergy who served in African American congregations, children of the martyrs, and more. It helped me understand more deeply the cost of hard won freedom.
The conference of commemoration and recommitment in March was more than I had imagined. We heard from Rev. C.T. Vivian, one of the leaders in Selma 50 years ago; Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP; Opal Tometi, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter movement. We had a keynote from Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed, who helped us understand what is needed going forward.
In the midst of all the incredible workshops, worship and presentation, there were two parts of the conference that stood out: honoring the families of the Selma martyrs, and marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.