Youth Speech from UUC Black Lives Matter Vigil
On Sunday, May 23, 2021, UUC youth in middle school and high school were invited to co-facilitate a Black Lives Matter vigil at University Unitarian Church. For this vigil, UUC youth Owen Dombrowski wrote and delivered this speech about why Unitarian Universalists are called to struggle for racial justice.
Unitarian Universalism is often called a faith. And, in a sense, it is. But Unitarian Universalism isn’t creedal. We don’t believe in absolute doctrine or dogma, nor one way to truth. We have a covenantal faith, a house without walls or boundaries, centered on community for the free and responsible search for truth. We are united by our shared search for spiritual meaning, guided by what UUs call the “living tradition”.
Our faith is not a hobby or pastime. It is living and dynamic, just like the living tradition. The idea of the community for free search informs us that our beliefs must inspire what some have termed “deeds, not creeds”.
To affirm our communities and our belief in the full self, unitarians put their faith into action. The struggle for justice is entwined with our values. The history of Unitarian Universalism is one of struggling for justice, from the liberal reformers to the abolitionists, up to the civil rights and women’s rights movements, and finally to today’s struggle for black lives and the lives of indigenous people, whose rights are ignored, whose communities are gentrified, whose culture is denounced, and whose people are slain in the streets of our country.
The struggle for justice today will take more than just accepting our own faith and simply believing in Unitarian values and principles. In 1965, three Unitarian Universalists reverends participating in the Selma marches for African-American voting rights were attacked, and one, the Reverend James Reeb, was murdered. Today at this Vigil and march, it is important to remember the words of Reverend Reeb’s daughter after his death. Anne Reeb said that her father was adamant that “you could not make a difference for African-Americans while living comfortable in a white community.”
The struggle for justice is hard, and a long road to travel. It will take much action, and it will not be easy to make a change in a country where people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and women are systematically discriminated against. However, the struggle for black lives is one worth engaging in, for the future of all people and all communities. Unitarian Universalism has long had a legacy of fighting for justice. I hope that legacy can continue, and that our faith may keep pushing us towards justice.Owen Dombrowski, UUC Youth