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What is Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter is a US-based international movement co-founded by three black women: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometti. The #BlackLivesMatter movement began as a hashtag for Twitter after George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013. It gained momentum after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, the death of Eric Garner and subsequent events that continue to this day.

But don’t “All Lives Matter?”

Yes, our UU principles call us to recognize “the inherent worth & dignity of every person” (Principle 1), to promote “justice, equity and compassion in human relations” (Principle 2), and to work for “the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all” (Principle 6). At this time in history, a spotlight is being projected on serious issues of systemic injustice toward black people specifically. Our principles call us to support this cause, without negating the value of other causes.

Has the Unitarian Universalist Association taken a stand regarding this movement?

The 2015 UU General Assembly (GA) called upon member congregations to support the Black Lives Matter Movement as an Action of Immediate Witness and urged us to take action on several fronts. Click here to read the entire resolution


What are we doing at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines to support Black Lives Matter?

Our church has been working for the past 4 years to address Iowa’s disproportionate rate of the incarceration of African Americans. Here’s how you can get involved. Contact information can be found in the church directory.

  • AMOS Criminal Justice Team—AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) is a non-profit community organization in central Iowa made up of 29 diverse member institutions- churches, synagogues and advocacy organizations that represent thousands of residents of metropolitan Des Moines and Ames. The Criminal Justice Issue Team is working to end the school to prison pipeline in Des Moines and the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans in Des Moines. Members of First Unitarian help co-lead this team while working with others to create systemic change in our schools and police department. This team has generated the following two mediation programs to end the school to prison pipeline. Contact: Bob Glass. Click here for more information.
  • Let’s Talk Mediation (AMOS) —This program was created to support youth in finding their own solutions to conflict. This helps them avoid out-of-school suspensions or the need to engage the School Resource Officer, both of which fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. Contact: Ellen Taylor to attend a training or learn more. Requires availability during school hours.
  • Second Chance Mediation (AMOS) —Recognizing the success of Let’s Talk Mediation, Police Chief Wingert asked AMOS to offer similar services to youth engaged with the police outside of school hours for minor offenses. With successful conclusion of this program, youths’ records are deleted. Contact: Ellen Taylor to attend a training or learn more. Requires availability after school hours.
  • Legislation to Ban Racial Profiling —AMOS launched a racial profiling project with the Des Moines Chapter of the NAACP to document cases of racial profiling as they occur in central Iowa. Contact: Harvey Harrison.
  • First Unitarian Restorative Justice Group—This group works within the congregation to advance AMOS’ goals of ending the school to prison pipeline by integrating restorative justice practices into our schools and police departments. In order to do this, we are first learning about restorative justice ourselves and integrating these practice into our congregation. Contact: Karen Lauer.
  • Education—Please check our church calendar for up to date listings for our anti-racism book groups, films, training and classes. First Unitarian Calendar



ABOUT #BLM

“#BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17-year old Trayvon was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder. Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.” – Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter Herstory

Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles

SERMONS ABOUT BLM

Letting Go to be True (20:50 mark in video) – October 4, 2015

Dignity, Grace and the Moral Arc – August 23, 2015

Black Lives Matter – August 9, 2015

Meditation and Readings on Black Lives Matter (PDF) – August 9, 2015

Witness to Baltimore – May 3, 2015

Is Social Change Possible? – January 18, 2015

Wrestling with Race & Fear – December 7, 2014

No Indictment? – November 30, 2014

ADDITIONAL UU RESOURCES