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

The Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) grew out of the broader Movement for Black Lives in the summer of 2015. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) supports the mission of BLUU with The Promise and the Practice of Our Faith Campaign, to “take the lead as a faith denomination in addressing our history of upholding white supremacy… [to] collectively work to dismantle it and amend a long broken promise to the Black Lives within our Association.”
As part of fulfilling this mission, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines:

  • Held a “Promise and Practice” service on February 4, 2018,
  • Raised $2382 through the offerings on February 4 and Christmas Eve services
  • Pledges to the long-term commitment of dismantling white supremacy, racism and oppression from within our denomination and beyond, and uplifting the Black Lives, Voices, and Leadership of Unitarian Universalism.

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

Members of our church have been working with AMOS for the past 6 years to address Iowa’s disproportionate rate of the incarceration of African Americans. To learn more about how you can get involved, we have included a member contact for each group. 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.
  • 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.

Anti-Racist Collaborative of Des Moines (ARC)

The Anti-Racist Collaborative of Des Moines is the relational hub of White Anti-Racist work. Our purpose is to move ourselves and others along a spectrum toward a radical white identity. We do this by providing space for authentic reflection on the impact of white supremacy on our lives and communities and to transform whiteness through healing and anti-racist action. Previous opportunities we’ve provided are film screenings and a monthly speaker series.