Racial injustice & economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.
—Martin Luther King
The first time I have marched in a demonstration of any kind was yesterday, July 25, 2015. It was the Million Person March, for Black Lives Matter. I was there representing the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, along with a host of other New Jersey UUs.
It made an impact on me. Marching through an all-black neighborhood of Newark, with people from Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, I heard chants and rallying cries for justice and equal treatment, for remonstrance of loved ones lost, and for a national revival of action around the civil rights issue of how we systemically treat people of color.
There is a debate (so I’ve heard) among UU’s whether the chant ought to be “All Lives Matter.” That point was directly addressed by Dr. Cornell West standing in front of the Essex County courthouse: he reminded us that it is black lives which are being taken, black lives that are on the line.
For me, and I imagine, most UUs, all lives do matter. Precisely because we believe this, we can and should wholeheartedly pronounce that Black Lives Matter. We can do so without fear that someone is being left out, or that our core value of justice for all is somehow being undermined, or that we are not being fair to others who have also lost their lives. Saying “Black Lives Matter” is merely a way to recognize a special case: a history of violent repression and aggressive policing of African Americans that unfortunately continues right up to the present moment.
It was a privelege for me to be a participant. To me, going out into communities and being a part of things is real ministry. I was glad to be able to walk side by side with those whose passions ran strong but who were willing to be peaceful, to endure a hot summer day, to take their children out and have them participate as well.
I hope this effort plants a seed, that can grow and be a large resting place and source of comfort for all those families who spoke to us about their loved ones lost.
We need to come to terms with the reality of the racial injustice so grossly present in our land.