BLUU Bulletin Board
Welcome to the online UUCE Bulletin Board for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. Each month you will see new content that will inform and inspire, providing resources for those seeking to grow and deepen their faith by learning about and holding up the Black UU experience.
From July 24 – 26, 2015, The Movement for Black Lives Convening was held in Cleveland, Ohio. This historic gathering brought together more than 1500 Black people from across the country to build, heal, learn, and organize. A small caucus of Black Unitarian Universalists met that weekend to discuss the various issues they faced in our shared faith.
As a result of that meeting, the Black Lives Unitarian Universalist Organizing Collective formed and over time has developed the following goals:
- Expanding the power & capacity of Black UUs within our faith
- Providing support, information & resources for Black Unitarian Universalists.
- Justice-making and liberation through our faith
Our Unitarian Universalist faith CALLS US to say that Black Lives Matter. Seeing a direct link between the 7 UU principles espoused by the UUA and the Movement for Black Lives, those in attendance at the Movement for Black Lives Convening in 2015, along with other Black UUs, created the 7 Principles of Black Lives. All seven principles are described in detail via the link above. This bulletin will feature one each month. This month, March, features Principle #2.
Principle #2 Love and Self-Love is Practiced in Every Element of All We Do
Love and Self-Love must be drivers of all our work and indicators of our success. Without this principle and without healing, we will harm each other and undermine our movement. The Movement for Black Lives seeks to build a society where Black people thrive instead of survive. We seek justice for those we have lost to police violence, we seek equity in housing, education and healthcare, we seek compassion from our fellow UUs for the struggle we are called to be a part of.
GET CONNECTED WITH OTHER UU BIPOC
BLUU Beloved: is an opportunity for Unitarians who are Black/People of African descent to further connect, build community and develop leadership within the work of BLUU and our connection to broader liberation movements.
Finding Our Way Home: is an annual retreat for UU religious professionals of Color. It offers community building, spiritual reflection, and collegial support while connecting participants with local community organizations as partners in service, witness, and advocacy.
Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM): a UU People of Color Ministry and anti-racist collective bringing lay and religious professionals together to overcome racism through resistance and transform Unitarian Universalism through our multicultural experiences.
Side with Love: Side with Love is a public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression. It is sponsored by the UUA and all are welcome to join.
WAYS TO SUPPORT
Donate to BLUU by clicking the highlighted text or by mailing a check payable to: BLUU,165 Western Ave N, Suite 8, St Paul, MN 55102
Patreon: White supporters, Indigenous and other people of color are encouraged to show support by signing up for Patreon.
For Such a Time As This
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911) “We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.”
A celebrated writer, political activist, and lecturer, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper is remembered for her legacy in the causes of “enslavement and abolitionism, human rights and dignity, women’s rights and equality, racial and social justice, lynching and mob violence, voting rights, moral character, racial self-help and uplift, and multiracial cooperation.” She was aware of the impact of intersectionality far before it was a commonly used term.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland to free black parents and orphaned by age 3, Harper’s aunt and uncle, Henrietta and William Watkins, raised her. Her uncle was an outspoken abolitionist, practiced self-taught medicine, organized a black literary society and established his own school in 1820, Watkins Academy for Negro Youth, offering a “classical education”. Harper attended and was able to take courses in Latin, Greek, and the Bible.
At age 13 Harper took a job as a nursemaid and seamstress for a white Quaker family that owned a bookshop. She was encouraged by her employers to pursue her interest in writing. Over the years her poems were published in local newspapers. At age 20 her first collection of works, Autumn Leaves, was published.
When she was twenty-six years old, now living on her own, Harper became the first woman instructor at Union Seminary, a school for free African Americans in Wilberforce, Ohio. Shortly after she began working as a teacher, her home state of Maryland passed a law stating that free African Americans living in the North were no longer allowed to enter the state of Maryland. If found, they would be imprisoned and sold into slavery.
Harper was now unable to return to her own home. She decided to devote all of her efforts to the antislavery cause. She worked alongside William Still, the Father of the Pennsylvania Underground Railroad, helping escaped formerly enslaved people move into Canada. She began writing poetry for antislavery newspapers. Her poem “Eliza Harris,” was published in The Liberator, and in Frederick Douglass’ Paper. By the time Harper left Philadelphia in 1854, she had compiled her second small volume of poetry called Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects with an introduction by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. This became a commercial success, her earnings going primarily to free enslaved people.
Francis traveled United States and Canada as a lecturer speaking about racism, women’s oppression, and anti-slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. She began to publish novels, short stories, and poetry focused on issues of racism, feminism and classism. In 1859, Harper published a short story in the Anglo-African Magazine called “The Two Offers”, from which the quote above is taken. This story about women’s education was the first short story published by an African American woman.
At age 35 Frances married Fenton Harper, a widower with 3 children, and they had a daughter. After Fenton’s untimely death four years later, Francis continued speaking across the U.S. South, encouraging education for the formerly enslaved, supporting reconstruction and speaking out for suffrage for all women, black and white. In 1870, she moved to Philadelphia and joined the First Unitarian Church. She continued her advocacy on behalf of women’s empowerment and in support of the 14th and 15th amendments, writing in magazines intended for both black and white popular audiences.
Materials for this online bulletin board come from the UUCE subscription to the BLUU Box. The BLUU Operating Collective is committed to providing resources and community for those seeking to grow and deepen their faith. Grounded and informed by Black experiences, these materials are especially for those looking to live out the mandate of justice-making and liberation through our shared faith.