What is the Black Lives of UU Organizing Collective
Formed in the wake of several conversations among Black UUs at the July 2015 Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, OH - the BLUU Organizing Collective works to provide support, information & resources for Black Unitarian Universalists. We also work to expand the role & visibility of Black UUs within our faith.
MEET THE TEAM
Lena K Gardner is one of the co-founders and leaders of the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis chapter, she works for the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship and is a part of the founding leaders of the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalist Organizing Collective (BLUU). She worships and is a member at First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, lives in Northeast Minneapolis with her cat Merlin and loves the Boundary Waters. She graduated in 2015 with her master of arts in Justice and Peace studies. Lena serves as the Executive Director of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism.
Dr. Takiyah Nur Amin is a native of Buffalo, NY and the daughter of Karima and the late Abdul Jalil Amin.
She is an alumna of the UUA's Multicultural Leadership School for Youth and Young Adults of Color (known today as THRIVE) and a former RE Assistant.
An intellectual by training and tradition, Takiyah earned a PhD in Dance and Cultural Studies (with certificates in Women's Studies and Teaching in Higher Education) from Temple University in 2011. She is an active member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, an advocacy organization on behalf of Black women and girls. A lover of reading, podcasts, shopping and travel, Takiyah is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance Studies.
Kenny Wiley, a lifelong Unitarian Universalist from Houston, Texas, lives in Denver, Colorado, where he works as the Director of Faith Formation at Prairie UU Church. He works for UU World magazine as a senior editor, and is part of the Black Lives Matter 5280 core organizing team.
He also loves to play ultimate frisbee, root for his beloved Missouri Tigers women's basketball and football teams, and enjoys losing games of Uno, Bingo, and Connect Four.
CDR Royce W. James, Ph.D. served with AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) as a Team Leader then graduated from USCG Boot Camp in 1996. Royce attended New Mexico State University and served with the Regional Alliance for Science, Engineering, & Mathematics for persons with Disabilities through AAAS before graduating in 1999. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 2000. He earned a Master’s of Science Degree from Columbia University, and began teaching at the academy in 2004. Royce completed his Doctorate in Plasma Physics through Columbia’s Plasma Physics Lab at Steven’s Institute of Technology in December 2008.
Now a member of the Academy's permanent command teaching staff, Royce is the current Chair of Physics. He is the founder and Principle Investigator of the Coast Guard Academy Plasma Lab (CGAPL), Department Equity Officer, Co-founder/Director for CGA’s Science Partnership for Innovation in Learning (Project SPIL), Genesis & Spectrum Council Advisor (CGA’s Black and Gay Student Unions) and the Science Department Diversity & Inclusion Officer. He was a member of the team that was instrumental in the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and more recently worked to facilitate the military's change in policy to allow transgendered persons to openly serve.
Royce is co-founder of the former New London Freedom School, active with the youth of All Souls UU Congregation, member of the #Blacklivesmatter South Eastern CT, member of the Science Technology and Mathematics Magnet School Advisory Board, and Member of the Nuclear Energy Advisory Council for the state of CT. Dr. James lives in New London, CT with his wife Jessica (a Graduate Student of Divinity at Andover Newton Theological School) and their four children: Isis, Yemaya, Olorun and Sati.
Leslie Mac is a Brooklyn born & raised activist and a first generation American of Jamaican ancestry. She created the Ferguson Response tumblr to connect nationwide efforts supporting the important racial justice movement started in Ferguson, MO. She has since expanded the Ferguson Response Network to provide resources & support for Black organizers nationwide. She recently co-created & serves as Creative Director of Safety Pin Box.
Recent projects include the 2015 MLK DARE March in Philadelphia, Movement for Black Lives Convening, Women’s Freedom Conference, #StepUpScholastic & #MLKSitIn. She attended Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism and currently lives in Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieMac
Rev. Mykal O'Neal Slack is a speaker, trainer, worship leader, community minister and congregational life coordinator in Unitarian Universalist, Metropolitan Community Churches, and interfaith settings. He has a ministry and calling to nurture spaces where people can connect in ways that heal, not harm, talk about and re-imagine church life that truly honors our differences, and make sustainable changes that are an outgrowth of spiritual practice, deep listening, and active engagement in community.
Mykal recently became the first Co-Director of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, a Southern-based, national organization working at the intersections of race, sexual orientation, gender and faith to effect culture shift in workplaces, communities of faith and schools. He has served as the founder and director of 4LYFE, an ecumenical, consulting ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches that develops anti-racist and anti-oppressive frameworks for church life and provides pastoral and educational resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in spiritual communities of all kinds. He also served the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh as their first Director of Congregational Life, where his focus was on newcomer welcome, membership, community-building and communications. For his commitment to multicultural culture-building in communities of faith, Mykal was selected as both a Beatitudes Society Fellow and a Movement Fellow for the Southeast House of Soulforce for 2015-2016.
Mykal received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Emory University in Atlanta and a law degree from the City University of New York School of Law. After law practice that included a federal clerkship, insurance defense and LGBT civil rights litigation, Mykal discerned a call to ministry and went on to receive a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.
Mykal currently sits on the Content Development Working Group of the Center for African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice and serves as Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors for the LGBTQ Center of Durham.
PAST ORGANIZING COLLECTIVE MEMBERS
Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith