For those who were able to make it to General Assembly this year, the energy was different this time around. Something is changing in our denomination -- and BLUU has been a part of creating that change. You have been a part of creating that change. If you’re receiving this email, it’s because you’re a Black UU yourself or a supporter. Without y’all, BLUU would be just a group of folks getting together, arguing, laughing and supporting each other -- which wouldn’t be the worst. But with you, we are building and dreaming something into being that is already changing lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting BLUU, for being a Black UU if you are and sticking it out in a denomination that makes it all too easy to leave.
Last week I had the privilege speaking during plenary and more than once the collective and the work that BLUU has done (and is doing) received standing ovations from a crowd of thousands. Thousands. And that doesn’t include the thousands of others who were with us in spirit, watching the live streaming or just cheering from afar as they tended to work, children, and other responsibilities. This GA was so very different from the feeling of General Assembly even just a year ago.
And yet it is so clear that we still have so much work toward justice to do because even as I write this to you, I am working as part of a team of UU leaders who are advocating for the human rights of the four young Black men who allegedly burglarized UUA staff members Tim Byrne and James Curran. The incident was caught on tape. The BLUU team sends our love and wishes for healing to Tim and James and to their families as they recover from what was a violent encounter. We encourage folks to support them by giving to the UUA Staff Assistance fund here.
And we are called in this moment, along with other UU leaders to encourage a process of restorative justice. We know that the four young men, Dejuan, Joshua, Nicholas, and Rashaad, are young, Black men and face a criminal justice system that does NOT recognize their worth or dignity. In communication and agreement with the James and family of Tim and other UU leaders, we have begun to advocate for a restorative justice process in New Orleans. So the work continues. This wasn’t the note we hoped to end General Assembly on, but if we are to live out our principle that all Black Lives Matter then it is the work we are called to do in this moment.
WELCOME DIDI DELGADO TO THE BLUU TEAM
In the service of that work, we are also very proud to announce the first Black Lives of UU Collaborative Organizer, Didi Delgado, who officially begins work with us on July 13, 2017. Many of you may recognize her from the BLUU Convening in March. We are thrilled to have her on staff. She will be helping build out and support the work of our BLUUMicro30 teams and continuing to deepen our connection with the Black Lives Matter Network and the Movement for Black Lives. Welcome to the BLUU team Didi!
As part of Didi’s work, BLUUMicro30 launched its next step at the convening. The next step is: an in-person local meet up with other Black UUs. You can read about the creation of the #BLUUMicro30 groups and what the projects are on our website. And please look for more details about support for the upcoming meet ups - some are big and some are small, but we are excited to keep building. If you aren’t a on a BLUUMicro30 team yet and are a Black UU, please click here join us!
INTRODUCING 360 COUNCIL
Other big announcements from GA include the establishment of our BLUU 360 Elders Council. We are honored to have Paula Cole Jones, Rev. Susan Newman Moore, Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika and Rev. Mel Hoover serving on that council. You can watch the address in plenary from Rev. Mel and Miss Paula, Baba’s stirring plenary speech as well as the Organizing Collective receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award on the BLUU website here.
Dr. Michael Dumas and Dr. Takiyah Amin right after their Introduction to Anti Blackness workshop, you can see the recap here!
They also head a discussion in the BLUU Healing Space on Black Fugitivity, Joy and Futures. It was a lively discussion and in depth conversation with audience participation.
BLUU PARTICIPATES IN UUA GA 2017 MURAL PROJECT
Natalie Jeffers with Lena K. Gardner and Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika, completing the BLUU portion of the mural, with inspiration from Dr. King’s 1967 Ware Lecture, entitled Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution.
The three purple figurines represent BLUU in the mural and continuation of BAC and BUUC from which you can see with raised fists behind those figurines in the mural.
Last but certainly not least, at General Assembly 2017 we announced Rev. Mykal Slack as our BLUU Community Minister of Worship and Spiritual Care.
We are beyond grateful for his service and ministry and blessed to have him on this team.
It’s the Friday after General Assembly and I’m heading back down to New Orleans to support local organizers in our efforts to live more deeply into our faith values as Black UUs, a few of us from the OC, myself included will be taking some time off in the coming weeks but rest assured we’ll be back into the full swing of things by late July and early August! Love to you all!
Lena K. Gardner
Executive Director, BLUU Organizing Collective