The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
I am so honored to serve as the new Campaign Manager of Standing on the Side of Love! Here – with all of you – is an incredible place to be.
This tremendous movement speaks directly to my personal mission.
I made this brief video so you could get to know me. Together, I know we will offer a voice in this world that speaks to the highest of our ideals…
With great excitement for all that is possible,
Standing on the Side of Love
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
On Sunday, as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly was coming to a close, a woman approached me and said:
“What you’ve done with this campaign has made a huge difference in people’s lives. I’ve learned that when you do something big it is really hard to think small again. So keep thinking big!”
As I prepare to step down from my position as Campaign Manager on Friday, those are the same words I have for you. You did something enormous this year. Please keep thinking big.
There are three things I’m offering you before I head off to Law School at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
First, a download of my brain. We have created a 1GB flash drive preloaded with all the things you need to stand on the side of love in your community. It has movies, music, a powerpoint presentation, media and organizing resources, four versions of our logo, and more. This is the single best resource we have ever created and you can order one right now for $20.
Second, an awesome new Campaign Manager. Dan Furmansky comes to us after transforming the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights movement in Maryland as Executive Director of Equality Maryland. You’ll be hearing from him soon and I’m very excited for his leadership.
Third, my deepest gratitude. Leading this campaign has been the biggest privilege of my life. Every single day, I was given the opportunity to witness love’s power changing the world. I do not have the words to express how beautiful this has been, but I’ve teared up three times trying to find them.
I am sure our paths will cross again, for you will always find me standing on the side of love.
Susan Karlson is minister at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island.
The Unitarian Church of Staten Island that I serve has focused many of its Standing on the Side of Love services on immigration this year—inviting speakers from the Liberian and Sri Lankan communities, and from organizations like El Centro del Inmigrante and Make the Road New York. A central charge of the Staten Island Clergy Leadership group has been to address the alarming rise in anti-immigrant violence fueled by ignorance and fear. So when I learned of the act of civil disobedience planned to encourage the Obama administration to finally make comprehensive reform of immigration policy a top priority I committed myself to a personal act in support of my beliefs.
As 56 of us linked arms and walked into the street to block traffic in front of the Federal Plaza where many immigrants and their families face deportation every day we sang We Shall Overcome. There were taunts from others who opposed our action, but I felt the strong cloud of witnesses to justice in whose line we stood. For me, it was a reaffirmation of my commitment to be a white ally and my calling to the ministry. Those of us willing to be arrested, including myself and Joe Thomasberger, a lay member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, were treated well by the police and the judicial system. I know that the many immigrants arrested each day know real fear as families are shattered by immigration and naturalization policies and practices that reinforce a system of “us” and “them”. We risked very little on this one day while immigrants risk being deported, losing their jobs and being treated like criminals every day. Arizona SB 1070 and other bills of this sort will only fuel more violence, racism, distrust and fear.
Members of my congregation individually work tirelessly for legal and social services to immigrants in New York City and Staten Island. They are witnesses to the daily tragedy for immigrants in all the boroughs of New York City.
As a result of my act of civil disobedience and the church reaching out to immigrant communities this year, immigration coalitions are hoping that we will act in solidarity with them to make Staten Island a safer, healthier and more just place to live. I believe we can make a difference if together we stand on the side of love and justice.
Participants released the following joint statement concerning the civil disobedience action:
“Being conscientiously of opinion that our current immigration laws betray our core principles of democracy, inclusiveness and justice; that they allow for Arizona’s immoral and unconstitutional SB1070; and that their continued enforcement through detention and deportation separates families and destroys communities; we are compelled to escalate our call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the face of inaction from our nation’s elected representatives.
“Today we stand in solidarity with the millions who contribute to our communities and economy while being denied full access to them. Our act of civil disobedience is performed with the belief that our laws can—and should—be better, and that our nation’s leaders cannot stand on the sidelines as our society’s core values are betrayed by a broken and immoral immigration system.
“We invite the enforcement of the law upon ourselves in the hope that our arrest today will be the catalyst for principled leadership from the President and Congress and for meaningful Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will put an end to the arrests and other mistreatments faced by our friends, families, congregations, and communities.”
—Unity Statement Signed by Those ArrestedMore >
Barbara Brasswell is the Director of Religious Education at the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Prescott, AZ
A perfect storm of racist behavior happened in Prescott, AZ this week. First, a mural being done on the outside of Miller Valley school depicting a Latino, black and white student caused a firestorm when the artists were asked to “lighten” the skin tone of the Latino and black kids. At the same time Steve Blair, city councilman, blasted the mural on his AM radio show, saying that having a Latino and black kid on the mural does not represent our city, and that they must have been put in there just because we have a black president. The Daily Courier, our local paper, ran a front-page story about the mural “lightening” and Blair’s racist comments.
What happened next is amazing! A friend called me to join her to protest the mural lightening, so she wouldn’t be by herself. I called, texted, emailed and Facebooked everyone I knew encouraging them to join us. A friend of a friend has media contacts, and ABC News and the local paper called me for comment. An organic, word-of-mouth protest of over 400 was pulled together in a day and a half! This morning we heard the school superintendent and Miller Valley school principal say they were wrong. They made a mistake and would allow the mural to stay true to the artists’ original plan. The children on the mural will NOT be lightened! Steve Blair was fired from his radio show last night and a petition went around at the protest to recall him from City Council. I’m so proud of the people of Prescott for standing tall and proud and making a statement that we will NOT accept racism in our town! Much thanks for all the support from those near and far!More >
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray is minister at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix.
It brought tears to my eyes as Unitarian Universalist ministers, UUA staff and lay people from all over the country began arriving at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix on Friday night. The next day, May 29th, we would join with tens of thousands of people in a march to demand that SB 1070 be stopped from becoming law and to call on President Obama and the federal government to move on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The May 29th National Day of Action was a kick-off to “Freedom Summer” in Phoenix. Organizers from around the country, in the tradition of the freedom riders, are coming to Phoenix this summer to organize people against SB 1070, to build a movement to push for Comprehensive reform, and to register voters to make real sustained change in Arizona.
500 Unitarian Universalists from congregations in Arizona and around the country came to Phoenix to mark this historic moment. One non-UU at the march, noted that the only religious group to have a presence at the march were the Unitarian Universalists! This was not entirely true, but we came out in such force, such unity, that we were prominent–our gold Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts, posters and banners dotting the crowd of over 50,000 marchers.
A prominent African American pastor in Phoenix, the Rev. Dr. Warren Stewart, Pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church, said two days after SB 1070 was signed by Arizona’s Governor, “Thank you Governor Brewer, for signing SB 1070, and bringing on the Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century!”
The goal of this movement that doubled in strength as soon as the bill was signed, is to stop the bill here before it spreads throughout the country. Second, this fight against SB 1070 needs to created the pressure to force the federal government to get real immigration done–to fix the broken system that is denying students the chance for college and to follow their dreams, and which is breaking up families, and ripping parents away from their children.
Arizona is where we need to battle against fear. This is the moral issue of our day. This is the civil rights movement for today. We are in a moment of tremendous change as a country. We are changing demographically and culturally. The question that we must ask ourselves is will we react to these changes out of fear and scarcity, or will be respond out of the moral call of our faith to love our neighbor as ourself? May 29th was an historic day for Unitarian Universalists, because on that day the UUA President, Peter Morales, the Moderator of the Association, Gini Courter, and the over 50 ministers and over 400 lay people who marched in Phoenix–along with all those who held solidarity rallies around the country–stood up together to say, “We Stand on the Side of Love.”
Now the hard work begins, to work all over the country, and especially in Arizona to stand up against racial profiling, discrimination, and the laws that are encouraging these immoral acts and to organize for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that includes a path to legalization and balances safety and humanitarianism.
I thank everyone who came and rallied and marched and stood up to lead our faith on this issue. Your presence brought strength to our Association and strength to our work in Arizona.More >