BLM Banner Proudly Waves at UUCLV
A new banner has been hoisted at the Unitarian Universalist Church of The Lehigh Valley at 424 Center St. “Today we are dedicating this ‘Black Lives Matter’ flag as a symbol of our commitment to learning and educating ourselves about the Black Lives Matter movement,” declared Nancy Weston at the Oct. 11 outdoor ceremony, attended by nearly 40 people.
The event was emceed by Weston, co-chair of the UUCLV Social Action Committee, on the church steps. She explained how the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis, Minnesota policeman “appalled” members of the UUCLV. This reported killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer prompted the church’s Social Action Committee to speak out against racial injustice.
Committee co-chair Karen Hicks, guest speakers, plus several black and white members of the congregation, took turns affirming support for the African-American community during the ceremony.
“We bless it with our words. We bless it with our actions,” said UUCLV Rev. Madelyn Campbell as she dedicated the new flag.
The Rev. Elizabeth Hoffman Reed encouraged the audience to “Accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and in our institutions.” Hoffman is one of several members of the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress, a national advocacy group, at the dedication.
“Let this moment not fade,” said Sharon A. Brown from the Resurrected Life Church in Allentown. She added, “Let this moment be the beginning of a revolutionary act where all who are gathered, stay the course!”
Vassar graduate Renee Bryant described her experiences dealing with racism while growing up as a black child and later as a college student. She recently joined the church’s Social Action Committee.
UUCLV member Shamell Brandon provided his African-American perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement with a series of questions like, “Am I willing to donate my certainty in exchange for learning.”
“Together we commit! Together we act!” chanted the crowd as Beth Taylor led them in a call-and-response oath for “creating a future marked by justice.”
In addition to the flag dedication, Bethlehem-based fiber artist Barbara Schulman unveiled her creative tribute to the BLM cause. She began working on “The Black Plague” (2020, bleached jeans and dyed cotton, painted, quilted, machine stitched, 60 inches by 66 inches) the day after Floyd’s on-camera killing.
Painted throughout the somber quilt are nearly 300 names of black and brown citizens who had lost their lives in confrontations with law enforcement. Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and Tamir Rice are just a few of the more well-known victims.
Gray Simpson, a youth in the church choir, led those gathered in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson. The hymn is also known as the “Black national anthem.”