Throughout Black History Month, Unitarian Universalist churches in Concord, Stow, and Sudbury will participate in Say Their Names, a collaboration among the three congregations, led by the Maynard Anti-Racism Alliance (MARA).
Each week during worship, we will honor and acknowledge lynching victims who were targets of racial terrorism by sharing names and stories of some of the more than 4,500 known victims. In doing so, we bear witness to our inter-connectedness with all that is part of the world.
Lynching terrorized black people and continued slavery’s violent methods of oppression. The vast majority of lynchings occurred in the South, from 1877 through 1950, but lynching of Black people occurred in almost every state, and also targeted Asians, Mexicans, First Nation Peoples, and other minorities. Later, state and county vagrancy laws sanctioned forced labor practices through convict leasing programs that often worked black convicts to death, a practice that continued throughout the Jim Crow era.
While UU churches and MARA will say the names and stories of many lynching victims this month, we won’t come close to naming the thousands of known, or the thousands more of unknown, people of color whose lives were robbed through lynching. And, in the case of enslaved victims, we acknowledge that their very names marked them as their master’s property.
These are stories of atrocities and they may make us deeply uncomfortable. However, we believe that remembrance is a necessary first step towards reconciliation. We share the stories during worship service because we believe that faith communities are places where transformation can occur. May we listen to these stories together and, together, transform our discomfort into work for justice.
The names will be read during Milestones each week in February, and the children will already have left for Religious Exploration before that time in our services.
We invite you to engage in conversations about racial justice. Each week during February, members of the Racial Justice Group will be available in the Parish Hall during coffee hour. A Pastoral Associate will be in the library for support and conversation during coffee hour. Beginning in March, we will present a three-part program, Exploring Justice (flyer attached-click here).
The Racial Justice Group is grateful to Rev. Debra Morris-Bennett, Fran Sharp, Worship Associates, Pastoral Associates, and the February worship leaders for their help in planning the Say Their Names observance.
First Parish of Sudbury Say Their Names Planning Group:
Sherene A, Peg E, Bridget H, Jan H, Sara H, Carolyn L, Sheila M.