Racial profiling, criminalization, disenfranchisement, and mass incarceration of African Americans and other people of color constitute today’s legal system for institutionalized racism, discrimination, and exclusion in the United States.
Dr. Michelle Alexander, civil rights advocate, litigator, scholar and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness exposes today’s racial caste system and how to resist it. Dr. Alexander spoke to an audience of over 600 people at Justice General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix and challenged Unitarian Universalists to learn more, witness, and act to stop the oppression of people of color perpetuated through the criminal legal system in our communities and across the country.
As Unitarian Universalists, we have the religious grounding, the resources, and the opportunity to make a difference in partnership with those who are most affected by institutionalized racism and “the new Jim Crow.”
The UUA is working with the Faith in Action Criminal Justice Reform Working Group to get the Smarter Sentencing Bill passed. The legislation would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, reduce excessive sentences for low-level drug offenses and authorize judicial review of cases sentenced under the old 100 to 1 crack cocaine sentencing disparity for possible resentencing. Read the letter here and stay tuned for call-in days, petitions, and other actions. Join UUs Resisting New Jim Crow & Mass Incarceration for updates.
On August 25, 2013, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Hardies, Senior Minister of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC, delivered a sermon that built on the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to call for us to again respond to the fierce urgency of now.
“We, too, have endured a summer of racial discontent in our nation. A summer that began with the Supreme Court of the United States eviscerating the Voting Rights Act. A summer that came to a boil with a Florida jury acquitting George Zimmerman of the murder of Trayvon Martin. ... And a summer that ended—finally and shamefully—with the United States Congress adjourning once again without passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
Reach out to people and organizations who are leading the movement to end mass incarceration and other UUs. Read how UU congregations are doing this:
Invite your congregation and members of your community to read Dr. Alexander's book together. Use the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Study Guide for your conversations.
The New Jim Crowwas selected as the 2012-2013 Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Common Read! A Common Read invites Unitarian Universalists to read and discuss the same book in their congregations and communities. The UUA New Jim Crow discussion guide (PDF, 19 pages) is available to help UU groups reflect on the book and consider together what steps they are called to take, as people of faith, in response to Alexander’s call for awareness and action.
2012 General Assembly Workshop full video: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and Institutional Racism led by Michelle Alexander
In the 2013 General Assembly Workshop “Building the Movement to End The New Jim Crow,” UU leaders Rev. Eric Meter, Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Paula Cole Jones, and Susan Leslie shared strategies and practices for engaging congregations and communities in a new movement of liberation and transformation.
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Last updated on Friday, April 11, 2014.
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"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration and Institutional Racism," event 213 at General Assembly 2012. (Combination of video and still images, with full audio of the workshop.)
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UUA Letter of Support to Pass the Smarter Sentencing Act, S. 1410
'We Must Awaken Our Country', message by Michelle Alexander
2012 UUA Common Read: The New Jim Crow
GA2012 Workshop Video: The New Jim Crow featuring Dr. Michelle Alexander
Audio, Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 'The New Jim Crow', Sermon delivered on Sunday, March 25, 2012
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