by Kaye Cook, Co-leader, Racial Justice Steering Committee.

From a young age, I had a strong sense of fairness and equity. Luckily, I was fortunate to work in the field of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) in the federal government for most of my career. When I retired in February 2014, I was looking for a way to stay engaged in racial and social justice issues. As luck would have it, my husband and I attended a service at UUCF the same month I retired. I knew immediately I had found a place where my core values and interests were shared by others and would give me the chance to stay involved in the work of fighting for social justice.

In January 2016, UUCF celebrated the “30 Days of Love Campaign.” The Racial Justice Steering Committee (RJSC) was an outgrowth of that campaign. I immediately volunteered to be on the committee. The committee meets monthly, and members are seeking ways to help UUCF become a more inclusive congregation and to build and acquire competencies to work toward that goal. We’d love to have you join us if you’re interested in helping achieve these goals.

In case you aren’t aware of what the RJSC works on, the following are some of the committee’s activities over the last year. They have ranged from offering films, such as “Slavery by Another Name” and “13th,” and sponsoring a book club featuring books focused on discrimination and racial injustice to sponsoring the collections of hygiene and snack kits during the UUCF Weekend of Service, which we delivered to Opportunities, Alternatives & Resources, Inc. (OAR).

We’ve sponsored a variety of training to deal with issues of racism and the effects that racism has on all of our lives. On Apr. 15, we are hosting the UU Capital Cluster/Central East Region Leadership Conference, “Building Authentic Diversity: Intercultural Communication as a Tool for Congregational Change.”

We’ve initiated a couple of youth-oriented programs including a joint initiative with Beacon House and UUCF to develop interactions that promote friendship and understanding among young people of diverse backgrounds in our communities. A new initiative was undertaken in February to form an ongoing group to work on how we might incorporate more antiracism work into our work with children.

The Second Principle Project banners you see around the parking lot promote the UUCF Second Principle Project, which was launched in October 2016. The project is designed to help UUCF live our commitment to the Unitarian Universalist Second Principle by affirming and promoting justice, equity and compassion in human relations between all people. We are developing a curriculum for use by UUCF covenant groups and other small groups at UUCF to help them discuss racial justice issues. Another subgroup is exploring how we can facilitate ways for the congregation to be in relationship with other organizations and faith communities. The goal is to deepen our understanding of people from different cultures. We are still exploring a way to provide public witness of our commitment and support of marginalized and vulnerable groups.

On Wed., Apr. 5, here at UUCF, the RJSC – along with the Social Justice Council and the Global Affairs Discussion Group – is co-sponsoring a NoVA interfaith orientation on the Sanctuary Movement.

The RJSC members are identified by their UUCF name tags. I encourage you to talk with any of us to learn more about our activities. We are always open to suggestions and ideas of ways we can be of more service to the congregation in our work to end racial discrimination and injustice.