Beyond the Banner
Black Lives Matter — Moving Beyond the Banner
Following a series of educational events to raise awareness, and much discussion, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation members voted in April 2016 to take a public stand to affirm that Black Lives Matter. Then, in September 2016, Beacon and Fountain Baptist Church partnered to lead a Black Lives Matter March through downtown Summit that drew more than 500 people. Following the March, both congregations held ceremonies to raise Black Lives Matter banners in front of their houses of worship. The March and Banner raising were intended to heighten awareness about systemic racism in America and to celebrate the interfaith partnership between Beacon and Fountain. Our efforts now continue Beyond the Banner.
The Black Lives Matter – Beyond the Banner Team is planning a series of public events. One thread is aimed at educating people about the impact of our criminal justice laws, policies and practices on Black lives.
The first event in this series took place on March 16th, when Beacon and Fountain Baptist co-presented a screening and panel discussion of Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary, “13th.” The powerful film traces the criminalization of Black lives from slavery to Jim Crow to current day mass incarceration, referencing the often overlooked impact of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The event, held at Summit High School, drew 250 people from Fountain, Beacon and surrounding communities. The panel was moderated by Dr. Kahlil Muhammad, professor of history, race and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Muhammad is a public intellectual whose scholarship focuses on race and the construction of criminality in the United States. He led Dr. Johanna Foster, director of sociology at Monmouth University, and Rev. Charles Boyer, pastor at Bethel AME – Woodbury, in a discussion about mass incarceration of Black lives. Dr. Foster discussed her research on the disproportionate incarceration of Black women and the impact of mass incarceration of both men and women on families and communities of color. Rev. Boyer discussed his advocacy work aimed at overturning N.J. criminal laws that disproportionately impact African Americans and his goal of ending the imprisonment of juvenile offenders.
Later this spring, the Beyond the Banner Team will join with the ACLU-NJ for a screening and discussion of the documentary “Do Not Resist.” The film explores the often hidden militarization of American police forces and it’s impact on communities, particularly those of color. Stay tuned for an announcement of date and location.
The Beyond the Banner Team