Social Justice News


 Upcoming Events:


A Conversation About Black Lives Matter

What: Come to a conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement! Should UUS:E post a Black Lives Matter road sign on its property along West Vernon St?

Where: UUS:E Main Meeting Room

When: Sunday, January 24th, 2015 at 12:45.

Statement on Black Lives Matter from the UUS:E Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee

In the face of continued state-sponsored and individually perpetrated violence and hatred targeting people of color, America has a re-surgent racial justice movement known as Black Lives Matter.  Alicia Garza, a community organizer who founded the Black Lives Matter movement calls the name/hashtag/“slogan” an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity and resilience in the face of deadly oppression… as “Black people get free, everybody gets free.”

“We’ve seen a continuation of the narrative that demanding that your life has value somehow takes value from someone else,” Alicia Garza said. “At the most compassionate, it’s a denial of the fact that people are not treated equally in our country. At its most nefarious, it’s a deliberate distraction, a distortion of reality.”

The slogan #AllLivesMatter is often offered in response to #BlackLivesMatter—sometimes out of anger, sometimes out of a desire for peace—but never from a place of full understanding.  #AllLivesMatter is not a liberation movement. It is certainly a true statement akin to the the first Unitarian Universalist principle, “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” or, as we say often with the children, “each person is important.” All lives do matter. But all lives aren’t under assault. All lives don’t have to deal with racism the way Black lives do. When we insert “#AllLivesMatter” into the struggle against racism, it erases the unique experience of Black people, and it erases White society’s role in perpetuating racism. Garza says, “Progressive movements in the United States have made some unfortunate errors when they push for unity at the expense of really understanding the concrete differences in context, experience and oppression.”

 As a predominantly White, liberal, suburban congregation, the SJAO committee’s hope and prayer is that we understand and support:

  • that far too many Black people and other People of Color feel unheard, disrespected, forgotten, marginalized, penalized, demonized by generations of social, political and economic systems and refuse to live that way anymore; and
  • that we must actively support, participate in, and take risks with our partners in the Black Lives Matter movement, always keep in mind Martin Luther King’s first principle that nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

The assertion that black lives simply have value has been perceived by many in the mainstream and many “allies” as attacking and devaluing the life of other human beings.  If we actually believed that all lives matter, the act of asserting that oppressed persons have value could be celebrated as an act of devotion, patriotism, love… a prayer, a BLESSING, a SONG!

The liturgy goes a little something like this:

Leader:  May we learn. May we participate. May we be courageous. May we take risks.   Let us say clearly, proudly and courageously…

All:  Black Lives Matter!

Leader: “Black Lives Matter”

Let the people say: “Amen.”

Now we propose to witness in a new way.  We propose to place a Black Lives Matter  banner on UUS:E grounds, outside of the church on the road, by our mailbox. 

For further reading, see:

Alicia Garza’s “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”

Read the 2015 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly’s statement on Black Lives Matter.

Read about a Black Lives Matter installation at the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters.

Read about Black Lives Matter signs being vandalized.

See Rev. Josh’s 2015 sermon #BlackLivesMatter.

Se Rev. Josh’s 2016 sermon, “Perhaps Struggle is All We Have.”


CT JJAThe Color of Justice
A forum of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance

Sunday Afternoon, November 1st, 1:00 PM at Unitarian Universalist Society: East

In 2007, a 6-year-old girl was arrested in a Florida classroom for having a tantrum. In 2013, an 8-year-oldgirl in Illinois was arrested for “acting out.”  Zach, 10, struggling with depression and learning disabilities (neither diagnosed) and a target for bullies was running away from school and a threatened beating when he tripped over a pipe and dislodged it. His principal had him arrested for vandalism.  According to the National Education Association (NEA) the practice of pushing kids out of school and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems has become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Studies have found very specific decision points in the system where inequalities occur. Please attend this forum, sponsored by the UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee, to explore how children of color and non-European ethnicities are funneled into the juvenile justice system and how they are treated once they are there. Learn what The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance and the State of Connecticut is doing and how you can get involved in this timely and urgent crisis. Sunday, November 1st, 1:00 PM in the main meeting room at UUS:E. Questions? Contact Krystal Kallenberg at (860) 646-5151.

More Information about Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance can be found at


Meeting Connecticut’s Health Care Challenges

On Tuesday evening, October 6th, the UUS:E Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee will not meet at it’s regular time and place. Instead we will gather with an interfaith, multi-racial group at St. Monica’s Episcopal Church in North Hartford for dinner, a forum on health care progress in recent years, and strategizing about how to move forward. More more information, click here.


October Black Lives Matter Activities

Hartford-area clergy protesting anti-black police violence

Hartford-area clergy protesting anti-black police violence

Revolutionary Conversations

First Session, October 8th.

This religious education class for adults and high school youth will begin on Thursday evening, October 8th. For more information and a reading list, click here.


Civil Disobedience Training
Saturday, October 3rd, 2:00 to 5:00 PM

In advance of an October 5th Moral Monday CT action in Hartford, the UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee is hosting a nonviolent civil disobedience training at UUS:E, Saturday evening, Oct. 3rd from 2:00 to 5:00. Bishop John Selders will be our lead trainer. All are welcome regardless of level of commitment. Questions? Contact Rev. Josh Pawelek at (860) 652-8961 or


Hartford Courant photo--UUS:E's Rev. Josh leading the closing of the 11-25 Ferguson Solidarity vigil at Center Church in Hartford

Hartford Courant photo–UUS:E’s Rev. Josh leading the closing of the 11-25 Ferguson Solidarity vigil at Center Church in Hartford

Moral Monday Connecticut
Monday, October 5th beginning at 3:00 PM
at the Unitarian Society of Hartford

50 Bloomfield Ave., Hartford, CT

There will be a Moral Monday Connecticut / Black Lives Matter rally in Hartford on Monday afternoon, October 5th. The action begins at 3:00 at the Unitarian Society of Hartford. Questions? Contact Rev. Josh Pawelek at (860) 652-8961 or


backpackThe Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee Backpack Project Continues!

The Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee wishes to thank all those who participated in our latest collection of household and toiletry items for recently released prisoners during the month of June. This program, conducted in partnership with Community Partners in Action, an agency which helps recently released prisoners begin their lives again with the best possible start in many areas of living, collected 8 full backpacks. Those backpacks were dedicated at our September 13th 9:00 AM service and delivered to CPA at that time. Thank you!

ADVOCACY: Supporting efforts to pass Governor Malloy’s Second Chance Society Legislation.

The UUS:E Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee has worked in various ways over they years to advance criminal justice and drug policy reforms aimed at stopping mass incarceration of people of color and ending the US “War on Drugs.” This year, CT’s Governor Dannel Malloy proposed sweeping legislation to achieve many of the reforms we’ve worked on in years past.

Read the highlights of Governor Malloy’s Second Chance Society proposals here.

Read Rev. Pawelek’s letter in the Hartford Courant in support of Governor Malloy’s proposals here.

Congratulations to all who worked on passage of this bill. It was signed into law in early July!


Get involved!

All are welcome to attend the planning meetings of the Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee (SJAO) which take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm in Rev. Josh’s office.  Contact our office at 860-646-5151 or


Goals of the UUS:E Social Justice Committee:

One of our primary Social Justice Committee goals is to achieve a better balance between our advocacy and service work within the Greater Hartford community and our connective work within our own Unitarian Universalist Society: East community. We are accordingly working harder to listen and to respond to stories of our own members and friends. As a starting point, representative members of our Rainbow Alliance and Social Justice committees have been meeting together to determine how Unitarian Universalist Society: East can be an “additionally welcoming” place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members and friends. Rainbow Alliance and Social Justice will accordingly cosponsor an appropriate range of educational, legislative advocacy and relationship oriented activities. Some suggestions have been forums,movie nights and direct discussion opportunities (e.g., getting together in members’ homes). During our last meeting, we also discussed”radical communication” as a possible metaphor (e.g., more openly sharing our individual journeys and our resulting hopes and dreams).

Our Mission:

“When people come together to work on social justice projects, they break the bonds of individualism and isolation that fragment communities. They make sacred space for one another. Together they explore the issues that tear at their hearts, and cause them concern for the future. The issue and the passion can only come from them. And, together, they partner with others to understand their place in the community, the gifts they bring to the community, and the hopes and dreams of others. Too many people think that spirituality and social justice are at opposite ends of the continuum, even polarized from one another. In truth, neither can be fulfilled without the other.” Rev. Jeanne Lloyd

The Social Justice Committee (SJC) fosters and focuses the passion for social justice among the members and friends of Unitarian Universalist Society: East by undertaking certain activities itself, and by providing an umbrella forum for the initiation, coordination and lifting up of social justice activities in other groups at Unitarian Universalist Society: East. In doing so, we cover the full spectrum of social justice work, including service (S), education (E), witness (W), advocacy (A), community organizing (CO) and transformation (T).

Activities of the Social Justice Committee



  1. […] The Moral Monday actions have not exactly been underground. There are hashtags and Twitter accounts for the movement. Yet, it seems that the civil disobedience during Monday’s evening rush hour took a number of people, including some reporters, by surprise — despite the intentions being announced on Real Hartford and elsewhere. […]