There Are Only Three Important Words
This is part two a multi-part series of reflections the by Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Unitarian Universalist Association on Selma after attending the Selma 50th March and Jubilee. You can find part one here. – ed.
On Friday morning, we began with worship led by Mark Hicks. The theme of worship focused on stories and relationships, a theme that would later be echoed by Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed’s keynote address to Living Legacy Project Conference attendees. During worship Olivia spoke about why she traveled from Maine to Birmingham, AL. Olivia had been on the Living Legacy Pilgrimage the previous year. On that trip, she met a veteran of the the civil rights movement who asked the group “My story is recorded in the Library of Congress. Where will yours end up?” Upon this statement, Olivia reflected,
Where will my story end up? Where will your story end up?
Reading these questions, I still get chills even though weeks have passed. We all ask ourselves these questions, in different forms of course. To hear it echoed while sitting in a room with a number of veterans of the civil rights movement and current leaders in our faith was powerful beyond belief. Mark Hicks wrapped it up reminding us to be open to the possibilities we might encounter.
After worship was Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed’s keynote, but instead of dissecting it, you should go watch it here. There’s just one quote that echoed deeply within me. Rev. Dr. Morrison-Reed asked,
With whom are you in relationship? Or what is in the way of you making that relationship? With whom are you in relationship, a relationship that would compel you to take risk?
He asked these questions because relationships are what brought ministers to Selma (and some congregations’ boards). With these questions I reflected on the ways I first got involved in anti-racism and anti-oppression work. I reflected on how those relationships changed, and the ways my commitments changed or didn’t. I invite you to reflect “With whom are you in relationship that would compel you to take risk?”
After Rev. Dr. Morrison-Reed’s keynote there was a dramatic performance and workshops, you can find them here. I attended the “Voices of the Veterans” workshop which was enlightening. I did have the opportunity to ask them “What wisdom would you share with youth activists today?” which would presage the keynote conversation with C.T. Vivian.
Before dinner, the families of the martyrs joined us for a memorial. The families of Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo, and Rev. James Reeb all received a memorial honoring the lives of their loved ones. It was a very touching event, with some surprising insights as well.
My major role as “Dean of Youth” at the conference was to organize spaces for youth (and, unofficially, young adults) to gather and share their experiences as well as not lose them at the rally on Sunday. To facilitate conversation, we reserved a table each for youth and young adults.
Following dinner was a conversational interview with Rev. Jim Hobart and Rev. C.T. Vivian. Rev. Vivian was a close confidante of Martin Luther King Jr., and this was a highlight of the weekend. @BartFrost#Wisdom2Share
Some of my favorite quotes were,
Do racists Christians think they are fooling God?
If you don’t love someone, how can you be religious at all?
It was interesting to hear his experience of non-violent direct action and how he felt it differs from today’s #BlackLivesMatter movement. But, I’ll go into that in more detail in the next post.
I will leave you all with one more quote from Rev. C.T. Vivian:
There are only three important words: