by Paula Cole Jones, Racial & Social Justice Consultant, Joseph Priestley District in the Central Eastern Region, UUA
As we face the erosion of democracy and people’s rights in this country, our principles call us to take part in building an enduring people’s movement for justice.
This is Week Four of Climate Justice Month and soon we will celebrate Earth Day 2016. This week’s actions are to show up for democracy and to learn more about building sustainable, winning people’s coalitions. Climate Justice depends on our ability to act justly together: building connections between people, issues, groups and organizations to create a truly representative and sustainable democracy.
Democracy Spring began on April 2nd with a march to Washington, DC, from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Thousands will take civil disobedience on the steps of our political Capital buildings this week.
I joined the movement at Union Station’s Columbus Circle on Monday, as banners and signs were distributed and hoisted against the sky. Speakers took the stage and set the tone for an energized crowd.
Police escorts held back traffic as about 2,000 marchers took to the streets chanting --- “Campaign reform now! Protect voters’ rights! Get big money out of politics!” --- to the steps of the United States Capital for the first of five days of sit-ins. Over 400 people were arrested on day-one.
The US Supreme Court overlooks the steps where Monday’s protest and arrests took place. Ironically, engraved on the building’s face is an unfulfilled promise: “Equal Protection Under Law”. Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening are about demanding fair elections, protected by law, so that this promise can be fulfilled. We rise together to overcome laws and practices that strip people of fundamental voting rights and increase the power of corporations over communities, to the detriment of People and the Planet.
Get inspired: Listen to these two prophetic sermons preached by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II at All Souls Church of Washington, DC, on Sunday March 6, 2016: Standing in the Tradition of Moral Dissent and Bothered and Baptized by the Blood.
Get educated: Read, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, by The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II. 2016. Beacon Press.
Rev. Dr. Barber II connects past and present struggles for forward movement of The People’s rights and resulting backlashes from those who resisted full participation of all people in shaping our democracy.
Climate Justice requires that we are engaged in addressing the injustice of inequitable voice and representation in political decisions of our local communities, our nation and international agreements. We should all be studying Rev. Barber’s book now. His stories and suggested “14 Steps Forward Together” will teach us how to build strong diverse coalitions.
Take action: Get out to DC this week or take action in your local area! There will be a Democracy Awakening teach-in at the All Souls Church on Saturday, the 16th -- which is also Democracy Spring’s Climate Justice Day.
Don’t let this chance pass you by. Don’t think that others will take care of it. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with other marchers to renew our hope and identity as justice builders, and to recharge our batteries for the long haul, as the movement continues to build.
All of us are needed to say out loud and to show with resolve that this is our democracy, our country and we are not letting go of it!!!
Onward, In Faith,
Paula Cole Jones
Member, Commit2Respond Communications & Resources Team
Racial & Social Justice Consultant, Joseph Priestley District in the Central Eastern Region, UUA
Lifelong member, All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC