Social Justice News and Reading Room

Anti-Racism Reading Group – Feb 9

Sunday, January 8

Join our ongoing reading group on Thurs, Feb. 9, from 7-8:30pm, for a discussion of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad. National Book Award winner and NYTimes #1 bestseller is a powerful chronicle of a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. Copies of the book are available in the FUS bookstore.

At our discussion we will use this reading guide.

And for something completely different, at our next reading group session we’ll discuss Black Panther #1, #2, & #3, the superhero comic book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Join us on Thurs, April 13, from 7-8:30pm.

For more info Rev. Kelli.

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Sat, Jan 21 – MN Women’s March

As a new administration takes national office, FUS members and friends have an opportunity to take to the streets in St. Paul to vigorously support justice, equality, human and especially women’s rights, and radical inclusion. FUS is a proud sponsor of the MN Women’s March; we will march with UUs from across the state, people of other faith communities, secular people, women, men, families, and transgender folks; all are invited and welcome to participate in the Minnesota Women’s March in St. Paul on Saturday, January 21. First Universalist Church has charted a few buses that will depart from and return to their parking lot at 3400 Dupont Ave S, Minneapolis. Please sign up ASAP here:  Suggested donation is $10 per person/$20 for families.

A training in de-escalation and self-defense, as well as a theological grounding of protest and resistance will take place at Unity Unitarian, 733 Portland Ave, St. Paul, on Tuesday, Jan 10. Potluck supper at 6p, training 7-9pm. Pre-reading material to enhance the training is here. 

Sign making party at First Universalist on Thursday, Jan 19, from 5-7:30pm. Light supper will be served. Families welcome.

Please Rev. Kelli  if you have questions or need more info. Let’s do this!



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ASSEMBLY: Copernicus and Darwin

Sunday, August 21

10:30am | Lower Assembly Hall

Member Steve Hansen speaking

Both Copernicus and Darwin wrote books that upended the way we look at the universe and our place in it. Both Copernicus and Darwin were religious men who were dismayed by where their findings had taken them, and waited decades to make their thoughts public. Both books resulted in fame three generations later. These parallels and their differences will be explored.

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Summer 2016 Examining Whiteness

Wednesday, July 27

Never has the time been more urgent for Humanists and Unitarian Universalists to engage in the life saving work of Examining Whiteness. As a predominately white congregation, how well do we understand the Movement for Black Lives?  How willing are we to do our part and delve into what it means to be white in America in 2016? How did we get here? What are the social dynamics at play? When we ask “dangerous questions,” what are our underlying assumptions? How able are we to tolerate our own discomfort with unearned privilege? These are only some of the questions we will engage during the Summer 2016 Examining Whiteness curriculum.

We will meet at First Unitarian Society on Monday 8/15, Tuesday 8/16, and Thursday 8/18, from 6-9pm. You are welcome to bring a brown-bag supper.

Please contact Rev. Kelli if you have further questions:

We hope to see you there!

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FUS Collects School Supplies for MCTC

Sunday, July 3

Update on MCTC Project College Connection
It is time to start gathering school supplies for the homeless students at Minneapolis Community & Technical College. Our financial support from this year’s service auction was under 1/3 of what we had from the prior year. Last academic year we were able to provide extra items like bus passes, holiday food cards and school supplies (in addition to weekly lunches and snack bags) for SAHH but will need extra support from individuals to do so this year.
School supplies go on sale in July – Office Depot/Max have good sales. You can watch for their ads and shop often OR you can send contributions to FUS (marked for MCTC) and we will shop for you.  If you can shop, you can take advantage of great specials that are limited to 1 per household (per shopping trip).  You can also get great backpacks at 1/2 price on sale.
Supplies needed are:
  • Pencils
  • Hi-liters
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Notebooks – College Ruled
  • Jump Drives: USB 3.0 GB
  • Legal pads: Reg.size & Junior size
  • Self-stick notes; 3in x 3in
  • Hand sanitizer (small)
  • Folders
  • Scientific calculators
  • Three ring binders 1, 1/2, 2 inches (used are OK)
  • Heavy Duty Backpacks
  • Academic Planners – these sell out quickly

Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. Bring items to FUS and leave in the FUS office. MCTC classes start Aug. 22 so supplies are needed by Aug. 14.  Thank you so much.

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FUS Youth Wins in Peace Essay Contest

SophiaPeaceTalkOne of our First Unitarian Society youth — Southwest high school junior Sophia Morrissette — won a third-place scholarship in an essay contest sponsored by the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, a coalition of over 70 peace and justice organizations throughout the state. She was invited to read her essay at the Alliance annual peace event, held at the Perpich Center for the Performing Arts on November 10.

Morrissette learned about the contest from an FUS member who encouraged her to consider submitting an essay.

The question Morrissette addressed was: Identify one or more root causes of conflict. Describe ways to resolve conflict, locally or internationally.

Her essay is attached.

Roots of Conflict


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2015-16 SJ Curriculum: Examining Whiteness

Sunday, September 27

7-8:30pm | FUS Library

To fully engage in the work of dismantling racism in our culture, white people need a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of white privilege and power, the racial identity journey, and how to develop a positive white identity. In 7 sessions throughout this program year, we will dive deep into this challenging and rewarding work. Examining Whiteness, developed by Rev. Dr. William Gardiner, is a resource from the UUA written primarily for white people interested in transforming their white identity through understanding the complex history of white supremacy over four hundred years in the US, and the impact it has on us as individuals and on society as a whole.

We will meet from 7-8:30pm in the Library, on the 2nd Thursday of each month except December. Meeting dates are Oct. 8, Nov. 12, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, Mar. 10, Apr. 14, May 12.

Reading list is here:

Reading assignments: 

Nov. 12 – Reflections on the History of White Supremacy in the United States

Jan. 14 – Emotional Lives of White People and The Anatomy of White Guilt

Feb. 11 – Racial Identity Development and Racial Identity Journey

March 10 – Different Ways of Being White and White Privilege and Power

April 14 – Developing a Positive White Identity

May 12 – discussion – Creating an Anti-Racism Core Team at FUS

Participants are encouraged to attend for the entire curriculum if possible. At the end of the course, we will explore next steps for establishing an anti-racism core team at FUS. 

Please contact Rev. Kelli – – with questions or comments. I look forward to seeing you on Oct. 8.


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MCTC Support Sign-Up Here

You can be a Sandwich & Snackbag Hero and help sustain the Society’s partnership with Minnesota Community & Technical College and their Students Against Hunger and Homelessness. We need volunteers to shop for, assemble, and deliver sandwiches and snack bags.

Instructions will be provided.  Check out the SignUp Genius link & be a hero!

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Social Justice Reading Room

Sunday, August 2

At the Society we are engaging a conversation about white privilege and systemic racism, and we do so with courage, curiosity, and compassion for ourselves and for others.  Understanding white privilege is not about being ashamed but rather about being responsible. This space will serve as a curated reading list to enlighten our understanding of white privilege and racism. (Shout out to Molly Illes for resources and support.)

What are you reading that helps you better understand white privilege and systemic racism? Send me an with a title and link; perhaps we’ll include it on the page here.

Look for discussion opportunities throughout the 2015-16 program year.



Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Friere

Understanding and Dismantling Racism – Joseph Barndt

Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability – Mary Elizabeth Hobgood

The Slums of Aspen – Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Pellow

Learning to Be White: Money, Race, and God in America – Thandeka

Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations – Joe R. Feagin

Soul Work: Anti-racist Theologies in Dialogue – Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Nancy Palmer Jones, eds.

Online resources and blog posts:

I, Racist, by John Metta –

11 Ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility for its Racism: The pernicious impact of “white fragility” by Dr. Robin Diangelo –

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis –

SURJ-MN – Showing Up for Racial Justice –

Colorlines: News for Action –

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Introduction to Legislative Advocacy

What is legislative advocacy?

Legislative advocacy is using data and personal stories to persuade your legislator to vote a certain way on legislation or appropriations.   In terms of social justice, legislative advocacy is a tool to create change at the systems level.

I’m new to advocacy.  What do I do?

1.  Know Your Legislator

Look up your state representatives here.

Do background research in order to build rapport and tailor your message.  Good places to start include  their official web site, social media, and articles in the newspaper.

2.  Know Yourself

When contacting your legislator, be clear about your own values, priorities, and passions. Weaving this into your message makes it more compelling.

3.  Build Your Message

Frame your message using positive words that are non-partisan and non-polarizing.  Do not blame or point fingers; instead, suggest forward actions and provide a practical solution to the problem.  Research your facts.  Talking points are often available from nonprofit and advocacy groups related to your issue.

4.  Deliver Your Message

A meeting with your legislator should be no more than five minutes, and a letter no more than one page long.  Introduce yourself as a constituent and limit small talk.  Begin by telling your personal story (e.g. “I’m here because…”).  Frame the message using facts, but limit to one or two.  Too many facts will be overwhelming and make your message forgettable.  Have a one-page summary to hand to your legislator and highlight the talking points.  Then pivot and ask directly for their support.  Close the meeting by thanking them for their time and how you will follow up.  For example, “I will call your office next week to see if you have any additional questions.”

Easy Ways to Get Started

Many organizations host lobby days or “Day on the Hill” where they provide training on the message and talking points and schedule group appointments with your legislator.  This is a great way to start out doing advocacy.


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