How Change Happens

Some think that “concrete” wins in policy and advocacy arenas are the only true ways to achieve lasting social change. Others believe that changing minds, hearts, and culture is all that matters. In reality, culture change and policy change go hand in hand.

Black Lives Matter_SSL

I was so impressed with this post by Caitlin Breedlove, campaign director for Standing on the Side of Love, that I thought it worth repeating on the Connector. As we gather Sunday to rededicate our congregational commitment to the Movement for Black Lives, this is an important message about how the way we make change in society is, itself, undergoing significant changes. I use you to read and discuss this as we movemforward in our work together.  —Jeff

Dear Friends,

Happy Friday! Some of you may have already seen A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice from the Movement for Black Lives. Here is a little bit about the “why” and “who” of this platform in their own words:

“In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda. We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.”

Many people have been asking to see a policy platform from this movement from the first moment when “Black Lives Matter” became a phrase common in households, media outlets, schools, streets, and faith communities across the United States. Some have wanted the movement to advise and instruct on what policy wins could truly make “Black Lives Matter” in the country. Many have asked why it has “taken so long” to see this platform.

At the heart of this debate is a question about how social change happens. Some think that “concrete” wins in policy and advocacy arenas are the only true ways to achieve lasting social change. This denies the fact that history shows policy wins usually occur only when culture change has shifted public opinion on issues. It obscures the fact that policy wins only matter when there are people willing to win them, defend them, and hold those in power accountable to them.

Others believe that changing minds, hearts, and culture is all that matters. This analysis forgets that concrete demands (of all kinds) give groups and movements specific goals to focus on, and benchmark wins to achieve.

In reality, culture change and policy change go hand in hand. However, when the work of movement is to build with hundreds of thousands of people you can put a ceiling on momentum, consciousness raising, and transformative hope by rushing to any one “quick fix” policy solution too soon. This policy platform reflects the reality that there is no one policy win that can instantly make Black lives matter in the US or around the world.

So, what does the platform ask of us? How can we, as Unitarian Universalists, engage it? We believe that every movement has the right to its own self-determination. The movement is led by those directly affected by injustice and it names its own needs, demands, and its own vision for transformation. The platform invites us to acknowledge that. It invites us to struggle with the fact that we might disagree with some parts of it. It invites us to be a steady support for The Movement for Black Lives nonetheless. It invites us as individuals, groups, and congregations to seek what parts of it speaks to our hearts, radiates with alignment in our own lives, and gives us ideas about what we can work on in our own communities. It gives us clarity on where the Movement for Black Lives stands on some of these policy issues. We hope that it informs and engages you in that spirit.

With appreciation,

Caitlin Breedlove
Campaign Director, Standing on the Side of Love


Tomorrow: 1k Mothers and Fathers Against Violence

Join 1,000 mothers and fathers against violence

Five meet-up locations—all marches converging on Rodney Square

Christina Park – 4th & Church
Congo Parking Lot – 25th & Market
Cool Springs Park – 10th & Van Buren
Rodney St. Park – 4th & Rodney
Jackson St. Boys and Girls Club – Elm & Jackson

All locations will have a designated person to lead marchers to Rodney Square.


Wear your shirts and bring your posters!


Vigil for Black Lives: Wednesday, August 10. Rededication: August 21


Members of First Unitarian Church dedicate banners in support of Black Lives Matter on May 29. The banners have been vandalized three times during the past week. A vigil will be held on August 10, followed by a rededication of new banners on Sunday, Aug. 21.

On Weds, Aug. 10 at 5:00 pm, First Unitarian Church will host a peaceful vigil in support of Black Lives Matter at the corner of Whitby Road and Route 202. Members of the community are invited to stand with us in solidarity with people around the nation who are doing the hard work of dismantling racism in our society.

On Sunday August 21, at 11:30 am the congregation will hold a ceremony to rededicate our banners. The public is invited to join us at both of these events.

IMG_5546Members of First Unitarian Church of Wilmington intend to persevere in advocating for Black Lives Matter in the face of ongoing vandalism. In the past week, our Black Lives Matter banners have been damaged three times. The vandalism occurred over night on Friday July 29, Tuesday August 2, and Wednesday August 3. After the first two incidents, new banners already on hand were immediately erected. We intend to erect new banners yet again as soon as they arrive.

After the second incident we added a new sign informing the vandals that not only would we continue to erect new banners, but we would make a contribution to Black Lives Matter UU each time an act of criminal vandalism occurred. We have made two donations this week in response to the vandalism, insuring that these cowardly criminal actions lead to positive work for racial justice.

BLM-SSLWe know that many members of the Wilmington community—especially the faith community—are eager to have honest conversations about race, justice, and the value of black lives in America. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from members of the community since the vandalism began. We have received calls and emails and Facebook messages. People have offered to help pay for replacement banners. Donations are coming in daily. The State Police are actively investigating these incidents.


Yes, it happened again.

To the vandals who come in the night — and the racists who reveal themselves in Rockford Park.



Some subscribers to the Connector are not on Facebook, but you should visit the First Unitarian Facebook page for the latest news on the second act of vandalism against our banners in support of Black Lives Matter. Click here to go to the FirstU FB Page.

If you have any doubts about the need to stay strong against racism, you should also view a video by Wilmington resident Ivan Thomas, which was posted yesterday. Ivan is a skilled video journalist whose (#detv) chronicles positive news about Delaware. “100% positive 200% of the time” is his slogan.

In his latest video post, Ivan discusses a hateful experience he had in Rockford Park. This is a man who has been terribly wronged—and he responds with love, love, love. How much longer can beautiful black men like Ivan turn the other cheek?





News Coverage of Vandalism: Dialogue over Destruction


A replacement sign was mounted on Sunday after church by Jon and Susan.

Local news media provided the following coverage of the vandalism of First Unitarian Church’s banner in support of Black Lives Matter. We’ll continue to provide links to new articles as they appear. 

WPVI Ch. 6 Action News:

WDEL Radio: “Talleyville church’s Black Lives Matter replaced after vandalism”

Wilmington News-Journal: “Church Responds to Black Lives Matter vandals with dollars”

Fox 29 News (video):Church Sign Vandalized in Wilmington, Del.

Wilmington News-Journal: “Black Lives Matter banner vandalized in Talleyville

NBC-10 Philadelphia (web story only):Vandal Cuts ‘Black’ Out of ‘Black Lives Matter’ Banner at Wilmington Church (opinion):Wilmington church responds to vandal cutting ‘Black’ from Black Lives Matter sign

Wilmington News Journal: “Talleyville church supports Black Lives Matter movement”




Black Lives Banner Vandalized


Members of First Unitarian Church of Wilmington were dismayed and affronted by this weekend’s vandalism of a banner in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that we had displayed on church property along Concord Pike. The word “BLACK” was carefully cut out of the banner, apparently during the night on Friday, July 29—an anonymous and illegal attempt to silence Unitarian Universalism’s prophetic voice. This cowardly act will not prevent us from continuing to speak out about racial justice as a congregation and a religious movement.

First Unitarian Church is a largely white congregation. After considerable study and reflection, we erected these banners not only to state our spiritual commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, but also to spark a conversation within the community about institutional racism and violence aimed at people of color. The person or persons who vandalized our congregation’s public affirmation of faith were apparently unwilling to have that conversation. Instead, they chose vandalism over dialogue, striking with a knife against our highest principles—the spirit of love and compassion that we are trying to embody as allies of Black Lives Matter.

We deplore all violence. For those of us who believe in the power of love to overcome fear and hate, this has been a difficult summer. With the mass shooting in Orlando, the shooting deaths of black men in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, and the deplorable targeting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, we can only reaffirm our commitment to non-violent advocacy and to Black Lives Matter.

We know that there have been some misunderstandings about Black Lives Matter. One of them is that it is an anti-police movement. We do not believe that to be true, and we want to be very clear that our congregation values the work of the police in our community. We recognize that we need police departments to serve and protect our community. We seek changes in police practices and accountability that ensure that black citizens are treated justly and fairly not only by the police but by the whole criminal justice system.

We know that many members of the Wilmington community—especially the faith community—are eager to have honest conversations about race, justice, and the value of black lives in America. In the face of this naked act of vandalism, our congregation will not be deterred from its mission. We invite members of the community to talk with us about their concerns.

Later this summer we will have a ceremony of rededication to which the community will be invited.