DIVERSITY WITH MUSIC
Our choir has sung at Ward Temple African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and the AME choir has sung with us. Special events like our Gospel Song Fest, and Civil Rights Songs, are among favorite evenings followed by fellowship and food. Celebrating the two choirs’ anniversary in 2014 the AME choir recognized our great mutual relationship by presenting us with a trophy and a certificate, in gratitude for our joint participation in music.
Singers of United Land (SOUL) is a group with different singers every year, from different countries. They have visited us for five years on their tour throughout the Eastern United States. Their songs are from their homelands in their own languages with native instruments. Each year the singers bring a message of universal understanding. We provide housing for them for a week during which they sing at local schools and teach children about the value of diversity. We present a free local concert for the public with a reception following, enjoying talk with the singers. In 2014 the singers were from Croatia, Taiwan, Nigeria, Uruguay.
DIVERSITY IN RACIAL CONCERNS
At GA 2015 Black Lives Matter was voted an Action of Immediate Witness. Several MUUF members were also NAACP members, but we became more active. We attended a panel discussion about restoring the right to vote for ex-felons. As part of the Political Action Committee, we sought signatures for petitions to restore the right to vote. Not only in our own congregation, but also at various meetings frequently with voter registration information. MUUF Social Action Committee co-sponsored with Occupy presentations with discussion following: “Slavery by Another Name,” Bill Moyer’s interview with Michele Alexander titled “Incarceration Nation,” and the film “American Denial.” The program after one of our monthly Share-a-Dish dinners was on restoring the right to vote with an ACLU attorney and the Director of the local Project 180, a residential facility for ex-felons. One Issue of the Quarter was a review of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. We used the Study Guide and Call to Action by Veterans of Hope Project. There were put into the MUUF Library along with “Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow” by Daniel Hunter. Four Monday evening meetings were devoted to a discussion of “The New Jim Crow.” Our Wayside Pulpit announced our programs for the public. To read the book review of “The New Jim Crow,” go to Newsletters for November 2015. To see photos of petitions, Freedom Fund dinner, go to Making a Difference ALBUM
For two years we have received awards for the MLK Day of Service programs. In 2017 our award paid for supplies and equipment for the Joseph Recovery Rehab Center for men. The residents did the painting, preparing the floor for tile, and stored the supplies. The Habitat for Humanity workers did the tiling and replaced the baseboards in the halls and dining areas. In 2016 our award provided for Turning Points One Stop Center for the Homeless computers for clients to use to assist job employment and housing. Also there were four computers for dentist work in the medical center.
In 2016 we received a UUA grant to promote voting by mail in District 2, mainly Black residents. We worked with the NAACP to distribute information and forms.
We are pleased that the Florida Supreme Court approved the Restore the Right to Vote petitions, so that now we are busy collecting signatures to place the citizen initiative on the November 2018 ballot.
DIVERSITY WITH THE LATINO COMMUNITY
Hispanic lives matter and we coordinate activities with the Hispanic advocacy organization, UniDosNow. We have had speakers present programs, the young leaders have spoken about their history and plans. We worked with them on submitting an application for UUA grant for DAPA program. MUUF worked with the mentoring program for high school seniors on their plans for college.
MUUF received UUA grants over the years for Radio Announcements on Coalition of Immokalee Workers radio station in Immokalee, on a Sarasota radio station in both English and Spanish, and the UniDosNow radio station at Manatee Technical College in both English and Spanish versions, recorded by MUUF members.
STANDING ON THE SIDE OF LOVE
Standing on the Side of Love is a Spiritual Journey for Social Justice. MUUF participated in the UUA’s “30 Days of Love” program in 2014 for the first time. Our guest speakers were inspiring, and the special music from our choir was uplifting. We also gave two “Courageous Love” awards: one, posthumously to Harry T. Moore, the founder of the NAACP in Florida, and to Susie Copeland, the current President of the Manatee County NAACP.
Rev. Charles McKenzie began, as he has for several years, with a tribute to Martin Luther King. If you haven’t seen his one-man show as MLK, you’re really missing something special.
Duncan Teague, a ministerial candidate from Atlanta, stayed with us for 2 weeks, thanks to the generous hosting of one of our members. What a dynamic and inspiring speaker he is!
James Delgado, a local attorney, told us his story as an American-born Hispanic, and the effects it had on him and on his children.
Henry Lawrence, migrant worker, retired pro-football star, gospel and blues singer, and local hero. He told us the story of his early life and the struggles of his family. He pays it forward with his Youth Foundation.