First Universalist for Racial Equity

Current Programs:

Race in a Brave Space (RiBS)

Dialogues with Verdis L. Robinson

This series of dialogues creates a brave space to learn, grow, and act toward antiracism – all in the context of our UU principles -- especially concerning the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  Participants will engage in real talk about race in relationship to (1) American History, (2) the Unitarian Universalist faith, (3) local Rochester history, and (4) an inspiring meditation to lift up racial justice.  All sessions will be virtual from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

To Register: Email FIRE@uuroc.org!

10/16/20 Dialogue #1: “What My History Teacher Never Taught Me” 

Drawing from Mr. Robinson’s teaching African American history and decolonizing American history, we will explore hard truths by lifting up marginalized voices and experiences. We will learn what was intentionally left out of the historical narrative, why, and what to do about it.

11/13/20 Dialogue #2: “Wilderness Journey”: Unitarian Universalism and the Black Empowerment Controversy

Participants will preview the film, Wilderness Journey: The Struggle for Black Empowerment and Racial Justice within the Unitarian Universalist Association, 1967-1970 (found on YouTube). We will reflect together on its lessons, what is currently plaguing our religious tradition, and imagine what our future as UUs could look like.

1/22/21 Dialogue #3: Rochester’s History of Systemic Racism

From the fiery destruction of Frederick Douglass’ home to the uprising in July 1964 to the
perpetuation of residential segregation, we will explore the systemic racism in Rochester’s history. What have we really learned? What is being done? What is OUR vision for our community?

3/19/21 Dialogue #4: Enduring the Long Night: A Meditation

Mr. Robinson will share an interpretation of Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  What does it take for the joy to come? We will create a collective meditation on enduring the long night of racism to get to that glorious morning together.

Verdis Robinson’s guest leadership is being sponsored by the FIRE team of the First Universalist Church. Congregational members will receive zoom links to the virtual seminars. Free-will donations will be greatly appreciated – money received will support other activities toward achieving racial equity.

Eunice & Jim Eckberg Racial Justice Memorial Film Series

About the Film Series
This series features films that address racial justice through history, music and spiritual avenues. This event is a facilitated discussion of ways to further the message of racial equity in our city and world. Films are to be viewed on your own prior to discussion to assure a quality experience.


This film series is named in memory of two beloved First Universalist Church members who shared an enduring quest for racial justice throughout their years together. Eunice was tireless in her giving as a Rochester City School District teacher and her work at Rochester Psychiatric Hospital. Jim inspired through his gentle and insistent quest for racial equity. We are honored to remember them. 

To Register: Email FIRE@uuroc.org with your selection of films!

10/18/20 “A Tale of Two Schools” 

(2017, 61 min, YouTube): An intimate and compelling documentary about children at risk and the parents and teachers who care about them. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it features a dedicated superintendent, a novice teacher, and a first grader overwhelmed by the challenge of learning to read—all captured during a tumultuous year in two struggling schools.

11/15/20 “I Am Not Your Negro”

(2017, 1 hr. 33 min, Netflix, Amazon): Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished book, this visual essay explores racism through the stories of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

1/17/21 "The Hate You Give"

(2018, 2 hr.13 min, Hulu, HBO, You Tube, Amazon Prime): The uneasy balance between two worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

2/21/21 "BlackkKlansman"

(2018, 135 min, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Apple TV): An African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Directed by Spike Lee and based on actual events.

3/21/21 "Selma"

(2019, 2hrs. 8 min, Netflix, Amazon): This unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Directed by Ava DuVernay, Selma shows how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

4/18/21 "What Happened, Miss Simone""

(2015, 1 hr. 41 min, Amazon Prime, Netflix): Classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon and legendary artist Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty and musical genius. There are jarring insights into the mother, the activist and the tortured soul at the root of Simone's career, but it's the legendary songstress who ultimately shines through.

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