The 10-foot-long sign came about as a result of recent nationwide incidents in which black children, youth and adults have been killed by law enforcement officers and vigilantes, and as part of a larger appeal for justice in our legal system. A national Unitarian Universalist group has asked churches throughout the country to make visible their call for accountability for these deaths, and their support for the right of black citizens to receive even-handed treatment by law enforcement and the judicial system. About 20 Unitarian Universalist churches have responded by erecting similar signs and banners.

The well-attended UCE congregational meeting included testimony in support of the sign by church members. The youngest speaker, a 14-year-old, said, “We have to say ‘black lives matter’
because police are saying that black lives do not matter when they murder black people without cause. We have to take action because that’s what being Unitarian Universalist is about.” Priscilla Ormes, age 87, declared, “We must turn Ridge Avenue into the road for justice. There are so many houses of worship along Ridge, and we must persuade others to join us.” Senior Minister Rev. Bret Lortie responded to the vote, saying,“This makes me so proud to be a part of this community.”

In a sermon two weeks prior to the vote, Minister for Lifespan Religious Education Rev. Connie Grant quoted Kenny Wiley, a young black man who serves as senior editor of the national UU World magazine: “You are a woman and your life matters just the same. You are gay or lesbian and your life matters just the same. You have a disability and your life matters just the same. Right now we are being called to promote and affirm: You are young and black and your life matters just the same. You stole something and your life matters just the same. I have been taught to fear you, and your life matters just the same.”