During the pandemic, over 800,000 people in the United States have died of COVID; 20 million Americans lost their jobs, and eight million more went into poverty. At the same time, billionaires made $2 trillion.
On December 13, hundreds of civil rights activists, poor and low-wage workers, and dozens of faith leaders from all over the country came to Washington to say: "no, no more."
They participated in the Moral March to Washington D.C.—answering the call of the Poor People's Campaign to demand that Congress pass a Build Back Better plan. Build Back Better is a social policy bill that includes expanding Medicare and providing support for universal prekindergarten and child care.
For the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the UUA, the most critical issue on the agenda is lifting voting rights, establishing a set of protections to confront the tide of voter suppression laws sweeping the nation. Her entire speech underscores that "democracy cannot wait."
Frederick-Gray participated in a rally at Capitol Square, accompanied by over 120 Unitarian Universalists. She addressed the crowd while impacted leaders from 33 states offered dramatic testimonies. Hundreds more joined in a march that took over an intersection at Pennsylvania Avenue to demand Congress to "get it done in 2021."
Over 70 activists, including Frederick-Gray and seven other Unitarian Universalists, also took part in the nonviolent moral direct action on Capitol Hill that followed the rally.
Capitol Police arrested all of them, including Rev. Frederick-Gray and five UU ministers: the Rev. Abhi Janamanchi (Cedar Lane UU Church, Bethesda, Maryland); the Rev. David Carl Olson (First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, Maryland); the Rev. Dr. Elaine Peresluha (First Parish in Portland, Maine), the Rev. Joan Javier-Duval (Unitarian Church of Montpelier, Vermont), and the Rev. Robin Tanner (Beacon UU Congregation in Summit, New Jersey). Capitol Police also arrested Paige Bacon, a lay leader of First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, Maryland, and Sarah Garner-Svec of the UU Church of Lawton, Oklahoma.
It is not the first time UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray has been arrested due to her Unitarian Universalist commitment to the Poor People’s Campaign.
"The people who have kept this country going during a pandemic are coming to the nation's capital to insist that we can't go on without an investment in them," said Bishop William J. Barber II, who is a PPC co-chair and led the rally.