Ten Years of Black Lives Matter: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Ten Years of Black Lives Matter: Looking Back and Moving Forward

A selection of UU World Black Lives Matter stories from the past ten years.

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Artists at The Sanctuaries cut out stencils to spray paint posters for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Artists at The Sanctuaries cut out stencils to spray paint posters for the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016.

© Erik Martínez Resly


July 13, 2023, marked the ten-year anniversary of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and international human rights campaign. BLM was born from the response to the acquittal on second-degree murder charges of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old. The movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which went viral across social media.

In the years both before and after the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, countless Black lives have been lost as a result of violence, police brutality, and systemic racism. Unitarian Universalist values are grounded in the eradication of violence, systemic racism, and white supremacy culture. Since the inception of Black Lives Matter, UU World has reflected those values through numerous articles and essays about the movement and broader cultural shifts.

As we mark ten years of the Black Lives Matter movement, we know there is still much work ahead. We must continue to look inward and outward as UUs and ensure that the work we do continues to fight for justice and to eradicate racism, police brutality, and violence against BIPOC people.

Here is a selection of UU World work from a decade of Black Lives Matter reflecting Unitarian Universalists’ connection to the movement:

Looking Back

The Next Selma” (2015)

Former UU World Senior Editor Kenny Wiley pens a powerful personal piece about taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in early 2015 in Denver, Colorado. Wiley reflects on his protest involvement and ponders how Black Lives Matter challenges the mission and work of Unitarian Universalists.

Universalism in Practice” (2015)

Adapted from a 2014 sermon, Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd shares her thoughts on practicing Universalism while supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

GA Talk: #BlackLivesMatter is Inevitable Conclusion” (2015)

During the 2015 General Assembly session “#BlackLivesMatter is Inevitable Conclusion,” session speakers Amanda Weatherspoon and Kenny Wiley gave moving speeches that examined the modern practices of Unitarian Universalism in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Five Ways to Support Black Lives Matter” (2015)

Five ways Unitarian Universalists can show up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

UUA Board of Trustees Commits $5.3 Million to Black Lives of UU” (2016)

This article captures a historic moment in Unitarian Universalism. Fundraising for the commitment was successfully completed in 2019.

Altar” (2016)

After vandals threw a cinder block through her office window, Rev. Suzanne Redfern Campbell used it to create an altar.

UUs at Dallas Protest Say It Was Peaceful until Shooter Began Firing” (2016)

Three Unitarian Universalists were at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest before a sharpshooter began targeting police officers at the protest in Dallas, Texas, in 2016.

What Churches Learn When They Proclaim Black Lives Matter”(2016)

Predominately white congregations reflect on the pushback and vandalism they experience for affirming Black Lives Matter.

Congregations Reaffirm Commitments to Black Lives Matter” (2020)

Senior Editor Elaine McArdle writes about how three Unitarian Universalist congregations across the country were targeted by police and right-wing protesters due to the congregations' support of Black Lives Matter.

Racist or Antiracist” (2023)

An excerpt of a speech delivered by noted author and activist Ibram X. Kendi at UC Berkeley in 2019, republished by UU World. Kendi explores the American sociopolitical landscape through the lens of racism, denial, and antiracism.

Looking Back: Black Lives Matter through Pictures