Follen erected its banner in 2017.

Follen’s Racial and Economic Justice Group (REJG) is guided by its mission statement:

We work within Follen and in the broader community to advance racial, economic, and social justice. We challenge racism in all its forms. We strive for Beloved Community. We support and collaborate with the UU Urban Ministry and other groups with shared values to educate, advocate, and serve

Racism operates in ways large and small around us and in us. Taking action to dismantle it is both an urgent and daunting undertaking. REJG is a community of support for people working for change, wherever they are in their understanding and aspirations.

REJG works to provide Follen with spiritual and practical resources for addressing injustices that are both historic and evergreen in the United States. Examples include ongoing support for the vital work of the UU Urban Ministry (UUUM) in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood and relationships with local organizations committed to antiracism and positive change.

Please email REJG rej@follen.org to find out more about our work, available antiracist resources at Follen, and how to get involved. Join us!

What We Do

Social justice work at Follen has long been intertwined with the UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST URBAN MINISTRY (UUUM), a non-sectarian, nonprofit, social justice organization supported by Boston-area UU congregations. UUUM’s mission pledges: We work across race and place to dismantle racism and white supremacy culture and to advance racial, economic, and social justice. 

The work of the UUUM currently focuses in three areas: Safer shelter and workforce development programming for survivors of domestic violence; academic enrichment for Boston-area youth of color; and arts and humanities and other programming grounded in social justice.

REJG is committed to supporting the UUUM’s programs and to encouraging congregational engagement and financial support. Learn more in this 2022 sermon given at Follen by UUUM Senior Minister and Executive Director Rev. Mary Margaret Earl. It offers education, wisdom, and inspiration.

We UNCOVER THE HISTORY OF ENSLAVEMENT in our area, working with the Lexington Historical Society to publicize the story of slavery in colonial times, and with the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington to make known the contributions of Black Lexingtonians through creation of a Black Heritage Trail.

The FOLLEN ANTIRACISM BOOK GROUP has been meeting on the third Sunday evening of the month since 2015 to explore a range of issues. Contact the group’s coordinator (antiracismbookgroup@follen.org) or check Follen’s newsletter for more information. You are welcome to drop in at any time!

We have facilitated LEARNING AVENUES to greater understanding. Examples are organizing a public panel discussion on raising antiracist children, offering UUA courses for Follenites, assisting in adult ed “Food for Thought” programs, film series, and much more. This will continue.

In Follen’s ELIZA CABOT FOLLEN LIBRARY, we have helped build an extensive selection of books dealing with racism and justice for borrowing; you can explore the catalog online. Here are just a few of the titles REJG members have found especially compelling.

Baldwin, J. Notes of a Native Son

Coates, T. Between the World and Me

Harvey, J. Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America

Kendi, I. How to Be an Antiracist

Oluo, I. So You Want to Talk About Race

Wilkerson, I. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Finally, we RAISE MONEY for organizations doing work that advances racial, economic, and social justice. One example is the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which we support through their annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace. Here are some other organizations to consider.

REJG Has Deep Roots

Learning and teaching about racism and acting to effect change has long been an urgent and spiritual goal for many Follenites. REJG consolidates and continues the decades-long work of two former ministries at Follen, the Urban Ministry Congregational Team and Follen Responds to Racism. We continue to draw on the legacy of Charles and Eliza Follen and the role models among us now, and support one another as we move forward in hope.

Much has happened in the past; here are a few highlights.

  • In May 2017 the congregation affirmed a resolution challenging us to put our faith into action and to “being an intentionally and proactively antiracist congregation and supporting the racial justice goals of the broadly based Black Lives Matter movement, as consistent with our Unitarian Universalist principles.”
  • In 2017 we dedicated our Black Lives Matter banner in front of the church. Read Black Lives Matter: What Our Banner Means to Us.
  • In spring 2023 we affirmed the Eighth Principle, joining a national UU grassroots movement calling on the Unitarian Universalist Association to centralize love as the UU spiritual foundation in a new Article II.
  • We researched, wrote, and funded a pamphlet on enslavement in colonial Lexington for distribution at the town’s Visitors Center, and update it as needed to ensure it reflects the latest research.