On the eve of the weekend commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom, United Church of Christ congregations and pastors in D.C. are looking to engage the community in a sacred conversation on race, and to gather with the spirit and sound of jazz music.
The Rev. Carolyn Boyd, minister of organizational development at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., is one of the panelists for a town hall event on Friday, Aug. 22. The discussion — hosted by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company — is part of a presentation of "From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: A Town Hall Meeting on Black Bodies and American Racism." The town hall meeting — a combination of interfaith prayer, panel discussions and group conversations — will help community members discuss and seek answers on racism in today's society.
"We've been working with the theatre and promoting it, and we're inviting the church to be a part of it," said Boyd. She is joined on the panel by Louisa Davis, activist and adjunct professor of religion and ethics at Montgomery College; Dennis B. Rogers, assistant professor of political science at Bowie State University; and Woolly company members Dawn Ursula and Jessica Frances Dukes.
"We think it's import to have community engagement at the center of issues that affect the congregation, and the surrounding community, as a whole," added Boyd. "It's not only what we can talk about, but what are the solutions, and how we can affect policy and the day-to-day lives of people affected by gun violence?"
Jocelyn Prince, of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and the panel's moderator, told the Washington Post the event is meant to provide "a safe, communal space" for the D.C. community to talk about "the issues that this case has brought to the forefront: racial profiling here in D.C., the criminal justice system and how it relates to young black men in particular."
One of the potential solutions to race-relations is the Hannah Mother's Campaign. Boyd is working to get Plymouth Congregational UCC behind the campaign, which she described as a spiritual movement for women to ignite Civil Rights reform by asking people to be prayerful on issues of racism. The campaign seeks to promote, protect and empower black and brown men and boys.
People's Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. will mark the50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on Sunday morning, Aug. 25, hosting its annual Jazz Worship Service. The service begins at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary, and a reception begins after the service in the congregation's fellowship hall. People's Congregational UCC is located at 4704 13th Street, NW Washington D.C., 20011.
As a denomination with a historic commitment to civil rights and racial justice, the UCC is taking part in the Anniversary March during the coming week in our nation's capital, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Members of the denomination are planning to participate in a march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 24, and at an interfaith memorial service at the MLK Memorial on Wednesday, Aug. 28, followed by a ticketed event at 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial, "Let Justice Ring."
The UCC Washington office is extending an extravagant welcome to all members to gather as they are able in our nation's capital for the commemoration of the event and a commitment to continue to advocate for equal rights for all. For the Saturday march, interested church folk should gather in the area around the Lincoln Memorial near the corner of 17th and Constitution Ave. at 9 a.m. on Aug. 24. (Follow the sidewalk along the edge of the World War II Memorial to the beginning of the Reflecting Pool. The UCC delegation will be in the grassy, hilly area just above the sidewalk at the start of the Reflecting Pool — the side closest to Constitution Ave. Look for large UCC banners.)