The United Church of Christ's national racial justice expert will help emcee an "action summit" declaring racism a public health crisis and marking the arrival of enslaved Africans in North America 400 years ago.
The Rev. Velda Love, D.Min., minister for racial justice with Justice and Local Church Ministries, will emcee the keynote session of "400 Years of Inequity: A Call to Action" at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at Cleveland Public Auditorium. The keynote speaker will be Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson, author of "The Warmth of Other Suns."
The national summit, sponsored by YWCA Greater Cleveland and First Year Cleveland, an organization fighting infant mortality, runs through Saturday afternoon, Nov. 9. UCC members and congregations are invited to register at this link. It is one of many observances around the country marking the 1619 arrival of enslaved Africans at what is now Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Va.
"For churches that can participate, it will be a valuable opportunity to mark 400 years of inequality," Love said. She said she is eager for the audience to hear Wilkerson's narrative of the Great Migration from the South, the Jim Crow era and other aspects of history that have shaped African Americans' experience and struggles.
Love, author of the UCC's Sacred Conversations to End Racism curriculum, noted that she is also part of a First Encounter Committee being formed in the UCC to mark another significant 400th anniversary: the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. With leadership from New England – including Connecticut Conference Minister Kent Siladi and local churches there – the committee will aim for a "broad and inclusive" narrative shaped by indigenous and people-of-color participants as well as others.