Challenging Racism and Mass Incarceration

Every Sunday, members of our Committee to End the New Jim Crow (CENJC) lead a Black Lives Matter demonstration along Pennsylvania Avenue after worship. All are welcome to join our weekly show of love, which has become a joyful moment for the community, when many drivers and passersby wave, honk, and shout words of appreciation (along with the rare expression of disagreement). All are invited to come outside with us and experience 15 minutes of celebrating the diversity of our South Lansing community.

The CENJC accepts donations of used books for inmates and prison or jail visitors on selected Sunday mornings. Please bring your extra paperbacks (no hardcover) or purchase a couple from our Grove Street Book Shop just off the Atrium at church. This is a way for us to provide inmates and their visitors with knowledge, quiet entertainment, and spiritual enrichment through reading during a difficult time in their lives.

The 2018 schedule of book collections is:

January 7: Gently used soft and hardcover books for infants and children up to age 10 and paperbacks only for teens and adults are appreciated. Especially welcomed are mysteries, westerns, self-help, non-fiction and spiritual paperbacks. All books will be delivered to juvenile centers, jails, and prisons for the welfare of the recipients.

April 8

July 8

October 7

The CENJC is part of the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration, which occasionally holds events and meetings at our church.

The CENJC raises funds for prisoner and family advocacy organizations, demonstrates and meets with legislators to influence state policies, and presents educational programs to the congregation and wider community. The group also hosts lectures, discusses books (such as the group's namesake, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a Common Read of the Unitarian Universalist Association), and provides space in our church building for support meetings for families of the incarcerated.

On Sunday, January 21, at 6:00 p.m., we will partner with the Racial Equity and Transformation Workgroup of the Power of We (Ingham County Human Services Collaborative) on a documentary film night and facilitated discussion. The Workgroup's mission is
To disrupt racism fundamentally on the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels so that you can no longer predict access to power, wealth, privilege, or meaning based on race.

The mission of the CENJC is to end mass incarceration through both education and action. We wish to educate ourselves and others about the ways in which the criminal justice system in the United States perpetuates racial and economic hierarchies. We wish to contribute to efforts to change laws, policies, and programs that created mass incarceration including, but not limited to, harsh sentencing laws, drug laws, racial profiling practices, zero tolerance policies in schools, and policies that deny the rights of former felons and limit their ability to successfully reenter society. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe the punitive turn that has occurred in the U.S. criminal justice system over the past several decades is inconsistent with our principle of the worth and dignity of all people.

The Collaborative meets at our church and is made up of over 20 statewide organizations and a greater number of individuals.

For more information, contact co-chairs Sharon Monod or Judith Rowell-DeVaney.  

Find contact information in the directory available at church.