The Pledge to End Racism Movement began in Richmond, Virginia in 2015, when a group of people from First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond (First UU) decided that, in the wake of the recent rash of police-related killings around the country, they needed to develop a faith-based response to racism in their community.
As a first step, they elected to adopt a pledge originally developed in 1997, by Jim Rotch, a white attorney from Birmingham, Alabama, which he named The Birmingham Pledge:
THE BIRMINGHAM PLEDGE
I believe that every person has worth as an individual. I believe that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race or color. I believe that every thought and every act of racial prejudice is harmful; if it is my thought or act, then it is harmful to me as well as to others.
Therefore, from this day forward I will strive daily to eliminate racial prejudice from my thoughts and actions. I will discourage racial prejudice by others at every opportunity. I will treat all people with dignity and respect; and I will strive daily to honor this pledge, knowing that the world will be a better place because of my effort.
To make the Pledge relevant to the issues in the Greater Richmond Region, the team at First UU in Richmond renamed it The Richmond Pledge to End Racism and added one line to the Pledge, which states:
I will commit to working with others to transform the Greater Richmond region into a place that treats people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures with justice, equity, and compassion.
Living the Pledge to End Racism
After a couple hundred people signed the Pledge in Richmond, it became obvious to the organizing team that more than signing a Pledge was needed to make a substantial impact on racism. They decided to design a twelve-hour curriculum to teach people how to incorporate the Pledge into their daily life.
This curriculum, called Living the Pledge to End Racism, emphasizes the need for each person to make a real commitment to doing substantive work to end racism. The primary goal of Living the Pledge is to develop confidence in talking with others about race and racism and confronting systemic racism wherever it exists.
Spreading the Pledge Beyond Richmond
It wasn’t long before other Unitarian Universalist congregations became interested in bringing the Pledge and the Living the Pledge curriculum to their communities. In 2016, First UU of Richmond started to develop partnerships with other congregations and taught them to implement The Pledge to End Racism. Currently, congregations in sixteen cities in ten states around the country have developed or are in the process of developing a program in their communities, with more coming.
The following congregations currently have or are developing Pledge to End Racism programs in their respective cities:
First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, CA
Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, FL
Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North, GA
Eliot Unitarian Chapel – Kirkwood, MO
Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, NY
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, NC
• First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, OH
• Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, OH
• First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, TN
• Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oakridge, TN
• First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, VA
• Unitarian Church of Norfolk/Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists
• Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA
• Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Glen Allen, VA
• Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Blacksburg, VA
• Unitarian Universalists of Williamsburg, VA
For More Information
If you’d like more information about how to bring The Pledge to End Racism to your community or connect with one of the groups who is already working on the Pledge, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the Contact Us form at https://richmondpledge.org/