The Racial Justice Coordinating Committee (RJCC) works to help First Parish more fully live up to our mission of being welcoming to all and challenging the excesses and injustices of our time.
First Parish, as part of settler colonial West Cambridge/Arlington, played a role in slavery and in the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people. First Parish is committed to Reckoning with this past and is seeking to Repair these two tragic assaults on humanity.
The two steps we want to take together are a Statement on enslavement and a Land Acknowledgement. But first, we want to listen to all congregants as we all continue to learn more about this history.
RJCC sponsored events:
Learning and Listening sessions
March 12, April 16, May 14 in the sanctuary after Sunday service 11:30-12:45 (hybrid)
“Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North” movie
March 20th 7-9 PM (zoom) and March 26th 11:30AM (Bailey Room)
Our own backyard:
History, Slavery, and First Parish
Read more in the March Spire Article “Reckoning and Repair”
|The Jason Russell House and Smith Museum, Arlington. Jason Russell, one of First Parish’s founding members, enslaved a woman named Kate from infancy until her death.||The Old Burying Ground, site of numerous 18th and 19th Century marked graves, but also an unmarked mass grave where enslaved persons were buried.||1770 assessor’s record for town of Menotomy listing property of residents. Note the documentation of numbers of slaves as property.|
To Create Beloved Community and Build a Better Future
that is Rooted in Justice and Inspired by Love,
we must Break Past Silences and Honestly Name our Congregation’s
Involvement with the Institution of Slavery.
When residents of the Northwest Cambridge Precinct built our Meetinghouse in the early eighteenth century, it was legal for white colonists to enslave kidnapped Africans.
More than half of our congregation’s sixteen founding membersenslaved black and brownpeople, relying on their labor to bolster their wealth.
For example, one of our founding members and major financier, Jason Russell, enslaved a woman named Kate in his home from the time of her infancy to her death.
While history has celebrated the Russell family, Kate and other enslaved people have been ignored. In fact there is significant evidence that she and others are buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Burying Ground.
For years, the violence of slavery was perpetrated.Then it was excused, the history whitewashed, and truths buried. Kate’s story is but one of many.
As a liberal religious congregation,
our commitment to
RECKONING & REPAIR
aligns with our mission to challenge injustice.
Called to love, and upheld by joy – we aspire to live our faith.
The First Parish library has about 40 new books on a variety of racial justice themes. They are here for you to borrow; just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange a drop off or pickup. Here’s a small sample of the new offerings….
Note: This section of the website is still evolving. Please watch this space as we identify more resources in the near future.
RJCC would love to hear from you with ideas, suggestions, and questions. Email us at: email@example.com