Ray Wiedmeyer, Beloved Community Communications Team
Much was heavy on their hearts when Unity Church member Clover Earl and her longtime friend Danette McCarthy met for lunch after the murder of George Floyd and the uprising that followed. Danette’s daughter lives not far from the George Floyd Global Memorial, known as George Floyd Square, and she pondered the distance between the Square and the State Capitol, Minnesota History Center, and St Paul Cathedral. To confirm her inkling, she drove the distance and found it to be just about nine miles. Just a coincidence perhaps, but nine minutes was the amount of time that George Floyd was held under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer before he died. In Danette’s words, “There are these structures, these symbols of power and history, mostly white, and they are nine miles away from the square.”
Danette’s career in pulling people together through the arts made her ponder what we needed to do to get “square” with our history in which government and church helped codify white supremacy. This led her to the idea of pilgrimage, the idea of walking from one place to the other; a practice she had never embarked upon before. Eventually she would take that walk, that personal pilgrimage of nine miles to see what it would offer. And in her chat with Clover that morning, the idea of personal pilgrimage began to germinate into something much more.
Clover, who had been on Unity Church pilgrimages to Boston and Transylvania to learn of our Unitarian history, knew something of pilgrimage. She saw pilgrimage as a chance to move into a new experience with an open mind and an open heart to seek new understandings. In her words, “over time, we began to see our work together to find clarity and strength as our own pilgrimage of sorts and that we might move that out into the world... and from there the idea of a white folk’s pilgrimage grew.”
They both know that white folks have work to do. But how to move from reading/talking about white privilege and antiracism to a place of deeper understanding? Perhaps a pilgrimage from the places of white comfort (the Capitol, Cathedral, History Center) to a place of Black resistance (George Floyd Square) would be a chance to dig a little deeper. The walk they imagine will give one the opportunity to reflect internally, to process with fellow walkers, and to think more deeply about our own actions for creating a more just world.
Clover and Danette now invite you to a shared pilgrimage called “Hey, White People: A Journey” to walk the nine miles from the Minnesota Capitol to George Floyd Square on Saturday, May 21. There will be four stops on this pilgrimage: the Rondo Commemorative Plaza, the Mississippi River, the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct, and George Floyd Square. In between there will be time to chat, or moments to just ponder the path we are on and the path we all want to create.
The walk will begin at 8:00 a.m. and end around 1:00 p.m. at George Floyd Square. Clover and Danette have asked the Protectors of the Square, a self-appointed safety/security group, how we might best respect the place that has become sacred space to so many. The Protectors will be there to welcome walkers and may share some thoughts with the gathering.
All are welcome on this journey... this pilgrimage. For more details, please visit the Hey, White People, We Have Work to Do! website at www.heywhitepeople.org.
A final thought in Danette’s words, “This is part of our work to do in reckoning how to be part of change. It’s one thing to say you want it…but for me feeling it in my bones and my body seems to be a critical part of making that commitment to live the way that I need to live to heal personally and to help others. I don’t know that I have the words for it yet — maybe they will come.”
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Beloved Community Resources
Unity Justice Database
Team Dynamics House of Intersectionality
Anti-Racism Resources in the Unity Libraries Collection
Creative Writers of Color in Unity Libraries
The History of Race Relations and Unity Church, 1850-2005
Beloved Community Staff Team
The Beloved Community Staff Team (BCST) strengthens and coordinates Unity’s antiracism and multicultural work, and provides opportunities for congregants and the church to grow into greater intercultural competency. We help the congregation ground itself in the understanding of antiracism and multiculturalism as a core part of faith formation. We support Unity’s efforts to expand our collective capacity to imagine and build the Beloved Community. Here, we share the stories of this journey — the struggles, the questions, and the collaborations — both at Unity and in the wider world.
The current members of the Beloved Community Staff Team include Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Rev. KP Hong, Barbara Hubbard, Drew Danielson, Laura Park, Rev. Karen Gustafson, Angela Wilcox, Pauline Eichten, and Erika Sanders.