Undoing Racism Committee

We are a long-standing committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair whose goal is to work with our congregation and the wider community to develop, strengthen and act upon anti-racist, multicultural perspectives through worship services, educational programs, lectures, book & film discussions, other cultural events, and community involvement.

The goal of the Undoing Racism Committee is to give UUCM members and friends the opportunity to act on their commitments to racial justice. We work closely with the UU Legislative Ministry of NJ and seek guidance from the UU Association. Through self-examination and learning, we are able to act with more direction and impact.

Jane Gaertner serves as chair. For information, contact uucmurc@gmail.com.

The Undoing Racism Committee (URC) thanks everyone involved in the planning of our Women’s History Month event which was canceled. We hope to reschedule but for now, we thank those who contributed so many hours and thought into that event.

We ask everyone to learn wisdom and resilience from women of color during Women’s History Month. This link is from 2015 when UUA Women of Color commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma.  Thank you all once more.


The URC wishes to let you know that we hope to put the book discussion: White Fragility Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, into a Zoom online meeting format.  Please stay tuned, and we hope you will consider joining us to learn how the system of racism shapes our lives, how we uphold that system, and how we can change it.  

 If you have questions, or would like to assist with this program, email Jane Gaertner at uucmurc@gmail.com.

Racism As I See It

Submitted by Jane Gaertner and Anneliese Scherfen on behalf of the Undoing Racism Committee

Mass incarceration, lack of universal health care or good parental leave laws, “this is all the legacy of racism and slavery and it’s hurting everyone,” said Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the NYTimes “1619 Project” (https://pulitzercenter.org/sites/default/files/full_issue_of_the_1619_project.pdf ) at a recent NJPAC event. Her focus is the centrality of slavery to the United States of America. This year marks 400 years since the first enslaved people were brought to the shores of what is now the United States of America. The Undoing Racism Committee coordinated with a variety of community groups to commemorate this solemn anniversary, with a vision to work for a Just Future. The September film series linked legacy of enslavement to the disparities in the current criminal justice system. Dionne Ford spoke at the Montclair Public Library about Slavery’s Descendants, her book with stories of reconciliations and reparations. The Montclair History Center held a tour focused on Montclair’s African American history. We held a rally, march & play on October 24th. Andrea McChristian of New Jersey Institute for Social Justice asked the crowds to join NJISJ to work to close New Jersey’s youth prisons, restore the voting rights of current and formerly incarcerated, and demand reparative justice in New Jersey. Montclair State University students, alum, and NAACP Collegiate Chapter members staged a powerful reading of a short play based on 1882 NY Times interviews of two people born into slavery in New Jersey. The reading was followed by a panel discussion that centered on the not so distant history of slavery in New Jersey. 

Progress Towards a Just Future also includes intersectional work with the LGBTQ community.  The final program in our 400 years series presented Rev. Dr. Traci C. West, activist scholar, on how do we address methods of achieving anti-racist solidarity and ending gender violence, and how do we expand our work and be held accountable?  These are but a few moments looking back and looking forward. The work is still needed, the work continues.

Proud of Township Proclamation- Undoing Racism Committee and Social Justice Coalition
On October 29th, through work with the Undoing Racism Committee and others, Montclair Township issued a proclamation (tinyurl.com/400-years-proclamation) recognizing 400 Years of Inequality. Thanks to Eileen Birmingham, Johanna Foster, Wendy McNeil and Anneliese Scherfen, who worked with the Civil Rights Commission and Dr. Rene Baskerville, 4th Ward council member, to remember the struggles and victories of those Africans and their descendents, as well as the indigenous people of this land whose land was stolen from them. We are grateful that Rev. Scott was present for the proclamation’s reading. Please take a few moments to take cognizance of this event and participate in future events as you can.  You can visit the YouTube link (https://youtu.be/gybBmvuS6Ko ) to see the Montclair Council Meeting excerpt Oct. 29, 2019.

If you would like more information about URC, please email uucmurc@gmail.com

Participating in an immigration rally on June 17, 2018.

Dale Harris (actor), Jessicaa Baskerville (playwright), and Mechi Antoine Brown at “Just As Cruel” rehearsal immediately before staged reading at UUCM on October 24th.
Our event on October 24, 2019: “Just as Cruel,” a staged reading by MSU alum, Jessica Baskerville, which confronts that history, followed by a panel discussion with Jane Elias of of Montclair History Center, MSU professors Dr. Leslie Wilson and Dr. Chris Matthews, and two students from MSU Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP. The thrust of the performance, “Just as Cruel,” hearkens back to history of slavery in New Jersey. The inspiration for the play began when the play’s director, Mechi Antoine Brown, learned about an interview of two people formerly enslaved in Essex County, New Jersey. The interviews was published in the New York Times in 1882. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Ann Tripoldi)

Our November 13, 2019 event, “Intersections: Ending Gender Violence, Finding Anti-Racist Solidarity,” led by Rev. Dr. Tracy C. West (photo courtesy of Mary Moriarty).