Minister’s Message for January 17

On this first day of the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, I remember the day the civil rights movement came to where I lived, the Tri-Cities, in the desert part of Washington.  To my great surprise, it turned out that one of the three, Kennewick, was ‘whites only.”  I hadn’t noticed.  We soon learned that the Movement referred to Kennewick as “the Birmingham of the Northwest.”

My most recent demonstration was the 2019 Women’s March in Geneva last year.  It was a very cold, same as now.  I would join it this year too, but Saturday morning I am helping lead a Prospective Membership Orientation.  My first demonstration, in the spring of 1961, was to protest housing discrimination in Kennewick.  Thirty or so Unitarians, Reform Jews, NAACP, United Nations, and ACLU types got a permit, and paraded down Clearwater Avenue, the main street of Kennewick.

The Freedom Riders were getting beat up in the South.  I was 15, a sophomore in high school and apprehensive.  It turned out I didn’t need to be.  Kennewick may have been lily-white, but it wasn’t anything like Birmingham, Alabama.  A couple of people whistled in derision, and a couple more called out cheerfully to my dad “hey Larry, what the hell ya doin’?”  And that was it.  We re-assembled back at the Community Unitarian church, and talked nervously and excitedly about what we’d just done.

When my mother first read this, she remarked that one of black woman who marched with us that day thanked her and the other church ladies repeatedly for being allowed to use our church’s ladies room.  Apparently this was an uncommon experience for her.  View the movie Green Book for more info on this kind of discrimination.

A little later, the scene shifted across the river to Pasco, which did have black folks.  A lot of the men were working for the railroads.  As part of some civil rights event, I attended my first Services in a black church there, and for the first time knew what it was like to be the only face that looked different from all the others.

There was a young inter-racial couple there, committed to the Movement, engaged to be married.  Observing them, the minister of this black church got to talking with my dad, and asked him if he thought inter-racial marriage would increase once the worst of segregation and discrimination was remedied.  My Dad said he thought it would.  The minister replied he thought it wouldn’t.  He thought these kids were motivated by an idealism that would not often overcome the cultural differences.  I tell you this just because I remember it so clearly—and because, happily, my dad—so wrong about so many things—was right about this.

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Our public website.  I want to offer help to all who desire it, to Login to our website as a Member for the first time, and get special access and powers,* that are not available to non-members.  It’s easy-peasy.  Just go to and drop down the Members tab on the far right of the blue navigation bar, just below our 3-part values statement. * and a cashmere scarf, if you want one.

There you will find, on the 3rd line down, “Website Member Activation!” which will tell you all you need to know.  Your ‘approval’ is already in the system, but you have to use the email address you associate with UUCE. You can then enter your profile information, including adding a photo of yourself that you like.  Soon we will have an online Directory.  

But as soon as you ‘Activate,’ you can submit posts (reviewed by an Editor prior to publishing), set Events, Comment on other’s posts.

For all these actions, there is a QuickGuide for it.  Remember the Members tab on the home page (and other places)?  Go select the last one down (#4) and there you will find help in doing everything you want to do.  Members can post meeting info to Community Connections, and Chairs will find it handy to Post their own Events, (both type of posts subject to Editor review for a while, at least).  Some of you may want to become editors yourself.  Chelsea is doing good things with her Worship->Music Program pages, for instance.

Please don’t hesitate to call.  Both Sheena and I are able to help.

Stay warm, and drive gently.

Rev. Leland

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