Racial Justice Resources


National Resistance Organizations and Coalitions

Cincinnati Justice Groups


  • Michelle Alexander, New Jim Crow

  • Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race

  • Wiliam Barber, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a Justice Movement

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    • Between the World and Me

    • "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration", Atlantic Monthly

  • Cincinnati Urban League, The State of Black Cincinnati 2015 2 Cities

  • Leah Gunning Francis, Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community

  • Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy:  Story of Justice and Redemption

  • Shelly Tochluk, Witnessing Whiteness; The Need to Talk about Race and How To Do It

  • Unted for A Fair Economy: State of teh Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged?  

  • UUA Journey Toward Wholeness Path to Anti-Racism



  • The Color of Fear

  • Hate Crimes in the Heartland

  • 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

  • In My Father's House

  • White Like Me - Tim Wise

  • 13

Television Programs

Patti Digh Hard Conversations Book Reading List 2016

  • The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson

  • Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, Debby Irving

  • Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Kevin Bales

  • Transgender Explained For Those Who Are Not, Joanne Herman

  • Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, Kenji Yoshino

  • The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During WWII, Jan Jarboe Russell

  • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

  • How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America, Moustafa Bayoumi

  • The Tortilla Curtain, T.C. Boyle

  • Yellow: Race in American Beyond Black and White, Frank Wu

  • $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

  • Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Joy DeGruy

  • Colonize This: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism, Daisy Hernandez (editor)

Witnessing Race


Leader: Howard Tolley

Email: howard.tolley@gmail.com

Walk to Stop Executions
Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)

First UU Columbus members are actively involved in their newly started Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter. SURJ members believe racism is still present today and is devastating to people of color and closely intertwined with all systems of oppression. They are "showing up" to take responsibility for this system and to act collectively and publicly to challenge and change the system that robs us all of our humanity.

MISSION: National group for organizing, mobilizing, and educating white people to act with passion and accountability for racial justice.


VISION: We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity, and a sustainable world.

ACTIONS taken to date by Columbus SURJ Chapter: 

  • Demonstrated in July against the killing of Henry Green with the People's Justice Project

  • Interrupted and shut down a Columbus City Council meeting

  • Led a mock funeral procession to the mayor's home

  • Marched to the Courthouse to protest prosecutor's resistance to an independent investigation

  • Sent meaningful letters to the editor about the Black Lives Matter Movement

Want to learn more about SURJ? Read more about the Columbus chapter below.

Columbus SURJ Chapter:

SURJ Columbus is less than a year old and growing rapidly. Here are the mission and vision;


Mission: ​SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi­racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills, and political analysis to act for change. 

Vision: ​We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world. Why We Organize: ​We live in a time of great hope and possibility, yet the potential for a just world for all of us is not possible when racism and oppression keep us divided. This can make us forget how closely connected we truly are. Racism is still present throughout all of our contemporary institutions and structures. Racism is devastating to People of Color and is closely intertwined with all systems of oppression. It robs all of us­ White people and People of Color­ of our humanity. We honor and learn from the long history of People of Color and White people who have been unrelenting in their struggles for racial justice, and ending all systems of oppression. We are showing up to take our responsibility as White people to act collectively and publicly to challenge the manipulation of racist fear by the ruling class and corporate elite. We know that to transform this country we must be part of building a powerful multi­racial majority to challenge racism in all its forms.

Below is a letter to the editor by Stuart Smith which was published recently. This is another way UU's are taking action. 


“Black Lives Matter” is often understood in the white majority community in a negative connotation. But its intent is to call attention to the fact that black lives have historically been marginalized within U.S. culture.

Black African people were forcibly removed from their homeland and treated as commodities within the European free market trade from the 1500s. The American colonies indulged in this trade through the 1800s until our Civil War brought it to an abrupt end. This activity was encouraged and justified by the Christian establishment and sanctioned by naive interpretations of biblical passages.

And there were self-serving judgments that the African black people were “subhuman” and, therefore, could/should be treated as farm-animal property.

Even after the 14th Amendment removed this denial of humanity from the United States’ legal code, shameful infractions of the 14th Amendment emerged, both codified by many states and implicit as “red-lining” agreements within communities; Jim Crow laws became prevalent throughout America.

Remnants of this history are as yet still lodged within minds and policies throughout America. As police and policy personnel are drawn from our population, some percentage still perform out of this history and some percentage of policies have roots in this shameful history.

Policing actions resulting in death can be due to appropriate actions, accidental incidents, aggressive personalities, or ill-conceived policies/laws. The social/cultural/legal difficulty is to sort out the entanglement of these issues. The Black Lives Matter movement goal is to focus attention on this entanglement.

The only way to address these entanglements in “bad outcome” events and to remedy ill-conceived policies and laws is to engage in fully transparent procedures and dialogue. This requires that the mayor, city council, and public prosecutors engage in fully public, transparent actions. Police procedures must reflect a democracy and not a police state. A police state will make civilians “ disappear” with immunity; a democracy will avoid even the appearance that police officers’ bad behavior is privileged.

As demonstrated by our ill-advised invasion of Iraq, even a well-intentioned occupation force will be resisted by the intended beneficiaries. Police policies must reflect respect for the humanity of the community, and then the community will have well-earned respect for policing and its policy makers.

I write as a member of Showing Up for Racial Justice, and as part of the demonstration at the Columbus City Council meeting, the mock funeral march to Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s home, and the march from City Hall to the Franklin County Court House housing Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’B rien’s office."

MeetUp4Justice 2016

Goals: To mobilize UUs statewide seeking racial justice in police practices, employment, education, housing, voting rights, health care, immigration, sentencing, decarceration, and reentry for returning citizens by direct engagement with faith based partners, secular allies, law enforcement agencies, elected officials and candidates. . 

List of Readings, Curricula, Films, TV, and online materials

Children's Picture Books Exploring Race and Racism

 Ohio Police Relations Reports/Agencies.


Ohio Voices for Justice Black Lives Matter Video  


Death Penalty
     UUJO has joined the Ohio Alliance for the Mental Health Exemption (OAMIE) in support of SB 162 that would eliminate the death penalty for the seriously mentally ill.  As the Senate prepares to vote and the House considers a companion bill, let your Representative know that Ohio should not be inflicting the death penalty on individuals with serious mental illnesses by clicking here.
      Ohioans to Stop Executions continues to seek out supportive lawmakers willing to introduce a wrongful convictions bill and a racial justice act based on recommendations of the state's death penalty task force.  Frank R. Baumgartner University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has studied The Impact of Race, Gender, and Geography on Ohio Executions with findings that show extraordinary disparities that must be remedied.



Sample Death Penalty Letter To the Editor and/or Representative:

For contact information and guidelines, see OpEdLtrsGuide9-29-15.


Stop Executions:

I supported the Walk to Stop Execution that arrived at the capitol on Saturday, October 10, because I believe the death penalty is wrong.  There’s no evidence that the death penalty deters crime, capital punishment costs 3 to 5 times more than the cost of incarceration for life, the system has repeatedly sentenced the innocent to death (9 in Ohio), and, rather than the brutality of the crime, race, income, and geography determine who receives a death sentence. 72% of the world’s countries don’t conduct executions, and the U.S. ranks 5th in use of the death penalty after China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. See walktostopexecutions.org for additional facts and join me in supporting proposed abolition measures before the Ohio General Assembly, SB 154 and HB 289.

From: Your Name, Address, Email, Phone


Walk to Stop Executions  October 4-10, 2015  

Abolitionists from Ohio and beyond will walk from the Lucasville prison
where death row inmates are executed to the Statehouse in Columbus.  The
7-day, 83-mile walk will feature evening programs in Portsmouth,
Chillicothe, Circleville, and Columbus for walkers to engage local
communities in conversations about ending capital punishment.


Those unable to participate in the full walk can join the final 2.5-mile
leg, 10 am at 1500 South 4th St. on Saturday October 10, the World Day
Against the Death Penalty, or attend the 12 noon rally at Trinity Episcopal
Church, 125 E. Broad St. across from the Capitol.


For more information about the schedule, walking route, programs,
endorsement or registration, visit walktostopexecutions.org


Police Community Relations in Ohio
UUJO Co-Chair Dan Schneider will speak and present our written recommendations at the Monday March 9 Task Force Hearing scheduled for 4:30 to 8:30 at UC’s Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center Ballroom.  Those unable to speak can voice their feedback on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or You Tube using #beheardohio. UUJOTaskForceStatement3-9-15
The Greater Cleveland Congregations turned out well over a thousand in an event for the people’s views on a forthcoming consent decree to be heard by representatives of the US Justice Department, the Mayor, and local law enforcement.
Puncture the Silence in Cleveland continues to promote direct action and defend those arrested in acts of civil disobedience who protested the police killings of Tamir Rice and Tanisha Anderson.  In support of the national Stop Mass Incarceration Network, PTS endorsed a national shutdown by students and workers on April 14.  #ShutDownA14 Committee. PTS is also organizing a People’s Tribunal on Police Brutality with a panel of respected community members, 12-4 pm, Sat., April 11, Rm.201, Main Classroom Bldg, CSU.
In Southwest Ohio UUs have joined the Ohio Student Association in a die in at the Beavercreek Walmart where the police killed John Crawford. OSA direct action forced the authorities to release the Walmart video under review by the Justice Department after the Xenia Grand Jury failed to indict the officer.
BREAD’s Welcome Columbus committee met with City Council leaders who, without support of the police chief, were unwilling to produce an ordinance to recognize the Matricula Consular as acceptable identification for Mexican immigrants. BREAD needs a strong presence at each of the five Columbus Division of Police Community Meetings to help convince Police Chief Kimberly Jacobs of the value and security of the Matricula Consular.  Contact Alice Rathburn for details.


The Ohio Fair Hiring Act  House Bill 56 

Rep. Kirk Schuring (R, Canton) and Rep. Steve Slesnick (D, Canton) introduced HB 56 in January 2015 so that workers with criminal records would have an easier time getting their feet in the door with public employers.  Government can reinforce redemption and rehabilitation by giving fair consideration to applicants returning from incarceration. State Rep. Nickie Antonio, West Shore UU, is a co-sponsor.  You can read the full bill text and see if your legislator is a co- sponsor here.

Also see the downloadable information fact sheet prepared by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center. OhioFairHiringAct-1pg—2015.02.20


People First Assembly: Our Lives Matter January 22, 2015 Columbus, Ohio

For more info, please view People First Assembly_Our Lives Matter_Letter of Invitation.

  1. Pass the Fair Hiring Act and Improve Access to Jobs

  2. Sentencing Reform to Lower Prison Population

  3. Prioritize Prevention and Rehabilitation in the State Budget

  4. End Zero Tolerance in Schools

  5. Improve Police Accountability and Restore Trust


Register with Ohio Organizing Collaborative and plan to join hundreds from around the state coming to meet with representatives at their statehouse office.  FIGHT for a state budget that values ! EDUCATION, REHABILITATION and REDEMPTION!


One UU Congregation’s Process from Anguish to Action


Legislative Update
Lame Duck:  The secret executions bill, HB 663, passed iand will be challenged in the courts.  “New Law Will Keep Lethal-Injection Drug Suppliers Secret”  Columbus Dispatch. An extremely invasive bill that would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected, HB 248 failed in the House, as did the effort to repeal the Common Core standards. A bill that passed will expand limitations on the use of seclusion rooms and restraints to Ohio charter school students.
January 2015:  UUJO’s Strategic Plan calls for meetings in their home districts with elected lawmakers representing districts where UU congregations support a fair hiring bill, death penalty reform, increased minimum wage, medicaid expansion, protection against fracking and other legislative proposals.  UUJO Economic Justice, Immigration and Criminal/Racial Justice Action Team members in different districts will arrange for several UUs to meeting their representatives at the start of the new General Assembly in order to establish ongoing connections for sharing our concerns and obtaining information we need to be effective.  The UUJO Action Kit enable all to find your congregation’s and/or representatives —  click here.


Death Penalty
UUJO belongs to a coalition that supports legislative implementation of 56 Ohio Death Penalty Task Force recommendations, starting with a ban on the execution of the seriously mentally ill to be introduced early in 2015.  The National Coalition Against the Death Penalty has launched an interfaith campaign for abolition in all 50 states. Article. NCADP online Petition for supporters.   ACLU petition calling for abolition.


URGENT ACTION  What they need to hear NOW

The Ohio General Assembly convenes for a 5 week lame duck session November 12 and will consider two important criminal justice proposals. Learn more here and tell your representative to Get Smart on Crime.


We Who Believe in Freedom: A Vigil for Ferguson Tuesday  November 11, 2014 at 8PM EST sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the UUA, and DRUUMM for a one-hour online vigil.

This live online gathering will be led by UU presenters of color giving voice to the depth of feelings that continue to rise up around escalating inequality—specifically, racial inequality.  This vigil follows on the heels of the recent Mass Mobilization Call to Missouri and of mass vigils across the country.
Attend this vigil to bear witness, to lend support and sanctuary, to offer and receive comfort. Attend this gathering to foster healing within a UU religious context led by UU religious professionals of color.
Presenters are Rev. Maria-Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa, Christopher Sims, Adam Dyer, Rev. Sofia Betancourt, Emerson Zora Hamsa, Gregory Boyd, Duncan Teague, and Dr. Janice Marie Johnson.  To register, contact Lesley Murdock at lmurdock@uua.org.  Log in details will be emailed the day before the event.


Black Lives Matter Central Ohio Alert.  October 2014


The unprovoked police killing of a 22 year old black man, John Crawford, in a Beavercreek WalMart.  Video


The Criminal + Racial Justice Issue Group  will carry forward the four part campaign launched at the UUJO Nov. 2, 2013  Justice Rally on the Capitol steps with a Get Smart on Crime November 8, 2014 rally at 1st UU


The 4 pm UUJO Get Smart on Crime rally co-sponsored by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Ohioans to Stop Executions will draw UUJO partners and allies to 1st UU for a public witness event promoting action on mass incarceration, reentry and the death penalty.  Rally details and Flyer.


August 2014 News

Puncture the Silence-Stop Mass Incarceration plans the October Month of Resistance in Cleveland with a Kick-off Event on Thursday, Aug. 28 at First UU.  RSVP for August 28th. Join the MeetUp website:


U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost has extended until January 15 the moratorium he ordered on executions in Ohio based on concerns about the state’s lethal injection protocol.   In support of a lawsuit brought by the family of Dennis McGuire, a medical expert has condemned his January execution that took 56 minutes as “inhumane” concluding that he suffered “true pain and suffering.”


Toledo activists gathered 13,000 signatures to place on the November ballot a measure calling for legalization of Marijuana.




Task force leader Howard Tolley joined by OMD District Exec Joan Van Becelaere met to discuss death penalty strategy in Columbus on February 4 with State Rep. Nickie Antonio, a member of UU West Shore.


In ongoing collaboration with the ACLU and Ohioans to Stop Executions, the task force is promoting a moratorium following the internationally denounced execution of Dennis McGuire. Contact Gov. John Kasich 614-466-9354 77 South High Street. 30th Fl Columbus, OH 43215


Task force members will join the Ohio Organizing Collaborative/PICO Lifelines to Healingcampaign to move fair hiring bills, promote reentry, get funding for drug treatment, reduce incarceration and gun violence in four target states – California, Louisiana, Florida and Ohio.  March 28 and April 11 two day Bootcamps in Northern and Southern Ohio will train local leaders.


Task force members will also contribute to the March 15 “Building a Movement for Justice” Cleveland workshop and meetings organized by People of Color and Allies for Racial Equality.


UUJO will offer scholarships for prospective statewide task force leaders on other priorities – immigration, LGBT, economic  justice and reproductive rights – to receive training as community organizers.  See the calendar below for upcoming leadership bootcamps and OOC summer weekly training and contact UUJO if interested.


Reentry Forum
Public Safety, Public Health, Prosperous Communities  Thursday April 18, 2013 from 9:00 to 11:30 AM  Ohio Statehouse – Atrium 1 Capitol Square Columbus, OH 43215
At this legislative briefing, panels of national and local experts will examine the national and statewide significance of recent Ohio sentencing and reentry reforms.
A briefing and conversation between legislative, community, philanthropic, and research leaders hosted by the Ohio Justice & Policy Center and The Sentencing Project and promoted by the AMOS project. A unique conversation & policy forum  featuring Marc Mauer from the Sentencing Project, Cecelia Klingele from the University of Wisconsin, and faith leaders, returning citizens, employers and legislators.  Registration.

The event is sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, Sen. Shirley Smith, Representative Ross McGregor, and Representative Tracy Heard, the sponsors of the bi-partisan collateral sanction reform bill, SB 337.  Mass Incarceration in America is taking a heavy toll on families, communities, and state budgets. In the last few years, Ohio has taken action to decrease prison populations and open employment opportunity for the 1.9 million returning citizens in Ohio (people with felony and / or misdemeanor convictions). There is still much work to be done: racial disparities still riddle the entire criminal justice process, formal and informal employment barriers still remain, and the impacts on families are significant factors for poverty and health disparities.

The challenges facing Ohioians caused by mass incarceration are immense. Already, Ohio spends around $1 billion dollars on incarceration, leaving little room in the state budget to support drug treatment, prevention and rehabilitation. In America, about 1 in 30 children have at least one parent in jail or prison. When people return to their community from incarceration, their ability to earn good wages plummets by 40%. This creates economic and family stress that undermine education and healthy living.