Reflecting on HKonJ

A year ago–almost exactly a year ago–my spouse Ry and I visited North Carolina. We were living in Providence, RI at the time and we came here because Ry was considering a family medicine residency at Duke University Medical Center and I was trying to see if there was a place for me here in North Carolina. On Saturday, the residency program invited us to join the family medicine doctors at this big annual rally in Raleigh called HKonJ. They said: “You can’t miss us. We’ll all be standing together in our white coats.”

I was a huge fan of the Moral Monday movement and Rev. Barber, so we were excited to go. And when we go there we started looking for the white coats and, when we found them, this amazing thing happened. We realized that to the left of all the Duke doctors, were all of you.

All of the UUs in the state. In a huge sea of people, the fact that our groups were shoulder to shoulder was a level of coincidence I almost couldn’t believe. We met folks from Greensboro, and Boone and all over – and you welcomed us and invited us to lunch afterwards.

One of the very first people I met was John Saxon, who gave me his card and told me that if we moved here he would help me find my place in this work. Well that certainly turned out to be true!

What I’m getting at is this, not only did you welcome us into this community and into this work, but your determination to effect change was inspiring.

We flew back to Rhode Island that night both knowing that we wanted to be a part of this.

This day, for the fourteenth straight year, for HKonJ–what some call the pinnacle of the justice year here in North Carolina where people from across the state come together to rise up against injustice and hate and greed in this world.

On this day, we gather with a shared vision that another world is possible–and that with love and courage and imagination we can will that world into existence.

And yet, if this day is the pinnacle of the justice year here in North Carolina, then we are not doing this right.

If this is the one day of the year when we UU’s work together, shoulder to shoulder for justice, then we are not doing our faith right.

This is not the mountain top, this is base camp: where we develop the muscle memory of movement and change and strengthen the belief, deep in our bones, that the tipping point is on the horizon.

The power of HKonJ–the virtue of this gathering–lies in what we do next.

Lisa Garcia Sampson
Executive Director
UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina

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