You are here

Social Justice and Outreach

Blog category: 

      There have been lively discussions in the Reproductive Justice sessions. Thanks to everyone that participated.

      Together Baton Rouge, which we are a member church, has begun an initiative called “We The People”. It is an effort to group our membership into metro districts. That way we as constituents can speak as a group directly to our metro council member about issues that we identify in our house meetings. We would like to invite our council members to one of our house meetings to meet some of the people living in their district. If you would like more information about when and where you council district is meeting you can contact Bobby Thompson at numbernine@cox.net or 225 939-1564

       Dialogue on Race will start May 31 and run through July 5, 6:30pm in Room 1 off the Fellowship Hall.  For more information Bobby Thompson at numbernine@cox.net or 225 939-1564

       Our Shared Offering this month goes to - Louisiana Environmental Action Network. The purpose of LEAN is to foster cooperation and communication between individual citizens and corporate and government organizations in an effort to assess and mend the environmental problems in Louisiana. LEAN's goal is the creation and maintenance of a cleaner and healthier environment for all of the inhabitants of this state. For nearly 30 years LEAN has fought to safeguard not just Louisiana’s scenic beauty, wildlife and culture but more importantly those underserved citizens that don’t have a voice. Louisiana Environmental Action Network P.O. Box 66323 Baton Rouge, LA 70896 or 162 Croyodon Ave. Baton Rouge, LA 70806

      Our next Social Justice Team meeting August 21 12:45pm.                       Bobby Thompson, Social Justice Director, June 1, 2016

      This month's Outreach column takes a slight turn from outreach activities to spotlight The Reverend Albert D'Orlando, who played a major role in the founding of our church and was a staunch fighter against racism and leader for social justice during his ministry at First Unitarian Church in New Orleans.  Rev. D'Orlando became a part of our church's history in the late 1940s when he drove from New Orleans once a month to meet at the Channing Club on the LSU campus with students and others interested in finding a place for liberal religion in Baton Rouge. He was present when sixteen would-be Unitarians held their first meeting at the Heidelberg Hotel in downtown Baton Rouge in the fall of 1951, five of whom would sign the charter establishing the Unitarian Fellowship of Baton Rouge.  He served as the Fellowship's mentor and guide and provided part-time ministerial service for seven of the Fellowship's formative years and maintained his connection to our church to the end of his ministry.  The D'Orlando Oak, planted in his honor, stands near the RE Wing and has grown along with our church as a fitting tribute to his role in our history.

      A native of Boston, Rev. D'Orlando began his ministry in 1950 at First Unitarian Church, later First Unitarian Universalist Church, and shortly after his arrival in New Orleans he moved to integrate his church on Jefferson Avenue, which became virtually the only place in New Orleans where whites and blacks could meet together.  In 1956 he helped found the Louisiana Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and in 1958 he was ordered to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee on false accusations.  Beginning in 1960 under his leadership his church would figure largely in raising funds and in involvements to desegregate the New Orleans public schools, lunch counters, and public facilities.   When two youths from his church were arrested and charged with criminal mischief and anarchy for sitting with black youths at a lunch counter and found guilty, their convictions were thrown out when the church raised money to appeal the case to the Supreme Court through Rev. D'Orlando's leadership.  Along with other involvements, including the church's providing financial assistance to white families who decided to send their children to schools with black children, the church paid expenses for a New Orleans lawyer to represent civil rights workers in Mississippi.  His many involvements in civil rights activities resulted in many threats to himself and his family, and at mid-night in March 1965 his home was fire-bombed as he wrote the sermon he planned to deliver the next day condemning similar bombings in Mississippi. The front of his Jefferson Avenue church was destroyed by dynamite two months later. The church later relocated to its present location at Jefferson and South Claiborne Avenues.

       Reverend D'Orlando was recognized by awards from the Unitarian Fellowship of Social Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union for his lifelong work for social justice. He retired as minister of First UU Church in 1981, but continued his activities in civil rights causes until his death in 1998.     Our minister, the Reverend Steve Crump, delivered the eulogy at his services at the church he served with the courage of his conviction "that faith means nothing if you don't put your beliefs into action."       Rebecca Cureau, Outreach Director, June 1, 2016