Why Black Lives Matter

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Together We Rise: Building Bridges for Justice invites you to join us for our upcoming event, “Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice,” a vigil and teach-in that will explore the concept “Why Black Lives Matter: Racial Injustice and The Path Forward.”

On Saturday, July 14, our weekly Vigil, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM at Two Wrasslin’ Cats, 374 Town Street, East Haddam (junction of Routes 82 and 151), will be held in memoriam of Sandra Bland and the outrageous treatment she suffered, which culminated in her unnecessary death in a Texas jail.  The vigil will include music, poetry, and speakers.

The main speaker at the vigil will be the Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr., who is a co-founder, with his wife Pamela Selders, of Moral Monday CT and the Poor Peoples’ Campaign Connecticut. Both organizations gather voices in the struggle for freedom and justice for black and brown people. Rev. Selders is an ordained minister serving in the United Church of Christ, and is the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT. He is a former Associate College Chaplain and the current Assistant Dean of Students at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. For 15 years, he served as Executive Director of Zezzo House (an 18 unit housing project) in Hartford, CT. Moral Monday CT, a grassroots statewide organization, is committed to a wide range of social justice issues. It was started in response to the Reverend Doctor William Barber’s Moral Monday movement in North Carolina in which the recent restrictions on voting rights was a focus. In 2018, Rev. Selders co-founded the new Poor Peoples Campaign-CT, which is rooted in the social justice and civil rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, whose original Poor People’s Campaign was formed in 1968 with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The vigil will be followed by a workshop and conversation, where we will discuss the historical basis of Racial Injustice in this country, and how we can consciously, socially, and politically effect change.  The workshop and conversation portion of the program will take place at St Stephens Church, 31 Main Street, East Haddam, from 11:30 AM-1:30 PM, and will be led by Rachel Spears, who is a Visitor Center Coordinator at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.  In addition to giving interactive tours about Stowe’s life, she is a facilitator in the award-winning Salons at Stowe program series, which provide hour long discussions on relevant social and political issues, and she recently began a Words that Changed the World book club.  Prior to being hired at the Stowe Center, Rachel worked as an intern for the marketing department. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Communications at the University of Hartford, where she is specializing in gendered communication. She received a Cum Laude undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Sociology and Human Rights.  As an undergrad she won the Miss Black Connecticut 2005 title, where her platform was girl empowerment

Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch for the second half of the program.  Bag Lunches may be ordered ahead of time from Two Wrasslin’ Cats.  Cold drinks and snacks will be provided.

Fear Not. Organize. Resist.

Promoting and Defending Progressive Values


Panel 1

Our Core Values

1-  We are devoted to nonviolent action,

2-  We condemn all hate crimes and hate speech,

3- We believe in this nation’s founding principle of religious freedom, which includes a freedom from religion, and the rights of all people to practice their faith without discrimination,

4- We support Gender and Sexual Minorities (GSM) rights and are in fierce opposition to conversion therapy or withdrawal of rights of any kind,

5- We TRUST Women and we will never back down on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area where women’s rights are violated or threatened,

6- Black Lives Matter to us,

7- No Muslim Registry- ever,

8- We stand for the rights and agency of children and minors,

9- We support the human rights of immigrants, refugees, and their families,

10- We support equal rights and equal opportunities for seniors and for people with differing abilities,

11-  We stand strong in support of the rights of all Indigenous People,

12- We believe in the First Amendment which includes Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press as integral facets of our society,

13- We believe that climate change is real, that environmental justice IS social justice, and we will fight for the health of our planet,
14- Our group does not follow party lines, but we always support and defend our Core Values, regardless of political affiliation.  

Panel 2


“Together We Rise CT” is a new group of like-minded individuals from the Lower Connecticut River Valley and surrounding areas who believe that “no one is free while others are oppressed.” We aim to exemplify solidarity and to work as peaceful advocates for justice. Using tools of open-communication, art, personal testimony, community building, political advocacy, and education we work to address issues of social, economic and environmental justice at the local, state and national levels. Our ultimate goal is to build and strengthen an engaged and egalitarian community, with respect towards all humanity. We work in collaboration and conjunction with The Valley Stands Up


Solidarity: the affirmation of the bonds we share as humans, based in the belief that what affects one affects all of us and therefore that it is our collective responsibility to take action, with and for each other

Advocate: a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of): ex. an advocate of racial justice.

Egalitarian: 1:  a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs 2:  a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people


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