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Racial Justice

At First Church in Cambridge, we have adopted Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a “Beloved Community by “striving to be a multicultural and multiracial church in which people of all races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, economic situations, ages, and abilities feel honored and included” (statement adopted by the congregation in 2012). The group charged with leading the church towards this vision is the “Beloved Community” group.

As part of this vision, First Church in Cambridge is committed to the work of Racial Justice.  See here for our June 10, 2020 statement about Becoming an Anti-Racist Church,

What Does It Look Like to be a “Beloved Community” with a focus on Racial Justice? 

  • We welcome and respect people of all colors in our hospitality, worship, and community activities.
  • We educate people in our congregation about racial justice and other issues that disproportionately affect people of color. 
  • We act to create a more just and equal society.

2019 Focus: From Memory to Action

2018 Focus: Racial Justice and Remembrance

Building the Beloved Community

First Church's History of Enslaved People and Enslavers

Pastoral Letter, June 3 ,2020




So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. The author explores the complex reality of today's racial landscape with answers to questions like “Why am I always being told to ‘check my privilege?’”  “Is police brutality really about race?”  “Why can’t I touch your hair?”  What is intersectionality and why do I need it?”

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas by Ibram X. Kendi. The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society.

White Fragility;Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin D'Angelo.  DiAngelo defines White Fragility as: "a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue." Her book breaks down the dynamics of White Fragility, and how we might build our 'racial staminia' and capacity in on-going work towards racial justice.

 Ten Hills Farm - The forgotten History of Slavery in the North by C.S. Manegold.  Beginning with John Winthrop as master of Ten Hills Farm and owner of slaves, the author traces the next 5 family generations of slave owners in the Winthrop family.

New England Bound -Slavery and Colonization in Early America by Wendy Warren. A Pullitizer Finalist.“A bracing and fearless inquiry into the intricate web of slavery and empire into which all New Englanders were bound. Ardently argued, and urgently necessary.” (Jill Lepore, author of New York Burning)

Complicity - How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery by Hartford Courant journalists Anne Farrow, Joel Lang and Jennifer Frank. A well-researched book that demythologizes the region of America known for tolerance and liberation, revealing a place where thousands of people were held in bondage and slavery for both economics and a necessary way of life.

The Half Has Never Been Told.  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist.  This nonfiction book shapes slave narratives and plantation records into a riveting tale showing how the expansion of slavery after the Revolution helped modernize the young capitalist economy. He argues that forced migration and torture were the foundation for achieving America’s dreams of freedom.


13th,  is a documentary that explores the criminalization of African Americans and the prison boom.

 Slavery by Another Name, is a documentary made from the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name by Douglas A. Blackmon.

Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk is a brilliant and important piece of the underpinnings of Dan’s Sabbatical study on Remembrance and Reparations.

I am Not Your Negro, a film biography of James Baldwin, also includes images from film and media of African Americans from the early 20th century through 2014.

Eyes on the Prize.  A 14 part series of the Civil Rights decade from 1954 to 1965, Beginning with the Montgomery Bus boycott and concluding with the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Produced by PBS and can be purchased at ShopPBS.org. Is also available at local libraries. Those going on the church’s Civil Rights Tour will be particularly interested in episodes depicting the Montgomery bus boycott, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and the Birmingham Children’s Crusade.


Looking for ways to support our community during this unprecedented time of need? The Missions and Social Justice Committee has compiled and vetted a short list of organizations looking for assistance to aid in their work in the COVID-19 response...

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Shelter has expanded into Sage Hall to allow for greater social distancing, and is now open to guests around the clock, thanks to additional funding from the Commonwealth. They would very much welcome...