The Board of Social Justice and Outreach of First Congregational Church of Long Beach has been actively preparing since Sunday, May 31, to create a plan to share our message of concern and our need to not only send a message out to the community, but to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. The first phase of this journey of many steps ahead is to place a banner on our church to show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Much thought, debate, and conversation has gone into this banner, and we are very proud to place it on the corner of Justice and Arts. This is the immediate step to make sure people know that First Congregational Church of Long Beach stands with our Black brothers and sisters, that we will not be silent, and we will proclaim loudly that all lives cannot matter until Black Lives Matter.
Below you will see the final version of banner that Byron Jobin-Reyes created for our church. There are many elements to his design, and he has provided information to describe the elements and why they were chosen.
Black Lives Matter Banner Design Statement
The goal for the banner graphic is to display solidarity with the Black community and the movement of Black Lives Matter. We want viewers who see the design to feel that they are heard and that our congregation supports them.
Top Portion, Raised Fists: The top portion of the banner design displays three raised fists, with the black fist centered and dominant, the two lighter color skin-toned fists adjacent are smaller in size to lift up the black fist in support. The church’s rose window logo watermarks the raised fists graphic, further conveying our solidarity as a congregation.
Mid Portion, Black Lives Matter: The middle portion displays the main content, reading “Continuing support of Black Lives Matter.” In and of itself, “Black Lives Matter” encompasses the purpose, slogan, and movement, simultaneously.
Bottom Portion, Our Message: The bottom portion presents the congregation’s message, in as little words as possible, to address the facts that we 1) acknowledge and understand the Black Lives Matter movement, and 2) stand in solidarity with the Black community. These words are watermarked with a silhouette of a protest, to invoke change that comes from united voices.
The church’s official rose window and text logo appears at the bottom to footnote.
Social Impact of Design
The raised/clenched fist has been used by many peoples and cultures throughout history, largely as a sign of resisting or rising from oppression, but has been adopted in recent events and is currently synonymous with the Black community. The fist continues to stand for power, resistance, and unity. The protest imagery watermarking the bottom portion of the banner, as stated above, promotes the united voices heard at these gatherings, historically invoking social change.
Accessibility, Legibility and Branding
The overall aesthetic of the banner, while simplistic, is still consistent with the general branding of other signs and banners around the church: large, quick to-the-point messages. Minimal wording with maximum impact.
As important as the banner and the message of solidarity are, to simply place this banner on the corner of Justice and Arts really means nothing if we don’t have action behind the words. As Elena mentioned, she tasked the board to come up with two action items to take us to the next phase. We took her challenge and with much help from Clayton Heard, who will be leading our new anti-racism committee on the board, we have created 12 action items to get us started; many of these action items will be continuous in the growth of the church and most importantly us as individuals.
We encourage you, especially if any of this is making you feel uncomfortable, to really dive into this with us. Our church is 80% white, so it’s really time to dive in and learn what white privilege is and how white silence equals violence, and so much more. One of the action items is to begin the spiritual journey with a new ministry team. This team will truly take us on a journey of self-discovery that we can only imagine is going to be one of the most uncomfortable, yet enlightening, journeys we may have ever voluntarily traveled.
Below are the 12 action ideas that we will be working on in the next few weeks, months, and well into the future.
- Form an anti-racism ministry team to support continuous education, action, and review of anti-racist practices.
- Dedicate a 10 a.m. Sunday service to anti-racist teachings.
- On the last Sunday of the month, dedicate time and space to read the names of Black people murdered by the police in that month.
- Host ongoing workshops provided by the UCC and other organizations.
- Make a quarterly donation to an organization supporting the work of Black liberation.
- Include links to petitions to sign in The Pilgrim.
- Create a book club and anti-racist library.
- Create an affinity circle for white people to discuss whiteness and its impacts on the community and BIPOC, similar to the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) format.
- Support mutual aid efforts in the community as they arise.
- Movie and documentary screenings/watch parties.
- Work with Christian Education to understand how we can better teach about police brutality, race, and protest.
- Actively participate in conversations about the role of police in the Long Beach community.
We invite you, if you are interested, to help coordinate any of these action items. Please let me or Clayton know if you would like to join the committee or the ministry team when it begins. Again, we are very excited about the growth and discovery ahead and look forward to all the members of our church coming on this journey with us.
In closing, as we begin this journey, I’m comforted by a message from a Black leader at a vigil that Byron and I attended on Sunday afternoon. She said to an audience of a couple thousand, many of whom were white supporters, that what you do in the beginning of this journey is not going to be perfect, and you’re probably not going to get it right the first time, but to not give up, and to keep trying, because it will be worth it.
Peace and love,
Sebastian Reyes, Board of Social Justice and Outreach