Reverend talks to UUSCV about America’s ‘Great Wound’

The Unitarian Universalists of the Santa Clarita Valley hosted a discussion on racism in America following their morning services Sunday morning at the Vibe Performing Arts Center in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The Unitarian Universalists of the Santa Clarita Valley welcomed the Rev. Kenneth Collier on Sunday to talk at Vibe Performing Arts Center in Newhall about the history of racism in America. 

Collier, a minister emeritus at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, spoke on the matter during the church’s services. He began talking about slavery and addressed his ancestry’s own history as slaveholders, followed by the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War, racism toward former president Barack Obama and the emergence of Black Lives Matter. 

Collier’s sermon also included the reading of a passage from W.E.B. DuBois’ “The Souls of Black Folks.”

“The Unitarian Universalist movement has been trying to address racism and systemic white supremacy for some time,” he said after services concluded. “It’s a current theme in our whole movement.”

UUSCV co-founder Rich Jaffke said Collier had previously spoken to the congregation on different topics. He said as a faith that strives for justice, equality and equity, Collier’s sermons fit into the congregation’s beliefs. 

Collier also brought copies of his book “The Great Wound: Confessions of a Slaveholding Family.” The book entails over a decade of research into Collier’s genealogy and how to approach the matter within a spiritual context. 

“This whole work is a deeply spiritual work,” Collier said. “The healing is necessary – at bottom, the spiritual healing — so that permeates the book, sometimes explicitly and sometimes not.”

After the service, congregants briefly spoke with him and asked to buy copies of his book.

“One woman came up to me and said her ancestors were from an area close to where mine were,” he said. “Another woman just basically thanked me for doing this work and doing this sermon.”

Looking ahead, Collier said racism in the United States will not be resolved in the years to come, not “in my lifetime or my children’s lifetime, perhaps not even their children’s children’s lifetime,” he said. 

“I have hope. I am old enough, I see the big picture, the long game. There’ll be some success, there’ll be some failure. We’ll see how it unfolds.”

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