Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit and Fountain Baptist Church will hold a joint celebration on Sunday, October 7, to celebrate the second anniversary of raising Black Lives Matter banners and the two congregations’ partnership in the racial justice work of Black Lives Matter.

The observance, which includes a picnic, will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at Beacon, 4 Waldron Avenue, Summit. Members of the public are invited to join in the celebration.

The commemoration will also include advocacy for 1844 No More, a movement to restore voting rights to New Jersey citizens with criminal convictions. Speakers will describe the campaign to change racially discriminatory laws that date back to the 19th century and effectively curtail the political power of the African American population. Ways to get involved in the campaign will be provided.

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Currently, New Jersey’s voting laws deny the right to vote to more than 94,300 people, including almost 73,000 who are living in the community on probation and parole. State law dating back to 1844 undermines the Fifteenth Amendment’s intent that no State should deny the right to vote “on account of race (or) color.”

New Jersey leads the nation in having the highest racial disparities in Black/White incarceration rates, due in large part to racially discriminatory policies in every stage of the criminal justice process. By linking the fundamental right to vote to the state’s criminal justice system, more than 5 percent of New Jersey’s Black voting age population lack a voice in the political process.

Beacon and Fountain Baptist have a long history of working on racial justice. Their work is part of a larger anti-racism campaign in Summit spearheaded by the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) of the Summit Interfaith Council.

Since 2015, ARC has sponsored a series of public book discussions, films and interracial dialogues that became the Dialogue Circles on Race. In all, a total of 300 Summit area residents have participated, and a new round of the facilitated discussions begins October 14. For information about the Dialogues, email summitantiracismcommittee@gmail.com.

For more information about the October 7 event, contact Beacon at (908) 273-3245 or visit its website at www.summitbeacon.com.