We the Committee Chairpersons of BCU warmly welcome you to our online home!
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER
Blount County United has its beginning in “A Clarion Call to Prayer” held on December 17, 2014 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Willa Estell and Rev. Dr. Richard Gadzekpo. After the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and other black men and youth who were killed by police officers, we felt it necessary as a community of faith to seek the face of God. In the midst of national racial, social and political unrest, our goal and desire was to bring awareness, healing, unity and understanding to the community of Blount County. While, we had not experienced the degree of national discontent directly associated with racism as other areas, our hearts were grieved by acts of racism and violence perpetrated on people of color. It was and still is our desire to be proactive rather than reactive. Our prayer was that the people of Blount County, community organizations, faith communities and public officials could come together to pray about the real issues of race relations. We also understood the need to pray for Blount County law enforcement and families, believing that it was not “us” against “them”, but the dignity and worth of all human beings created in the image of God. Approximately 150 people were in attendance answering this call to pray including public officials, police officers, community leaders, clergy and concerned citizens.
God answered our prayers because in January of 2015 we were moved into action by becoming “We Are Stronger Together: Blount County United.” We acknowledged and embraced the reality that despite significant strides toward racial equality there was still much to be done not only in the nation but Blount County in particular. We, therefore accepted the challenge to address the systemic racial disparities seen in educational, governmental and other institutions.
Our purpose and mission is to “promote an appreciation for diversity and advocate for justice throughout Blount County. “ We chose as our theme Scripture, Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” In 2017 we were established as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.
Some of our goals are:
- Embracing the tenets of a “Beloved Community” where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
- To dismantle stereotypes and build relationship of trust and understanding through education and awareness.
- Working with clergy and other faith-based entities to promote cultural and racial awareness – seeking to change hearts and minds one person at a time.
- Building partnerships with government, schools and other community organizations to improve race relations with an end goal of eradication of systemic racism.
- Bridging the gap between youth, community and police departments by working together to build a better Blount County.
To achieve our goals, we developed four action Committees; namely:
JOIN US IN THE WORK
Across the country, people of good will are standing up and taking action to promote diversity, counter hatred and build stronger communities. Blount County United provides a vehicle for people in our county to advocate for meaningful change. Join us in that task. There is much that you can do in your home and in your community. A good place to start is to take a critical look at your own thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. Reflect and endeavor to root out whatever biases, stereotypes and prejudices that are found within the insistent self. Your contributions to the work can make a real difference. Speak up in ways that draw attention away from hatred and toward unity instead. Become informed about racism and hate crimes—what they are, how they exist and are perpetuated
MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE
Over 250,000 hate crime incidents are estimated to occur every year in our country and are particularly commonplace in schools. It will take concentrated effort and thoughtful action to confront hatred and
intolerance in our schools, our homes, our work sites, our gathering places and our faith communities. Blount County United and its partners across the county are working hard to identify the warning signs of hatred brewing in the area and collaborate with officials, law enforcement officers and schools and to counteract it. We are committed to building a stronger and more united community where people of all
backgrounds can safely work, congregate, worship and play without fear.
MEETING DATES AND TIMES
Meetings are held on the fourth Saturday of each month at 1:00 p.m., St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church, 401 W. Broadway, Maryville, TN 37801; 865-984-5364.
Blount County United’s Statement on DACA
Blount County United is a community organization committed to working for racial justice in Blount County, Tennessee. Our BCU membership is interracial, interdenominational, and interfaith, and together we promote racial understanding and justice in our hometown. Committed to anti-racist action, BCU members believe that We Are Stronger Together. Blount County United works toward what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the Beloved Community—a space open and welcoming where we can all come together as one.
We are very disappointed by the recent federal decision regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This change in federal policy is contrary to our commitment to the Beloved Community, and we feel that the Dreamers, all young people brought to the United States as children, are a part of that community. We believe that these young people deserve to live lives free from the fear of deportation from the country where they have lived the vast majority of their lives. We recognize all the outstanding contributions they have made and will make to our community and our country, and we call on ourselves, our community organizations, and our governments to stand with them.