I grew up in a village on the Erie Canal east of Rochester. Everyone was white. The first Black person I met was Terry, who joined my third-grade class when his family worked on a local farm during harvest season. We became friends but he did not stay long. Migrant workers must follow the crops. A decade later, I met a second Black person. Priscilla was my freshman roommate at SUNY Albany. We became friends, too, but grew apart after that first year. Now that I am much older, and challenged by the work of anti-racism, I wonder about them. How did they navigate the mostly white spaces where I met them? Did I fail them? How do I confront white supremacy, in all its blatant and subtle forms, today?
Dr. Anne Klaeysen is Leader Emerita of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, Humanist Chaplain at New York University, and Ethical Humanist Religious Life Adviser at Columbia University. She serves on the boards of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Schools and The Encampment for Citizenship. Anne holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral care and counseling from Hebrew Union College. She and her husband, Glenn Newman, were married at the Brooklyn Society and raised their children, Andrew and Emily, there.
Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings usually begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest. Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Ethical Culture philosophy. A collection basket is passed and money is shared between the Society and a charity selected for that day. While contributions are always appreciated, Sunday meetings are free and open to the public. Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.
To view previous Sunday Platform addresses and interviews, visit the Ethical NYC YouTube channel.