Social Justice Team: Past Events

Bringing in the neighborhood—how showing the film 13th did just that!

Roslindale Congregational Church initiated a Social Justice team early in 2022. As a team, we aimed to educate ourselves, to become a resource of information related to social justice efforts within and outside the church, and to actively pursue projects for positive change.

One of the group’s first activities was a survey of the congregation. We asked people what aspects of social justice they were most interested in pursuing. Racial justice and criminal justice ranked highest, followed by housing, education, immigration, environmental justice, and health care. This influenced the group to select The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander as our first reading, a book that puts the criminal justice system on trial, exposing racial discrimination from lawmaking, to policing, to the denial of voting rights for ex-prisoners

The book is an excellent resource. Many of us earmarked our copies, and those who are not members of the black community found the reading eye-opening.  There were moments when we were in shock and moments that promoted unity and understanding. We wanted to share what we were learning or, for some of us, what we already understood, about people of color and the criminal justice system.

Two films were suggested. 13th by Ava DuVernay, a Netflix film (one hour 40 minutes), and the Kalief Browder Story, a Netflix series. The team met at one member’s home and watched samples of each, deciding that 13th would be an effective film to show because it offers a history of how today’s tragic situation evolved. Once we set a date to show the film in our sanctuary, we had to scramble and find an introductory speaker and set the wheels of publicity in motion. Fortunately, Netflix allows an organization to show the film once to the public.

One of our members reached out to Prisoners’ Legal Services to find a speaker, someone who could give a brief introduction to the film. PLS was very helpful in suggesting Mac Hudson who has served on their board since 2006. Incarcerated for 33 years, Mac litigated against the MA Department of Corrections successfully and also held cultural and religious events to promote community healing. His initial talk (about 10 minutes) prior to the film emphasized how his personal experience is validated by the film. Several people who attended and had already seen the film came to hear him.

Another member created flyers and posters for publicity. These were disseminated all over Roslindale and sent to about 15 community newsletters and websites, the Theodore Parker Church and Facebook.  A special social justice link was also created on RCC’s Facebook page. Pastor Chip was enthusiastic, reminding the congregation to attend. He encouraged church members to come and bring a friend.

So on Friday, November 11, at 7 pm with our technology all working and in order (after a tech rehearsal the day before), refreshments ready, programs at the door, and even a sandwich board on the porch holding the poster, we waited somewhat anxiously to see whether the word had gotten out. To our great delight, it had. Over 40 people arrived and filled the pews.

After the film, Mac Hudson spent some time responding to audience comments and questions before the audience moved to the back of the sanctuary and continued lively discussions. We were pleased that 21 people completed the survey on the back of the program, all rating the event very good. Film series was a popular choice for future events (20 respondents), followed by speaker, panel discussion, live art, and book club in that order. One attendee alerted us to another film we could present, “Vigilante: Georgia’s Vote Suppression Hitman,” and we have received a copy.

Showing a film that addresses a contemporary issue proved to be an effective way to let the neighborhood know: Roslindale Congregational Church does indeed believe that black lives matter.



Documentary Screening & Discussion

Friday, November 11 | 7:00 p.m.

Film Trailer

13th is an award-winning documentary by Ava DuVernay that explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass-incarceration in the United States. It discusses the economic history of slavery, post-Civil War racist legislation, and disproportionate rates of incarceration in our country. (African-American men are only six percent of our nation’s population but make up over forty percent of the prison population.) The Washington Post has called it “…a powerful look at how the modern-day prison labor system links to slavery.”

This film has won various awards including the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture Documentary, 2017 Peabody Documentary Award, 2016 Critics Choice for Best Political Documentary. It was also nominated for an Oscar in 2016.

Featured Speaker:

Mac Hudson
Community Liaison/Racial Equity in Corrections Initiative Paralegal, Prisoner’s Legal Services of Massachusetts

Mac Hudson was incarcerated for 33 years in the Massachusetts Department of Correction and litigated against the Department successfully on a number of fronts, raising civil rights violation. While there, Mac also held cultural and religious events to promote community healing.  He has served on the PLS Board since 2006.

Prior to the showing of the film, Mac will share his experiences of institutional racism that exists in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections that serves to shut out Black or Brown people in their custody from services.

This event is free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be served.

*Please note that the film is rated TV-MA, therefore we do not recommend it for anyone under 16 years old. The film also contains some graphic images (including violence and historical photographs of lynched men) as well as racial slurs. For more information about this movie’s rating and sensitive themes, please click here: