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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 531

Unitarian Universalist Black Empowerment Controversy. Records, 1965-1983.

Overview

This collection contains some of the records of the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus (BUUC), the Black Affairs Council (BAC), Full Recognition and Funding of the Black Affairs Council (FULLBAC), and Black and White Action (BAWA), as well as some of the records of the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Appraisal related to the black empowerment controversy in the UUA in the late 1960s.

Dates

  • 1965-1983

Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Extent

9 boxes
This collection contains some of the records of the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus (BUUC), the Black Affairs Council (BAC), Full Recognition and Funding of the Black Affairs Council (FULLBAC), and Black and White Action (BAWA), as well as some of the records of the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Appraisal. All of these records are related to the black empowerment controversy in the UUA in the late 1960s. These records were collected by David Bortin, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Appraisal from 1979-1983. In 1984, the Commission on Appraisal published a report on the controversy entitled Empowerment. Bortin wrote a chapter in this report on the history of Black and White Action, and many of the records in this collection were used in the composition of this chapter.

Biographical / Historical

Immediately after the racial violence in Newark and Detroit in the summer of 1967, the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Religion and Race convened an emergency conference on "the Unitarian Universalist Response to the Black Rebellion." This conference was held in New York in October, 1967. The chief event of the 1967 conference was the formation of the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus (BUUC), which was an attempt on the part of the black participants in the conference to set their own priorities and goals. This Caucus led to the formation of the Black Affairs Council (BAC), a committee which served as a coordinating agency for Unitarian Universalist efforts in the fields of race relations and black empowerment. FULLBAC (Full Recognition and Funding of the Black Affairs Council) was a white support group formed in 1968 which supported the full funding of the Black Affairs Council. Some Unitarian Universalists felt that the direction of the Black Affairs Council was too separatist, and a group called Black and White Action (BAWA) was formed in 1968 to provide a channel for the efforts of some Unitarian Universalists to achieve racial justice through more integrated means.

Through a mismanagement of funding by the UUA administration, the dispersal of funds promised to BAC was changed from a one million dollar payout over four years to one over five years, requiring reaffirmation every year. In 1970, BAC disaffiliated from the UUA and in the following two years, through the sale of BAC bonds and a grant from the Veatch program, they raised the funding they required. A year later, in 1973, BAC and BUUC split and two organizations claiming to be BAC emerged, leading to a lawsuit. As UUA membership declined in general during this period, so did black membership. BAC was officially disbanded in 1979.

Note: See film made about this controversy entitled "Wilderness Journey, The Struggle for Black Empowerment and Racial Justice within the Unitarian Universalist Association, 1967-1970," VHS created by Ron Cordes, 2003, in bMS 15027.

Acquisition Information

Gift of David N. Bortin, 1984.

Related Materials

For related collections, please see bMS 1011, bMS 1144, bMS 1146, and bMS 1148.

General note

The number after the slash in each entry in the following list indicates the box number, and the number in parentheses is the folder number.
Title
Unitarian Universalist Black Empowerment Controversy. Records, 1965-1983: A Finding Aid.
Author
Andover-Harvard Theological Library
EAD ID
div00531

Repository Details

Part of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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