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Mark D. Morrison-Reed, the preeminent scholar of black Unitarian Universalist history, presents this long-awaited chronicle and analysis of the events of the Empowerment Controversy, which rocked Unitarian Universalism in the late sixties and continues to reverberate. It was a time of revolution, of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Like the country, the young Unitarian Universalist Association was forced to reckon with demands for change and found itself fractured by conflict about the implications of a commitment to racial justice. Morrison-Reed synthesizes decades of research and extensive interviews to present a nuanced and suspense-filled drama about Unitarian Universalism's great crisis of faith. As he writes, "Perhaps wisdom can be gleaned from the pain and upheaval of those years, a wisdom that will be of use today in a new era." Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy is the last book in a historical arc Morrison-Reed has traced since the publication of Black Pioneers in a White Denomination.The following interviews, documents, and links are offered as companion resources to Revisiting the Empowerment Controversy: Black Power and Unitarian Universalism by Mark D. Morrison-Reed. Many of these are cited in the book, but are offered here in their entirety. As an augmentation it is not meant to be exhaustive but rather to give you access to materials that will enrich, deepen, and broaden your understanding of that era.

Interviews

  • Rev. Jack Mendelsohn, minister of the Arlington Street Church and subsequently the First Unitarian Society of Chicago, was Co-Chair of FULLBAC and a member of BAC. (Interviewed by Mark D. Morrison-Reed 1986) PLAY
  • Rev. Max D. Gaebler, the minister of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, was the Co-Chair of BAWA and earlier served the UUA as the first Director of the Department of International Affairs. (Interviewed by Mark D. Morrison-Reed 1986) PLAY
  • Henry Hampton, the UUA Director of Information and the only African American professional on UUA staff, was among the first UUs to go to Selma in March 1965. After leaving the UUA in 1969 he founded the production company Blackside, Inc., which produced the award-winning documentary Eyes on the Prize. (Interviewed by Carol Dornbrand 1988) PLAY

Documents

  • “Last Exit to Grosse Point,” written by the UUA Director of Information following the Emergency Conference on the Unitarian Universalist Response to the Back Rebellion in October 1967.
  • Minutes summarizing the events at and Board decisions of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley regarding BAC during Spring 1968.
  • “Like It Was,” delivered following the 1969 Boston General Assembly by the Rev. Homer A. Jack, Director of the UUA Social Responsibility Department, at the International Affairs Workshop, Star Island, New Hampshire, August 4, 1969.
  • “The Case for Integrated Unitarianism,” delivered Dr. Glover W. Barnes, BAWA Co-Chair, at the Unitarian Society of Cleveland, October 12, 1969.
  • “Statement of Disaffiliation of the Black Affairs Council, Inc. from the Unitarian Universalist Association,” revised March 30, 1970.
  • “Thoughts on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Vote to Fund the Unitarian Universalist Black Affairs Council,” delivered by Benjamin F. Scott at the First Unitarian Society of Chicago, June 11, 1978. A founder of the Black Affairs Council, he served as Treasurer for BAC and secretary for the BAC Investment Corporation.

Links