Black Empowerment and Unitarian Universalism

Explore digitized material related to the Empowerment Controversy in the Unitarian Universalist Association during the 1960s and 1970s.
Unitarian Universalist Association. The Black Affairs Council, Records, 1966-1983.
Harvard Divinity School Library

In 1967, following the racial violence in Newark and Detroit, the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Religion and Race convened an emergency conference on "the Unitarian Universalist Response to the Black Rebellion." 

Sketch of two people back to back.
Unitarian Universalist Black Empowerment Controversy BAC, "Focus On", n.d.
Harvard Divinity School Library

The Black Affairs Council

At the conference, the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus (BUUC) was formed, in order for Black participants in the conference to set their own priorities and goals. In turn, the BUUC 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.

In 1968, a white support group formed to support the BAC, and it was known as the Full Recognition and Funding of the Black Affairs Council (FULLBAC).

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.

UUA administration mismanaged BAC funding, and in 1970 BAC disaffiliated from the UUA. Three years later, 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.


Harvard Divinity School Library


Records related to the Empowerment Controversy in the UUA in the late 1960s and 1970s have been digitized, including:

Black and White Action (BAWA) Question Mark
UUA Commission on Religion and Race. Black and White Action (BAWA), 1969.
Harvard Divinity School Library

Additional collections of interest include:

Accessing These Materials

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