2004 Recipient: Dr. Norma Miller Poinsett

Dr. Norma Miller Poinsett has served the Unitarian Universalist Association for over 35 years. A long-time member of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, Il, Norma was identified early for her leadership skills. She served on the Commission of Appraisal, was active in curriculum development, and from 1995-2003 served as an At-Large Trustee on the UUA Board. She was a founding member of the Black Concerns Working Group, and later the Jubilee Working Group. In that role, Norma engaged with dozens of our congregations, bringing to her work both a prophetic voice for justice and a personal, pastoral presence that opened many hearts and minds.

These formal gifts of service alone would qualify her as a distinguished recipient of this award. But Norma has always brought more to the table. Faithfulness: Following what we call the “Black Empowerment Controversy”, when so many African Americans, including myself, left our faith, Norma stayed and worked tirelessly for a change of understanding and of heart. Integrity: She has spoken truth to power and used the power of her positions to serve the truth. Accountability: Norma has held this faith's feet to the fire not just on issues of race, but across the board as we have struggled to live up to the principles we affirm.

Norma Poinsett has been and remains a friend and mentor to hundreds of Unitarian Universalists. Educator, activist and visionary, her presence and her voice have served as an inspiration and catalyst for racial justice and for change.

Norma Poinsett's life exemplifies service and commitment to Unitarian Universalism at the highest level.

Norma, on behalf of Unitarian Universalism, let me offer my thanks to you, for staying the course, for your willingness both to stay engaged and stay honest. Your presence is a blessing.