The 2007 Responsive Resolution
At General Assembly 2007, Rev. William G. Sinkford began his President's Report by asking, "What does it mean to be a faithful Unitarian Universalist in our time?"
There are many spiritual issues around race to address, he said, such as Truth and Reconciliation within our movement as in South Africa. He related the journey of Rev. David Pettee, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Director of Ministerial Credentialing, as he went to Africa to trace the history of his forbears in the slave trade (see below—Is owning slaves part of your past?). Sinkford asked, "Should we collectively acknowledge that some of the beautiful white clapboard Unitarian churches in New England were built with profits from the slave trade? Other groups have begun to engage their histories, and we need to begin this work ourselves." He asked, "With whom do we need to be reconciled?"
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the General Assembly voted to contribute $1,000,000 to black economic development, and to be distributed by black Unitarian Universalists. Only half of the promised money was ever paid. "Doesn't our moral balance sheet still carry an unpaid debt?" Sinkford asked. He pointed out that for many at that time, both black and white, there was a real sense of betrayal. Sinkford said that he left our movement for a time because of this. Yet, he cautioned, "merely writing a check won't heal the wounds. Telling the story—truth to reconciliation—is needed."
In response to President Sinkford's report, and in acknowledging that only by knowing our truths can we boldly act on our spiritual journey of healing, the following Resolution was passed:
That delegates begin this work by encouraging their congregations and the UUA to research their own and the Association's history: to uncover our links and complicity with the genocide of native people, with slavery and the slave-based economy, and with all types of racial, ethnic, and cultural oppression past and present, toward the goal of accountability through acknowledgment, apology, repair, and reconciliation, and that they report on their progress at GA [General Assembly] 2008 and 2009.
For Study and Reflection
- General Assembly 2008 Workshop on Truth, Repair, and Reconciliation
- Truth and Reconciliation: Unitarian Universalist (UU) Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2007—words from Reverend. William G. Sinkford
- Is your town a Sundown Town?
- Resources for descendants confronting a family history involving the enslavement of Africans
- Whose Land? Justice for the First Peoples
- UU Congregations and districts reach out for Accountability through Truth, Repair, and Reconciliation
- Learn more about Cultural (Mis)Appropriation