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Darkening the Doorways

Darkening the Doorways

Black Trailblazers and Missed Opportunities in Unitarian Universalism

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Life stories and achievements of African Americans in Unitarian Universalism

Author: Mark D. Morrison-Reed

Price: $16.00

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On one hand, Darkening the Doorways is a tale of systemic paternalism and a prejudicial failure of vision, of squandered opportunities and good intentions turned into tragedy more often than triumph. On the other hand, it is a tale of idealism, courage, intrepid allies, dogged determination and steadfast loyalty in the face of rejection. The life stories and achievements of the African Americans you will discover in these pages are remarkable. Mark Morrison-Reed's collection of profiles and essays, supplemented by archival documents, revives their memory while pointing toward the evolving multicultural future.

Several free supplemental materials are available on the Skinner House Companion Resources page.
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Preface

The Unitarians

A Cold Shoulder for William Jackson  Dan Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper  Qiyamah Rahman

Peter H. Clark  Bruce Beisner

Fannie Barrier Williams  June Edwards

Don Speed Smith Goodloe  Richard Morris

Clarence Bertrand Thompson   John Buehrens

"Rev. Ethelred Brown Is Symbol of Radicalism in Pulpits in Harlem"  Anonymous

William H.G. Carter  Bruce Beisner and Walter Herz

"Resolution on Race Relations"  American Unitarian Association

"I Have Two Dreams"  Ethelred Brown

"Why Brotherhood Week?"  Edward D. Smith-Green

"1st Unitarian Uses Brotherhood Idea"  James O. Supple

The Candidacy of Eugene Sparrow  Nancy Doughty and Mark D. Morrison-Reed

On the Eve of Merger  Mark D. Morrison-Reed

The Universalists

Joseph Jordan  Willard Frank

Thomas E. Wise  Willard Frank

Mary J. Jordan  Willard Frank

Joseph Fletcher Jordan  Willard Frank

Annie B. Willis  Willard Frank

"Affirmation of Social Principles"  Universalist Church of America

Jeffrey and Marguerite Campbell  John Hurley

Universalism's Theological Conundrum  Mark D. Morrison-Reed

The Empowerment Saga

"Admission of Members Without Discrimination"  Unitarian Universalist Association

"The Negro's Image of White America"  William R. Jones

"Life-Threatening Work in Selma"  Margaret Mosley

"The White Liberal and the Black Rebellion"  Henry Hampton

"Racism for the UUA?"  Kenneth B. Clark

"All of the People That I Am"  Betty Reid Soskin

"Martin Luther King, Jr."  Lewis Allen McGee

"I Cannot Approve"  Wade H. McCree Jr.

The Black Affairs Council and Black and White Action  Unitarian Universalist Association Directory

David Hilliard Eaton  Paula Cole Jones and Mark D. Morrison-Reed

"Blacks, Get Your Guns"  Renford Gaines (Mwalimu Imara)

The Black Humanist Fellowship of Liberation  Colin Bossen

The Empowerment Paradox  Mark D. Morrison-Reed

Still Seeking a Way

William Roland Jones  Anthony B. Pinn

The Sojourner Truth Congregation  Yvonne Seon

"Affirming Beauty in Darkness"  Jacqui James

African American Unitarian Universalist Ministries  AAUUM

"Pioneering Minister Is Helping Troubled Area  Ernest Tucker

Thomas Eliron Payne  Mark D. Morrison-Reed

"Why Change? Why Now?"  George Schulman and Dick Morris

Reconciliation with the Carter Family  Sharon Dittmar

The First  William Sinkford

Afterword

Chronology

When this project began in 1977, I was a young man; I am no longer. I aged and it grew as I tried to answer a perennial question: Why are there so few African-American Unitarian Universalists?

This question arose from my existential situation. As an African-American child growing up during the 1950s in the First Unitarian Society of Chicago, I saw so few of my hue that I could not help but be conscious of the only other African American in the children's choir, my first black Sunday school teacher, the UU seminarian who was my youth group advisor. The feelings of self-consciousness and relief churned within until they formulated themselves into the question "Why?"

As the twentieth century progressed, many in our faith community grew ill at ease over the absence of significant numbers of black folks and other people of color within Unitarian Universalism. Sometimes, when awareness of this uncomfortable reality breaks through, Euro-Americans feel bewildered. They cannot reconcile it with a self-conception that holds Unitarian Universalists up as liberal, progressive people. So, from different perspectives, we end up sharing the feeling of confusion-and a yearning that it might be otherwise.

This book aims to dispel that confusion. The story told by the biographies, memoirs, documents, and essays gathered here is painful but not befuddling. On one hand, it is a tale of systemic paternalism and prejudice-induced failure of vision, of squandered opportunities, and of good intentions turned into tragedy more often than triumph. On the other hand, it is a tale of idealism, courage, intrepid allies, dogged determination, and steadfast loyalty in the face of rejection. This exploration of the tainted reality behind Unitarian Universalism's espoused liberalism is heart-wrenching but leads to an important truth: The premise that liberal religion has not and cannot attract African Americans is false.

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