To encourage and support more black Unitarian Universalists to attend General Assembly 2016, June 22-26, in Columbus, Ohio, the Saturday morning offering at GA will go to Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. The Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees voted in a special board meeting on May 5 to designate Black Lives of UU as the recipient and set a goal of $60,000 to be raised during the offering.
About half of the money will be used for staffing, programming, and financial assistance for black UUs to attend GA 2016, said the Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith, a member of the Black Lives of UU Organizing Collective, which formed last September after about twenty black UUs attended the Movement for Black Lives Convening at Cleveland State University in July. The balance of the funds will support programming and staffing in 2017 and beyond, including a Black Lives of UU convening in late 2017 or early 2018, Smith said.
GA 2016 will include a Black Lives of UU Program Track, and a healing space for black UUs to meet, connect, and heal.
The UUA board is working in partnership with the UUA administration to “ensure a successful offering,” according to the motion to direct the offering to Black Lives of UU, which was approved unanimously by the board. If the offering does not reach the $60,000 goal, the UUA will guarantee that Black Lives of UU nonetheless receives the full amount, the board voted.
There are five people in the Black Lives of UU Organizing Collective, Smith said. In addition to Smith, they are Lena K. Gardner, Leslie MacFadyen, Elandria Williams, and Kenny Wiley. Smith said they will use Facebook, Twitter, and their new website, BlackLivesUU.com, to get the word out and have people apply for assistance to attend GA. Smith said they anticipate a “visible uptick in black presence in Columbus.”
“One of the things that we black Unitarian Universalists realized when we talked at the Movement for Black Lives Convening last July was how many of us rarely attend local UU congregations. That’s how alienating and even painful it can be when one is the only black person or one of very few in an overwhelmingly white setting,” Smith said.
“With the specialized Black Lives UU track and the financial assistance available this year, we hope that black UUs who have never been to GA or haven’t been in a long while will feel more welcome than ever.”