OK, time for the answer to today’s question. Kim Hampton guessed that the first Responsive Resolution was in 1968, and that it related to black empowerment. That’s a very good guess, though it doesn’t happen to be correct. In 1968 there were two resolutions that related to issues of black empowerment, but neither was of the recently popular, far more streamlined Responsive Resolution type. Rather, one was a Business Resolution and the other was a General Resolution.
In fact, the very first Responsive Resolution was passed at General Assembly in 1983; that is to say, it was not until twenty-two years after the creation of the UUA that this type of motion was exercised. It didn’t catch on very quickly: the next one wasn’t until 1996, then 2001. But starting in 2002 they suddenly began to spread like wildfire: there have been fourteen Responsive Resolutions issued in just the past six years, and more are expected at GA 2008. Thus while they were slower to get going, Responsive Resolutions have begun to outstrip Actions of Immediate Witness, and together they represent a dramatic sea change in the type of proclamations being issued by the GA today, compared to a generation ago.
That first Responsive Resolution back in 1983 was about “A Call to the Nation,” which involved social justice issues on the twentieth anniversary of the March on Washington, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Newer resolutions also sometimes deal with national political issues but they also have a noticeable tendency to refer to UUA-specific matters, perhaps in part because they are only allowed in response to official denominational reports.