Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Here's what black Mormons in Utah are saying about Mormon black history.

As black history month comes to a close, I realize with regret that I haven't posted this month about black Utahn history topics.  So here's a start:

A significant piece of Utah black history is Mormon black history. Rather than set up my own summary of historic black history moments in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I'd like to provide a couple of helpful resources here. The image below is a link to a popular blog authored by two black LDS women (also Utahns) who call themselves, "Sista Beehive" and "Sista Laurel."

It's a humorous and thoughtful blog about faith, race, and Utah culture.  Their subtitle is a parody of the LDS women's organization, Relief Society, whose motto is: "Charity Never Faileth." I recommend their article about Elijah Abel, one of the few black Mormons to receive the priesthood early in the Church's history. They also wrote a great post about Amanda and Samuel Chambers, former slaves who became Mormon pioneers, emigrating to Utah in 1870.

Here's another helpful source:

Among the creators/writers of this site are Marvin Perkins, and Darius Gray, who have had leadership positions in the LDS Church's Genesis Group, a social organization for black Latter Day Saints. has a great post on the history of black Mormons and the priesthood. The LDS Church never had segregation, but for over a hundred years, black Latter Day Saints were excluded from the priesthood. (This limitation was formally lifted in 1978.) The post links a great list of articles by black LDS scholars, and significant Church leaders who offer a frank discussion of the issue.

I should add there, that the LDS Church recently made a public statement in response to a Washington Post article about this issue in which BYU professor, Randy Bott, made some controversial statements.