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Black and Mormon

Newell G. Bringhurst

Publication Year: 2004

The year 2003 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the lifting of the ban excluding black members from the priesthood of the Mormon church. The articles collected in Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith's Black and Mormon look at the mechanisms used to keep blacks from full participation, the motives behind the ban, and the kind of changes that have--and have not--taken place within the church since the revelation responsible for its end. _x000B__x000B_This challenging collection is required reading for anyone concerned with the history of racism, discrimination, and the Latter-day Saints.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The coeditors wish to acknowledge a number of individuals whose help was invaluable in the preparation of this volume. Essential are the seven authors who have contributed essays, namely Alma Allred, Ronald G. Coleman, Darius A. Gray, Jessie L. Embry, Armand L. Mauss, Cardell K. Jacobson, and Ken Driggs. ...

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pp. 1-12

Friday, June 9, 1978, “the long promised day” when Latter-day Saints Church officials announced that “all worthy male members of the church [could] be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color,” was like no other day in the history of the church. ...

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1. The "Missouri Thesis" Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People

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pp. 13-33

The “Missouri thesis” was at one time seen as the key to understanding the origins of the ban on black priesthood ordination in the LDS Church. The thesis developed within the context of the so-called new Mormon history, which emerged during the second half of the twentieth century. ...

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2. The Traditions of Their Fathers: Myth versus Reality in LDS Scriptural Writings

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pp. 34-49

I recently read a comment by a well-meaning Latter-day Saint whom I shall not identify. She was trying to defend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against criticisms of racism. I cringed when I read what she thought was an official, doctrinal explanation for the fact that blacks of African descent were not ordained to the priesthood between 1847 and 1978: ...

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3. Two Perspectives: The Religious Hopes of "Worthy" African American Latter-day Saints before the 1978 Revelation

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pp. 50-59

On June 8, 1978, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement that reversed the long-standing practice of denying the priesthood to men of African lineage. The statement said in part: “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.”1 ...

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4. Spanning the Priesthood Revelation (1978): Two Multigenerational Case Studies

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pp. 60-81

My scholarly and professional interest in African Americans and their experience in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is situated in my personal experience.1 I am typical of many Utah-born Latter-day Saints who first welcomed black members to their congregations before and especially after President Spencer W. Kimball’s revelation of June 1978, ...

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5. Casting Off the "Curse of Cain": The Extent and Limits of Progress since 1978

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pp. 82-115

The anguished history of the black membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is by now a well-told story, which does not need recounting here.1 The story is rooted in three episodes in particular, each crucial in its own way, and each itself a culmination of a unique process: ...

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6. African American Latter-day Saints: A Sociological Perspective

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pp. 116-131

Although religious institutions are considered to be a conservative force in societies, and although religious leaders often emphasize the stability of their own organizations, religion in the United States has always been in a state of flux. One kind of change in religious organizations is their development and growth. ...

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7. "How Do Things Look on the Ground?" The LDS African American Community in Atlanta, Georgia

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pp. 132-147

Atlanta, Georgia, is not Mormon Utah. It has a healthy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community and one that is more racially, culturally, and politically diverse. African American Mormons are an essential part of the mix. They are growing in numbers, in commitment, and in the church leadership roles they fill. ...

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8. Unpacking Whiteness in Zion: Some Personal Reflections and General Observations

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pp. 148-166

As an African American member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I was disturbed one otherwise enjoyable Sunday afternoon when I learned about an unpleasant incident that had occurred in my congregation earlier that day. This incident involved Joy Smith, who was teaching the lesson that day in the women’s Relief Society meeting.1 ...

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pp. 167-168

Newell G. Bringhurst is an instructor of history and political science at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. He is the author of Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism; Brigham Young and the Expanding American Frontier; Fawn McKay Brodie: A Biographer’s Life; and Visalia’s Fabulous Fox: A Theater Story. ...


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pp. 169-173

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090608
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252029479

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2004