Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

 

I once was gifted a stack of old newspapers from my father. It sounds like a prank, but I have a predilection for historic moments and he knew I would appreciate going through a pile of monumental headlines. These are stories from events that shaped the world before I was born: Kennedy’s assassination, Nixon resigns. They did not directly affect me, but they made the world I live in. One of my most treasured items is a front-page article that reads “LDS Head Says Blacks to Achieve Full Status.” It’s an article from September of 1972 that quotes Prophet and President David O. McKay saying, “The Negro will achieve full status; we’re just waiting for that time.”newspaper

It took six years of public protests from NCAA athletes who refused to play BYU and countless private meetings between LDS General Authorities and Mormons who were people of color. We now know it also took a new prophet, closed-door maneuvering, and months of prayer on the part of President Spencer W. Kimball.[1] This work changed the face of the LDS Church community and was most assuredly to our benefit because equality affects us all. The impact of the 1978 revelation cannot be overstated.

As Mormons, we should recognize the role our church played in relegating people of color to second-class citizens, both in our country and our faith. Our leaders argued forcefully against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it took more than a decade before anything similar came to the organizational structure of our church.[2] As we move through the month of February, we have the opportunity to honor and celebrate Black History Month. Ordain Women will be sharing blog posts, both from our own supporters and from other sources. This is an opportunity to learn about our place in this history and how that history shapes the church and community we live in today. I hope each of us will take the time to read and seriously consider what is shared, and that we will join the conversation; that we will ponder deeply where we can be better members of our heavenly family and then we will act accordingly.


[1] Edward L. Kimball, “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood,” BYU Studies 47 no. 2 (2008).

Debra Jenson serves as chair of the Ordain Women executive board.