It may be surprising to many to discover that a man known in Mormon journals as Black Pete served a mission for the LDS Church in 1831. (Back then, it was known simply as the “Church of Christ.”) Dr. Staker notes,
Black Pete is one of these individuals that goes out preaching. He joins three other individuals and they all go out as a group of four. They’re very interested in religious enthusiasm. That might be what ties them together, but what this also suggests is that since those that we know about were ordained elders such as John Murdock, it could be that Black Pete had been ordained an elder as well to go out and he’s assigned to preach just like these others are assigned to go out and preach.
In this episode, we’ll discuss his visits from a black angel, and some of the unusual religious practices he imprinted on Mormonism. We’ve already mentioned that he started speaking in tongues in Part 1 of our conversation, but in this episode, we’ll learn that Joseph Smith tamps down on these religious practices. However, missionaries from Kirtland convert Brigham Young, who re-introduces the practice of speaking in tongues in Kirtland! Pete also attempts to marry within the predominantly white community of Kirtland. Staker notes that interracial marriage in 1831
would be national news, and it did happen occasionally. It ended up in the national papers that someone married a black person, but Emma’s aunt had done exactly that.
GT: Emma Smith?
Mark: Emma Smith’s aunt Diantha Hale had married a Joseph Wallace, a black man.
GT: Oh I did not know that.
Mark: Nobody did. They kept it quiet. By law they had to announce it in the newspaper, the marriage, but they didn’t mention race in that official announcement.