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Black Pete’s Mormon Mission in 1831

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.

GT:  Wow!

Please listen here!  Here’s a link to a transcript (also on Amazon).  A video is found below.

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Black Pete: Former Slave Becomes First Black Mormon

I really enjoyed sitting down with Dr. Mark Staker of the LDS Church History Library.  Mark is a historian and has written about the first community that accepted the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio.  I was surprised to learn that a former slave by the name of Black Pete was one of the leaders of this early Mormon community!  In part 1 of our interview, we’ll talk about Black Pete’s introduction of speaking in tongues and his leadership in the fledgling Mormon community in 1830-1831.  I think it’s a great interview!  Please listen.

Here’s a transcript, or you can get one on Amazon.com as well!  Check out the video below!

 

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Paul Reeve: Modern Lessons

It’s time to conclude #BlackHistoryMonth, and here’s my latest conversation with Dr. Paul Reeve!  In recent years the LDS Church has published a series of essays with a goal of giving Latter-day Saints good information regarding many aspects of LDS History.  These essays are well footnoted, and seem to have been written by historians.  I asked Paul if he helped craft the essay and he said that he played a major role in crafting the essay.  Please listen to him describe his role.  I think this is quite a scoop!

I also asked Paul to talk about race issues in our day, including the ban on children of gay parents and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at President Trump’s recent inauguration.  He was very candid in his opinions and I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to this interview!

Click here for a transcript of this interview (also available on Amazon).  If you’re interested in the entire interview, here is a copy of the entire interview.  Here’s a Kindle version, or if you’d like a paperback copy, click this link!

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Dating the LDS Priesthood and Temple Ban

We’ve been talking a lot about the ban, but when did the ban actually begin?  Warner McCary seems to be the last person who might have been ordained as late as 1846.  Apostle Parley P. Pratt privately said blacks were cursed with regards to priesthood, and Brigham Young spoke forcefully that blacks were cursed in an 1852 address to the Utah Legislature.  However, in 1879, church leaders didn’t know how to respond to Elijah Abel’s request to be sealed to his wife in the temple, and as late as 1921, Apostle David O. McKay didn’t even know that a ban existed.  When did the ban actually happen?  We asked Dr. Paul Reeve that question.  Let’s listen in on our conversation….  (You can get a transcript here on our website, or at Amazon.com!)

[polldaddy poll=9675177]

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Becoming a Fanboy of Orson Pratt

Apostle Orson Pratt

With the last-lasting priesthood and temple ban that ended in 1978, Mormons have a poor record with regards to race relations.  I talked about reasons why Brigham Young changed from support of ordination of blacks to opposition my last episode, but Apostle Orson Pratt is a bright spot in Mormon history given his vocal support for black civil and voting rights.  Slavery was legalized in Utah in 1852 because of support by Mormon prophet Brigham Young.  However, his apostle/legislator Orson Pratt not only went on record to oppose slavery, but was a proponent of black voting rights!  Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah describes his findings of recently discovered speeches of the 1852 Utah Territorial Legislative session.  My mind was blown to learn that a decade prior to the Civil War, Pratt was a proponent of voting rights for African Americans, and said “angels will blush” if Utah passed the slavery bill.  Please listen in!  You can get a transcript here, or at Amazon.  (There will be no video of this episode due to camera problems.)

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How Did Joseph Smith deal with Muslims?

Paul Reeve’s book, Religion of a Different Color, shows an editorial cartoon with a Mormon and children of different races and ethnic groups

It’s #BlackHistoryMonth and we’ve been discussing #BlackMormonHistory, but of course there are other marginalized groups, and I wanted to share a few quotes from my most recent podcast with Dr. Paul Reeve.  Lately President Trump has been in the news with his Muslim ban/not a ban on immigration into this country.  Paul Reeve wrote an Op Ed in the Deseret News saying Trump’s Muslim ban looks like Mormon ban.  I interviewed Paul in January, and here are some quotes from the podcast. (Click here to listen on Stitcher.)
Continue reading How Did Joseph Smith deal with Muslims?

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How Did Others Deal with Slavery? #BlackHistoryMonth

Dr. Paul Reeve – Prof of History, University of Utah.

Mormons are familiar with stories of persecutions in Missouri back in the 1830s.  Why were Mormons so persecuted?  It turns out that the people of Missouri were concerned that Mormons were trying to start a Slave Rebellion.  On the other hand, Joseph Smith was known to be against the abolitionist movement.  Could both positions be true?  We asked these questions to Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah and he gives his answers which may surprise you.  Here are a few excerpts from my interview with Paul.

Continue reading How Did Others Deal with Slavery? #BlackHistoryMonth

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How Mormons Became a Racial Category #BlackHistoryMonth

Dr. Paul Reeve – Prof of History, University of Utah.

In today’s world, Mormonism is seen as a predominantly white church, but in Joseph Smith’s day, it was perceived as just the opposite.  Mormons were considered so different back then that many scientists and doctors thought a new race was coming from the Great Basin Kingdom.  How did outsiders get such strange ideas?  Dr. Paul Reeve, professor of history at the University of Utah will help us answer that question.

Please click on the link to listen, but I wanted to share a few quotes from Paul that I really enjoyed from the interview. Continue reading How Mormons Became a Racial Category #BlackHistoryMonth

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Race is a Touchy Subject #BlackHistoryMonth

As part of #BlackHistoryMonth, we continue our conversation with Margaret Young and she tells about her attempts to get her play about black Mormon Pioneer Jane Manning James televised, (don’t forget to check out part 1 of our conversation), but the project was quashed as some executives were concerned about the topic, despite Jane’s faithfulness to the end of her life.

Margaret also discusses ways she and her family have tried to combat racism in her life, including a disappointing experience with a seminary teacher.  She talks about her experiences learning about the lifting of the ban in 1978, and, when asked about what we can learn from Jane’s life, says

“I want Jane’s story to be certainly an example how far we still need to come.  If there are people who regard blacks as less than, their hearts must change.  Jane is an example of one who persevered through trials that we could hardly imagine, and did it through her relationship with God and praised God throughout.”

Listen in, and find out who we will be talking to next!

If you’re interested in a transcript, click here!  (You can also get one for your Kindle at Amazon.com!)

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“Is there no blessing for me?” #BlackHistoryMonth

Rick Bennett, Darius Gray, and Margaret Young

I’m excited to post our first podcast!  I interviewed Margaret Young, a professor of English and Literature at BYU on the life of black Mormon Pioneer Jane Manning James.  Listen to Margaret describe Jane’s conversion in Wilton, Connecticut, Jane’s travel by foot to Nauvoo, and her intimate relationship with every prophet from Joseph Smith through her death under President Wilford Woodruff.  Especially interesting is Jane’s unusual sealing to the Prophet Joseph.  It’s a truly inspiring tale, and I thank Margaret for sitting down with me to discuss Jane’s life.  I hope you’ll come back when I post part 2 of our discussion with Margaret about her experiences dealing with race.

Continue reading “Is there no blessing for me?” #BlackHistoryMonth