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*Should LDS Church Apologize for Racism? (Part 5 of 5)

The LDS Church prohibited black men and women from receiving priesthood rites in the temple until 1978.  Should the Church apologize for past racism?  Emmy award winning director Loki Mulholland will weigh in on that issue.

Loki:  The Church already is doing, believe it or not, work and reparations, in the respect of the work that they’re putting forth and the resources for the Freedmen’s Bureau and so forth, and the economic help that they’re providing in cooperation with NAACP, and doing these things. It might not be the reparations people want to see. But, I think there is something there, by the way. But what’s the harm in apologizing? This is a political issue at that point and regard. So, the reason the U.S. doesn’t apologize for slavery is because then that makes them accountable. Congress doesn’t apologize, because once you do, then you recognize that you’re actually accountable. Well, don’t we actually believe in fixing mistakes? Don’t we actually believe in that sort of stuff? Isn’t that the whole principle of the Gospel?

GT:  Elder Oaks doesn’t, apparently.

Loki:  First, you have to recognize it as a sin. So, a wrong was done. President Oaks is a lawyer, so let’s just be fair, and we all know that.  I don’t mean to say anything bad about lawyers.  At the end of the day, if a wrong was done, then yes, we need to apologize for that wrong. Then, okay, well, how do we fix that? What does that look like? Sometimes it’s just an apology. There’s nothing wrong with apologizing, even if you don’t think you’re wrong. If someone else was injured, you might not have meant it. That’s not what your intent was, but you apologize for some of the simplest things. In this regard, why not apologize. I just don’t understand why that wouldn’t be the case. We’ve pretty much come out and said this wasn’t a Church policy, but we allowed it to continue. My understanding is there’s no written document anywhere saying that blacks shouldn’t have the priesthood. There was nothing at the pulpit, the proverbial pulpit, if you will, in General Conference.

Do you think the Church should apologize for the temple and priesthood ban?  Check out our conversation….

Should the Church apologize for the race ban?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Emmy award winning director Loki Mulholland!

531: Can White People Talk about Racism?

530: Films Combating Racism Directed by a Mormon

529: Son of a Civil Rights Icon

528: End of Slavery (in Utah???)

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End of Slavery (in Utah???) Part 1 of 5

Did you know slavery was still legal in Utah until 2020?  We’ll talk about the drive to remove this provision in the Utah Constitution with an Emmy-award winning director, Loki Mulholland who directed the film “The End of Slavery.”

Loki:  My latest project is called “The End of Slavery: the Fight for Amendment C.” It’s about the fight to actually take the language of slavery out of the Utah State Constitution.  When the Utah State Constitution was written, they actually wrote in the language of the 13th Amendment, which was that slavery is abolished, except as a punishment for crime for those who’ve been duly convicted. What that means is that you can be re-enslaved again, not you and I, but African Americans, because that’s what it was written for. So, that was created as a nod to the South to re-enslave people, to put them into penal farms, and then do convict-leasing. So, what they would do is, if you were African American, you could be arrested for something like loitering. Loitering meant that you didn’t have a job and you were just kind of hanging around. Well, the problem was, is that white people weren’t going to hire black people. So, you couldn’t get a job. So, now you get arrested, you’re put into a penal farm.  You’re leased back out to the mines, to the railroads, to the farms, to the plantations, and worked like a slave all over again.  This is all for the black folks.

GT:  It’s not just picking up trash on the side of the road.

Loki:  No, it’s not just picking up trash on the streets, not things like you think about today. But, that was really the start of kind of the jailing institutions that we have today.  It was just another way, not only to re-enslave people, but also to take away the right to vote. Voting is power and African-Americans, at that point, had the right to vote, but we need to take that away from them. So, that became, also, part of that whole system. What was interesting was, Utah was founded 30 years after slavery ended. The Civil War was done and everything. Yet, for some reason, they wrote that in there. So, Sandra Holland, she is the first black female elected official in the State of Utah. Right now, she’s the only black elected official in the state of Utah.

GT:  We’ve got Burgess Owens, technically.

Loki:  But, he’s not a state official.

GT:  Okay. He’s a federal official.

Loki:  He’s a federal official. Okay, so. This was brought to her by a reporter who said, “Hey, did you know this was still in here?” Colorado had already passed this. Utah is not the only state that had this in their state constitution, but they took it out in Colorado. So, they’re like, “Wow, we need to do this here in Utah.” So, a couple of years back, I think I want to say it was 2019 or so, 2018, 2019, the bill was passed in the House, which is where she is, and then it went to the Senate the next year. Then, it was on the ballot for the State of Utah to vote whether to take it out or not. The interesting thing I thought when I was making the film, was that in the State Capitol, I wanted to get a shot of Sandra, standing in front of the Constitution, we’d rack focus from her to the Constitution, like chiseled on the wall. I don’t know why I thought would be chiseled on the wall or something. But, there was no copy of the Constitution anywhere in the Capitol Building. I’m like, “Well, no wonder why no one knew that was there.”

Oregon is the next state to try to take slavery out of their constitution (and there are other states with this issue too.)  Were you aware of slavery was technically legal? Check out our conversation….

Slavery was technically legal in Utah until Utah voters amended the state constution to outlaw the practice. Loki Mulholland tells more in his new film “The End of Slavery.”

Don’t miss our other conversations on Black Mormon History.

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Swimsuits, Gold Medals, & Blacks (Part 3 of 9)

Did you know there was an official swimsuit of the Los Angeles Temple?

Casey:  The temple swimsuit, which like I said, those two things seem a little incongruent. This is the temple swimsuit, for those of you that are out there. There was a lady named Rose Marie Reid, who was a member of the Church. She grew up in Idaho, and moved to Southern California, married a guy who was Jewish, and became the top swimsuit designer in the world and she ran this business where she…

GT:  This was in the 50’s, probably.

Casey:  This was in the 40’s and 50’s, yeah.  So, she designed swimsuits for Hollywood stars for high profile people, and was very, very well known.

GT:  Marilyn Monroe would have been one of them.

Casey:  Yeah, and, basically, in the early 1950s, they’re raising funds for the Los Angeles temple. Rose Marie designed the swimsuit, specifically to raise money for the temple. For whatever reason, it became known by the name the temple swimsuit. Apparently, this was so popular that someone stole a version of it and got caught and there was a whole scandal in the news relating to it because her swimsuits were so desirable. But Rose Marie Reid, eventually, she had the Relief Society women in her ward sew the sequins on the on the suits that they sold to raise funds for it.

Did you know that the first pioneers that entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 received a gold medal, including a black man in the company of Brigham Young?

Casey:  This is an object that’s in this book that’s never been photographed before. But everybody that was in the vanguard pioneer company of 1847, they rounded up in 1897, the 50th anniversary and gave them a gold medal, basically, to say, “This person was part of the vanguard company, and we want to recognize and honor them.” Well, in the middle of those celebrations, a guy shows up at the Deseret News office, a black guy and said, “Hey, I was part of the vanguard company, too. His name was Green Flake. They gave Green Flake a medal and honored him as part of the vanguard company.

GT:  He was the one that drove Brigham Young’s wagon, right?

Casey:  Yeah, Green’s background is fascinating. When you dive into it, like I said, it kind of shows the complexities linked to race and the Church in the 19th century. For instance, Green is a slave owned by the Flake family, the Isaac Flake family that owns a plantation in Mississippi. Missionaries come, they convert the Flakes, and there’s variants in the sources, but the general story that’s told is that when the Flakes converted. They decided to migrate to Nauvoo, and they freed their slaves. But Green is 16 years old at the time, and he elects to stay with the Flakes. At that point, there’s some question as to, is he a family friend or is he a slave?

At that point, Brigham Young intervenes and says, “Look, Green has a wife and Green has kids. He can’t just pick up his life and move down there because you guys need him to,” which suggests that in Brigham Young’s mind, Green was not a slave. This is all in the 1850’s before slavery is outlawed, but it kind of does show that Brigham Young’s attitudes towards slavery, servitude and black members of the Church was more complex now than we depict it.

Dr. Casey Griffiths, author of 50 Relics of the Restoration, will tell us more about some of these relics of the restoration.  Check out our conversation….

The LA Temple had a fundrasier designed by Hollywood’s best.
Sequins were sewn on by the Relief Society!

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Casey!

520: Recycling Hofmann Forgeries

519: Mormon Interfaith Council