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!)
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.)
In March 1847, Brigham Young was quoted as being favorably aware of Q. Walker Lewis, a black Elder in the LDS Church in Boston. But in February 1852, he is quoted as saying that black men will never hold the priesthood. What caused this remarkable change in Brigham Young? Listen in to find out! Click here if you’d like a transcript, or you can get one at Amazon too!
I just set up an interview with Mark Staker at the Church History Library. He’s an expert on Kirtland. We’ll be talking about Black Pete for #BlackHistoryMonth, as well as the history of Kirtland. Do you have any questions you’d like me to ask him?
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.
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.
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!
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.