When we premiered Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons last Saturday at the LDS Film Festival, our senior editor, Jim Hughes, sat by a Caucasian man who wept throughout much of the film. Jim didn’t know who the man was until Darius Gray (my co-director/producer), a proud Black man who joined the Mormon Church in 1964, finished up the q/a section by saying, “I need to acknowledge someone. Dr. Dodge, are you in the audience?” Donald Dodge (seated by Jim) stood up, weeping again. Darius could barely speak. “This is one of the missionaries who taught me,” he said.
Brother Dodge had given us pictures of himself as a missionary, which are in the doc, but I had never met him.
I don’t know everything that made him weep throughout the film. Memories? A sense of the importance of something which had seemed common those many years ago? Joy? Both of the missionaries who broke the news to Darius in 1964 that he wouldn’t be able to hold the priesthood gave us photos for the documentary. Both remain his close friends. Both remain firm in the faith.
My main thought, as one who inhabits the Provo MTC many times a week, was “Look at how mighty the effect of one person has been.” Which person? Maybe Donald Dodge, who chose to serve a mission, and (with his companion) asked their mission president if it would be all right to teach a Negro. Maybe Bill Price (the other missionary). Certainly Darius Gray, who (though still very ill) stands as a stalwart in the faith he joined forty-four years ago.
Darius got a letter from his non-LDS sister recently. She compared him to Martin Luther King Jr. A pretty good compliment, coming from a sibling.
Look at how mighty the effect of one person has been.
For me, there were other images in the doc that make me cry. The family of Elder Marion D. Hanks sent us photos of him. He has had a profound effect on me and on my family. (In fact, one of Bruce’s Christmas gifts to our children this year was a DVD of a devotional Elder Hanks presented years ago. Our children know Elder Hanks only as he is now, in his aged condition. We wanted them to see the man we knew.)
President Kimball. (How wonderful to hear his voice!) President McKay—the Prophet of my youth. Paul Gill, weeping as he answers the question, “If there was one thing you could change, what would that be?” with the words, “If I could let people know what the gospel means to me—if I had that ability to tell them of the message of Christ—that simple yet powerful message, I would be a happy camper.”
Darius and I have been inundated by requests to know when the DVD will be available, and when the film will be screened again. Updated here:
DVD: I DON’T KNOW (We’re working on special features.)
Next Utah screening: Saturday March 8th, 11:00 a.m. in the Egyptian Theater in Ogden, as part of the wonderful Foursite Film Festival
Texas Black Film Festival (Dallas), Friday 2/1 at 2:00.
San Diego Black Film Festival, Saturday afternoon (2/2) late (I’m guessing 5:00 p.m.; it’ll be posted on the website by Friday).
I’ve sent notices to institutes in the areas we’re screening, but I’m not sure how far they’ll go. If you live around Dallas or San Diego, please spread the word. Here are links to three reviews: