The following are the notes for the talk I am giving in sacrament meeting today. It is a rough outline of sources with a few points in between. I will hopefully patch it together in some coherent manner. I doubt I will read all of them completely. I have also included my concluding paragraph, which is surely overwrought; but how often do you get to speak on the priesthood revelation at Sacrament Meeting?
Deuteronomy 24:17-18 (HT: David G. at the JI)
Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness,” April 2006, Conference
Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?
Joseph Smith on Race
Joseph Smith, Sr., Patriarchal Blessing to Elijah Able, summer-fall, 1836
[T]he Lord hast had his eye upon thee, and brought thee through straits and thou hast come to be reconed with the saints of the most High. Though hast been ordained an Elder and anointed to secure thee against the power of the destroyer. Thou shalt see his power in laying waste the nations, & the wicked slaying the wicked, while blood shall run down the streets like water, and thy heart shall weep over their calamities. Angels shall visit thee and thou shalt receive comfort. They shall call thee blessed and deliver thee from thine enemies. They shall break thy bands and keep thee from afflictions. Thy name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Jane Manning James, Autobiography, LDS Archives
The frost fell on us so heavy, it was like a light fall of snow. We arose early and started on our way walking through that frost with our bare feet, until the sun rose and melted it away. But we went on our way rejoicing, singing hymns, and thanking God for his infinite goodness and mercy to us–in blessing us as he had, protecting us from all harm, answering our prayers, and healing our feet. In course of time, we arrived at La Harpe, Illinois–about thirty miles from Nauvoo. At La Harpe, we came to a place where there was a very sick child. We administered to it, and the child was healed. I found after [that] the elders had before this given it up, as they did not think it could live.
Well, what happened?
Brigham Young, meeting minutes, 26 Mar. 1847
its nothing to do with the blood for of one blood has God made all flesh, we have to repent (and) regain what we [h]av lost-we [h]av one of the best Elders an African in Lowell-[i.e., Walker Lewis].
New wine of the Restoration in the Old bottles of sectarian racism.
Seed of Cain
Seed of Ham
Len Hope, Magnolia Alabama, met missionaries in 1913, then converted after the serving in WWI (thanks Margaret!)
[after facing a white mob that said they were going to lynch him]So I went down the next morning, down to Church where they was having a conference and told them my experience and what had happened. …I thought I was going to see them with hung down head and sad carriage, but what do you think I saw? Some of the [most] beautiful smiles that the Latter-day Saints give. They said, “Brother Hope, this is just the persecution of the devil. We all have to endure this.” I thought to myself, these beautiful people, If these…people can endure persecution, why couldn’t I? I just felt like could [have] been hung to the limb and shot full of holes…I can’t doubt the gospel the least bit, and I know it. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of the living God.
None of Len Hope’s or Jane Manning’s descendents stayed in the Church.
President Hugh B. Brown
Margaret Young, speaking of her forthcoming documentary at the JI
During our last editing session, as we prepared special features, we worked on one [segment] in which Darius Gray talked about his stretch of inactivity. That stretch came about after some overt prejudicial acts in 1972, which resulted in ALL of the young Black men Darius was working with ceasing any association with the Church. As we viewed the footage, tears came to Darius’s eyes, and he went into even more detail than what we had revealed on film. He talked about the pain of watching those young men leave, and about his own sense of betrayal. Those he had counted on to support him and the young men had fallen through, and the hurt was great enough that Darius quit church for several years (though he never really left it, he is quick to point out).
Leonard J. Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 176-177.
On June 1, 1978, at a regular temple meeting of the general authorities, Kimball asked the members of the First Presidency and the Twelve to stay for a private conference. In a spirit of fasting and prayer, they formed a prayer circle. Kimball opened by saying he felt impressed to pray to the Lord and asked their permission to be “mouth.” He went to the altar. Those in attendance said that as he began his earnest prayer, they suddenly realized it was not Kimball’s prayer, but the Lord speaking through him. A revelation was being declared. Kimball himself realized that the words were not his but the Lord’s. During that prayer some of the Twelve – at least two have said so publicly – were transported into a celestial atmosphere, saw a divine presence and the figures of former president of the church (portraits of whom were hanging on the walls around them) smiling to indicate their approval and sanction. Others acknowledged the voice of the Lord coming, as with the prophet Elijah, “through the still, small voice.” The voice of the Spirit followed their earnest search for wisdom and understanding.
At the end of the heavenly manifestation Kimball, weeping for joy, confronted the quorum members, many of them also sobbing, and asked if they sustained this heavenly instruction. Embracing, all nodded vigorously and jubilantly their sanction. There had been a startling and commanding revelation from God-an ineffable experience.
Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike Unto God,” BYU, August 17-19, 1978
We have revelations that tell us that the gospel is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people before the second coming of the Son of Man. And we have revelations which recite that when the Lord comes he will find those who speak every tongue and are members of every nation and kindred, who will be kings and priests, who will live and reign on earth with him a thousand years. That means, as you know, that people from all nations will have the blessings of the house of the Lord before the Second Coming.
We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. We have seen what the words say and have said to ourselves, “Yes, it says that, but we must read out of it the taking of the gospel and the blessings of the temple to the Negro people, because they are denied certain things.” There are statements in our literature by the early brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.
Jeffrey R. Holland, PBS Interview
One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. …[M]y earlier colleagues.., I’m sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. …But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. … At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that doctrine existed. I think, to the extent that I know anything about it, as one of the newer and younger ones to come along, … we simply do not know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place.
What do we do with good people that said horrible things?
Apostle Delbert Stapley
Thirty years ago this week, the Lord our God stretched forth his mighty arm and shattered the old bottles of sectarianism and racism. The new wine of the Restoration then poured forth, as intended, upon every nation kindred tongue and people. We now stand three decades removed from that moment. I am encouraged by the degree to which we have forsaken our sins, yet the shards of the broken bottles are still sharp and painful to the touch. Many question whether we should simply forget them and move forward. While I understand the desire for forward-looking Kingdom building, too many of our people are unwittingly pricked by the broken fragments of our past and their wounds, frequently left untreated for shame or ignorance, fester and ultimately overcome faith, friends, and sometimes even family. No! We cannot forget. Just as we have memorialize the great sacrifice of the British, who pulled their handcarts on winter’s plains – just as we remember those Yankee’s who were beaten, raped and chased under order of extermination – we will not forget our great black pioneers, who persevered despite our racism and who watched their children be chased from Zion. No, we will not forget. And I pray in the name of Jesus Christ that we might be worthy to stand together as Nephi declared – all alike, both black and white, Jew and gentile – to see God’s Kingdom fill the whole world.