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Black, White, and Mormon II: A Conference on Race
June 29 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
On June 8, 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Spencer W. Kimball’s revelation extending the lay priesthood to “all worthy male members . . . without regard for race or color.” To mark this event and analyze the Mormon Church’s ongoing efforts to achieve racial equality, the Tanner Humanities Center will host “Black, White, and Mormon II,” a multidisciplinary conference in collaboration with the College of Humanities’ Simmons Mormon Studies Professor Paul Reeve. This follows our 2015 conference on Mormonism and race that received national and international press coverage. Here, we expand these themes and examine new issues to investigate how the LDS Church sustains an ever-increasing multiracial and multicultural membership and to explore the impact of doctrinal change at the grassroots.
“Black, White, and Mormon II” will begin on June 29, 2018 with the Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture delivered by African American writer, historian, and activist Latter-day Saint Darius Gray. Gray joined the Mormon Church in 1964 and has been a central figure in pressing for racial change and serving as a voice for African American Mormons.
On June 30, 2018, scholarly and community panels will discuss how African American Mormons understand America’s current racial and religious climate, will examine the Mormon Church’s racial policies and practices and will explore the impact of the 1978 revelation. Panelists also will assess the Mormon Church’s progress on race at institutional and membership levels and consider what needs to happen to advance racial equality moving forward.
This conference is free and open to the public.
A 54-Year Journey Toward Racial Equality in the Mormon Church
Our keynote speaker at this conference will also coincide with this year’s Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture. Trained in broadcast journalism, at the University of Utah and Columbia University, Darius Aidan Gray worked for KSL radio and television during the late 60s and early 70s. He especially enjoyed documentary film production and was privileged to be placed on loan to UNICEF to film grassroots aid projects in several African countries.
Mr. Gray was Director of Development for the Department of Communications at Brigham Young University where his past business and broadcasting background(s) served him well. He co-hosted “Questions and Ancestors” a nationally aired program on genealogy.
He was the coauthor (along with Margaret Young) of an award-winning trilogy of novels about early Black Mormon pioneers entitled Standing On The Promises. Also with Margaret, he co-produced two documentary films, Jane Manning James: Your Sister In The Gospel and Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. The latter film was featured nationwide on the Documentary Channel.
In 2003, Mr. Gray was released as President of The Genesis Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having served for six years. The Genesis organization was established under the direction of The First Presidency and The Quorum of The Twelve Apostles in 1971, with the goal of providing support to Black Latter-day Saints.