In 1973, a recently baptized African-American man from Selma, Alabama, taught by a fellow soldier in the military, took the unlikely step of attending Ricks College and then transferring to BYU. While there, Robert Lee Stevenson became student body vice president—the first black student at BYU to do so. The news made headlines, and Robert was asked by a New York Times reporter what it was like to be a black man at a white university. He responded: “I don’t know, because I’m not a black person at a white university. I’m a Mormon at a Mormon university.”
That pioneering courage, and a life-long commitment to the gospel, followed Robert from his days as a military policeman to becoming the owner of herbal company Nature’s Sunshine. He passed away on 2 February 2016. Jon Anderson, now president of the Powder Springs Georgia Stake, came to know Robert 17 years ago in a congregation in Carrollton, Georgia. Says Anderson, “He had a tremendous influence on the growth of the Church in this area, and especially among African-Americans. He was a courageous, faithful Latter-day Saint.”
Read more about the life and conversion of Robert Lee Stevenson at https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/02/four-who-serve?lang=eng
Nearly 500 people recently gathered for the inaugural Canadian Black History Summit held in a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The free conference, held April 16, 2016, was co-hosted by the nonprofit FamilySearch International (the genealogical arm of the Church) and the Ontario Black History Society.
The inaugural event provided an opportunity for participants to connect with experts on black genealogy and history, specifically the Freedmen’s Bureau Project.
For the full article see:
Hundreds Gather at First Canadian Black History Summit
First Canadian Black History Summit Makes History
See Book of Mormon Central article on ancient context of “white and delightsome”
Regarding 2 Nephi 30:6, this article notes:
The Prophet Joseph Smith made an important textual emendation to this passage in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon, where the phrase “a white and a delightsome people” was changed to “a pure and a delightsome people.” According to Royal Skousen, “The 1840 change of white to pure seems to be a conscious one and was probably made by Joseph Smith as part of his editing of the 1840 edition. The change does not appear to be an accidental error based on any visual or phonetic resemblance between the two words.”
… and the article also notes:
Why might Joseph Smith have made this textual change in 2 Nephi 30? Skousen elaborated that “the editing change to pure may represent a conscious attempt at avoiding what was perceived as a difficult reading (the Nephites were supposed to be light skinned), which therefore explains why the change from white to pure was made here—and only here—in 2 Nephi 30:6.”9 In other words, Joseph Smith may very well have recognized the possible racial undertones in this passage if interpreted that way and ultimately wished to avoid them.
While it is certainly possible that this change reflected the racial attitudes of early members of the Church, who assumed many of the views of their 19th century environment,10 Tvedtnes argued convincingly that the change may have occurred to emphasize that the text is speaking of a spiritual, not biological, condition.
See the link for the full article. This photo in the article of people dressed in robes for baptisms conveys the spiritual meaning of purity and the visual white of the clothing along with the warmth and vibrancy of faces in different shades of brown.
Article on LDS.org 6 Jan 2016:
“June 14, 1989, the government of Ghana announced a ban on all meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Meetinghouses were locked, and foreign missionaries were given one week to leave the country. Church leaders authorized members in Ghana to hold sacrament meetings in their homes. The “freeze,” as this ban came to be called, tested the resolve of Latter-day Saints in Ghana. Many Church members were criticized by their friends for persisting in their faith, and a few were arrested for questioning.”
For the rest of the story and videos on related topics, see:
Ghanaian Saints and the Freeze
The groundbreaking for the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple is scheduled for Friday, February 12, 2016.
Africa currently has three temples in operation — in Ghana, Johannesburg and Nigeria — and two others have been announced in the Ivory Coast and Durban, South Africa.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced that temple groundbreakings will occur on two continents in February, in Africa and South America.
Ceremonies of turning over shovels of dirt to signal the beginning of construction will be held for the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple and the Barranquilla Colombia Temple.
Both temples were announced at the Church’s October 2011 general conference.
Attendance at these ceremonies is by invitation only, with the general public invited to view the proceedings live from local meetinghouses.
Please read this powerful story of Yeah Samake, a Mormon leader in Mali who is working with the moral majority of Muslims to secure a democracy. They are fighting against Al Qaeda and others who strive to kidnap Islam.
See also his comments of the importance of President Obama’s 2008 election and ongoing opportunities; and the role that Mitt Romney has taken and could yet take in helping his country and ours.
Read http://www.patheos.com/Mormon/Pastor-to-Pastor-Margaret-Blair-Young-09-18-2012 for the article by Maragaret Blair Young. Here are excerpts:
“Yes, there are children of light and children of darkness, but the distinction is not based on skin color, but on their reception of the Word. And even with the children of darkness who turn away from the Word, God works earnestly for their repentance from their evil ways. God yearns for their return unto the embrace of Creation” (Pastor Cecil Murray in Twice Tested by Fire).
Just before Pastor Murray came to BYU, he met with Gordon B. Hinckley. In that meeting, President Hinckley offered him an apology for the LDS Church’s participation in slavery and in racism—using the same spirit Pastor Murray had urged me to use when I approached my angry son. In truth, Dr. Murray himself had some cause for anger; he had personally been confronted by the past Mormon teaching that Blacks were cursed. In an email on April 7, 2007, he told me, “In the Air Force I first encountered this teaching when stationed at Thule, Greenland, and lodging with two Mormons. They reminded me of this teaching constantly.”
Certainly, many things led President Hinckley to speak boldly against racism during April Conference, 2006. Perhaps Pastor Murray even had an effect. President Hinckley said: “[N]o man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple 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?”
This is the tribute Pastor Murray paid to his fellow pastor, President Gordon B. Hinckley:
President Hinckley is a true messenger of our Lord. Two years ago, I was invited to Salt Lake City by the LDS Church, and President Hinckley took his personal time to sit with our small group that was touring the many ministries and apologized to me in front of the group. That was amazing! Now the [LDS] Church pushes Blacks to learn their lineage via the Church. That will open eyes and doors that will open new avenues of life.
See Untold Story of Black Mormons – 9 minute You Tube overview in the Long Trailer where Pastor Murray recounts his conversation with President Hinckley.