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Black and Mormon Paperback – February 27, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reversed a longstanding ban by granting the lay priesthood to all worthy men, regardless of race. In this book, eight scholars weigh in on the history of the ban, the present role of African-Americans in Mormon life and the residue of earlier racism. The editors claim that despite the 1978 revelation, the Church has done little to distance itself from damaging folk doctrines of the past, and "needs to forthrightly confront its past history of racial exclusion and discrimination." The book's best essays are Alma Allred's fascinating analysis of racial themes in LDS scripture; Armand Mauss's summary of post-1978 developments; and Ken Driggs's on-the-ground report of a successful, racially mixed Mormon congregation in Atlanta. Like other scholarly anthologies on narrow topics, this collection contains some repetition of ideas, case reports and anecdotes, but it is one of the most far-reaching studies of black Mormons to date.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Bringhurst and Smith have edited an outstanding series of essays on the problems of racism among the Mormons and the exclusion of African American men from the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition (February 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252073568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252073564
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Darron T. Smith is a frequent political and cultural commentator on various issues of U.S. based issues of race, racism, and discrimination in forums ranging from Religion Dispatches, The New York Times and Chicago Tribune op-ed to ESPN's Outside the Lines. His research spans a wide myriad of topics on race including healthcare disparities, Religious studies, Race & Sports, and Race, Adoption and the Black Family. His current research focuses on health care workforce discrimination involving African American physicians and physician assistants. He is the co-author of White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption and co-editor of Black and Mormon. His current book, The Truth About the Honor Code: When Race & Religion Collide is scheduled for release in 2013.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Black and Mormon proves to be a highly interesting book that relates directly with the LDS and their relationship with the black people of the United States throughout their history. The key element of this book lies around then President Kimball's revelation that blacks who have been denied priesthood rites by their church due to their ethnic heritage, was finally granted that right on 8 June 1978. This book is collection of essays that deals with the priesthood ban imposed by the LDS leadership during the late 1840s, its effects on the black members and after the banning have been removed, how that racist past still affected the church today.

All essays written here proves to be well written, well research and highly informative to the subject at hand. Some of the authors are black LDS members and their words and perceptions may surprise many of the white LDS members who may read this book. Many of the essays overlapped each other due to the narrow subject matter and sometimes, that helped to reinforced the information. The book is only 172 pages and that includes the index and footnotes pages.

It is no great secret that LDS practiced overt racism toward their black members before the ban was lifted and relied on old near-mythological doctrines to denied many of their black membership, the full fellowship into their ranks. The book explained these doctrines very clearly and how they became part of the accepted practice of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until that fateful day in June 1978.

The book also sadly reflects on LDS refusal to confront their own racist history and how such attitude hampered their efforts to deal with these problems they have with their non-white members - especially blacks.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Davers on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
I knew Darron as Elder Smith in Michigan. We were both missionaries in the Saginaw area at the same time. He was an awesome missionary, and I was frequently impressed with him and how he brought his preexisting talents into play (including his martial arts expertise) to forward the word of God one way or another. I remember well that he had an exceptional way with people and was a perfect example of a true LDS Saint in my opinion.

Sadly for me, it seemed he did not think so highly of me. I was shocked and really honestly confused when he called me a racist to my face. I never understood what I had done or said or how I acted, if I had acted any differently around him than anyone else, to be accused of such a repugnant title. I've thought about that many many times since then (25 years ago) as the description hurt me very much and has always been so polar opposite to how anyone else has described me before then, and since, regardless of their race/ethic/religion/politics. I am still quite sorry that I gave him that impression.

I can only conclude that others have probably given him that impression throughout his life despite (like me) having also held him in the highest regard as a human being and a child of God, bar none.

That said, I am so grateful that his testimony in the gospel is still so firm. It has also meant so much to me, and of course that does not include the mormon-folklore promoted by Alvin R Dyer or Mark E Petersen or others ... falsehoods that are not in harmony with revelations through Joseph Smith. I hope someday when we slough off this mortal shell that he can look upon my bared soul and see that whatever he felt earned me that title when he and I were acquainted is not, will not, be there in any way.
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Newell Bringhurst is a past president of the Mormon History Association who teaches history and political science at the College of the Sequoias in visalia, California. He is also the author/editor of Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People Within Mormonism (Contributions to the Study of Religion), The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy (Volume 1), Brigham Young and the Expanding American Frontier (Library of American Biography Series), Fawn McKay Brodie: A Biographer's Life, etc. Darron Smith is a black convert to the LDS church, and author of White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption and 'What Matters Most: A Story of Human Struggle and Potential."

The authors write in the Introduction to this 2004 book, "The primary goal of this volume is to inform the reader about the current situation of African-American Latter-day Saints as it has evolved over the past quarter century. But it is hoped that these essays will also stimulate continual open discussion concerning persistent problems involving race and racism, along with prospects for future progress.
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