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David O. McKay Diaries – “Blacks”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Blacks.” You can view other subjects here.

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Fri., 14 Sep., 1945:

“See letters from President [William S.] Erekson [Cottonwood Stake] relative to one Harold Lamoni Hofkine and the question of whether or not he should hold the Priesthood because of alleged negro blood in his veins.”  [No letter included in diary.]

Fri., 10 Oct., 1947:

“3:20 p.m.–negro lady, Mrs. Frank (Cora) Turner of 549 Cooper Street, Ogden, Utah called at the office to discuss the question of having her deceased husband baptized by proxy.  It seems that he was studying the Gospel before he died, and now Mrs. turner wants to have this work done for him.  I explained our belief in this regard to her, and she stated that her church–the Methodists–held no such hope for their members.”

Wed., 17 Dec., 1947:

“Mrs. Frank Turner, negro lady who visited my office two or three weeks ago regarding the baptism by proxy for her deceased husband, called by telephone to say that Bishop Larson of the 29th Ward, Ogden, Utah, has advised her to wait a little while before having this work done.  In the meantime, Mrs. Turner said she would study and become active in the Ward.  (Mrs. Turner is not yet a member of the Church).”

Wed., 14 Apr., 1948:

“President Christiansen of the Emigration Stake called and asked for reference on the status of the Negro in the Church.  Bro. Simpson of the 27th Ward also called regarding this–gave him some references.”

Sun., 25 Apr., 1948:

“In the evening, met at my home a group of returned missionaries, guests of Conway and Emma Rae.  I talked to the group–among other things discussed the Negro question which seems to be coming up frequently these days.”

Fri., 25 Feb., 1949:

“Pres. Nielsen [Arizona] then discussed the race question that is coming before the Arizona State Legislature.  I said that no American citizen can say that legally the Legislature or any political organization has any right to have special legislation against any class; that it had been debated up here, and there were threats to punish any Hotel Manager who would discriminate against colored people, etc.  I said, the Church, however, cannot come out opposing the question, but the fact is that no matter what the law says, there is going to be discrimination against the colored people, and I advised Pres. Mecham to simply take the stand to let conditions remain as they are for the present without involving the Church in any way.  As it is we take the Negroes into the Church by baptism and let them come to meetings, but so far as intermarriage is concerned, legally they have the same right that every citizen has, but in practice we cannot affiliate, and for their own good they should not want to intermarry with the whites, and that I believe they do not want to, and let us not force that union upon them and upon us, but let us use our influence quietly. I said further that the South knows how to handle them and they do not have any trouble, and the colored people are better off down there–in California they are becoming very progressive and insolent in many cases.”

Tues., 9 Oct., 1951:

“Mr. and Mrs. William Schofield called at the office regarding their adopting a baby who has negro blood in her veins.  Brother Harold B. Lee, who had previously interviewed the couple, was asked by President McKay to take care of this matter.  Later, Brother Lee wrote a letter (now filed in First Presidency’s file) giving a history of the case and recommendations made by him.”

Wed., 6 Aug., 1952:

“8 a.m. Elder Henry D. Moyle, Bishop Jos. L. Wirthlin, Bishop Thorpe Isaacson, and Bishop Beuhner were received at my office by appointment at their request.  The following were considered:

1. Authorization given for the Presiding Bishopric to hold a meeting in connection with the October Conference, with bishoprics and others.

2. Approved the Presiding Bishopric’s recommendation that Bishops of Wards be permitted to conduct a meeting once each month with the Aaronic Priesthood separate from the Melchizedek Priesthood; the Melchizedek Priesthood would go to their respective meetings.

3. The Presiding Bishopric recommend that all young men who are worthy be ordained Elders before leaving for military duty.  Decided to give this further consideration.

4. Told the Presiding Bishopric to prepare a letter for the Presidency to sign, to go to the Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies and bishoprics, indicating that bishoprics should spend Priesthood meeting time with the Aaronic Priesthood. Once a month, however, they should meet with the High Priests quorum, and that quorum meeting should be held at a time not to conflict with their duties.

5. Agreed with the Bishopric that the Ward bishoprics should ordain boys to the Priesthood–not the advisers.  [What about the fathers?]

6. Approved the recommendation of the Presiding Bishopric that four lessons on the Constitution be included in the course of study for the Priests in 1952.

7. I told the Presiding Bishopric that negroes should not be invited to speak in sacrament meetings and at Firesides. 

(The above were presented to my counselors at the 9 a.m. First Presidency meeting–their approval was given to decisions made.)”

Tues., 30 Sep., 1952:

“At 8:30 a.m.–I met by appointment, at his request, Harold W. Bentley, Director of the Extension Division, University of Utah who called to discuss with me the Extension Division’s program problems, particularly with respect to the appearance of William Warfield–the negro singer–in the S. L. Tabernacle sometime in March.

Later, I took this matter up with my counselors, and it was decided that inasmuch as we had permitted Marian Anderson, a negro singer, [to] appear in a concert in the Tabernacle, there should be no objection to Mr. Warfield’s appearance, (The following handwritten addition in the typescript: “unless he be guilty of subversive activity”) I so notified Mr. Bentley by telephone.  It was suggested to him that he get in touch with Bishop Isaacson for further suggestions relative to this matter.

From 9 until 11 a.m. was engaged in the regular First Presidency’s meeting.

Among other items discussed, I reported the visit of Professor Bentley of the U of U with reference to the appearance of Wm. Warfield on the U of U.’s Master Minds and Artists series, March 12, 1952.  The brethren understood that Bishop Isaacson was to talk to the people at the University in charge of these programs, telling them that they should not contract for colored artists to appear in the Tabernacle.  In discussing the problem the Brethren had some question in their minds as to whether there was any real objection to permitting such performances.”

Sat., 15 Nov., 1952:

“In the evening at home, I received a telephone call from Elder Spencer W. Kimball from Nicaragua, Central America where he, under instructions from the First Presidency, is assisting in the establishing headquarters of the Central American Mission.  Elder Kimball recommended that (1) Nicaragua has been chosen as the headquarters of the Mission, (2) that the brother who has been acting as President of the Branch, be set apart as first counselor to Gordan M. Romney, President of the Mission.  (3) That seven countries be included in the Mission.  That work could go forward in all of the countries with the exception of two–where the ‘colored’ situation would be inhibitive of missionary work.  (4) That two lady missionaries be sent down immediately, one of whom should be able to do stenographic work.  Also that other missionaries be sent as soon as possible as those who are there now will soon be given releases.”

Fri., 20 Feb., 1953:

“8:45 a.m.  Mr. Max Carpenter, Manager of the Hotel Utah, called at the office at my request.  He expressed a willingness to serve on a committee of three to study parking conditions for this area, including Z.C.M.I. Hotel Utah and Zion’s Securities.  The other two members will be Orval Adams and L. Peirce Brady, representing Zion’s Securities.

I then called to Mr. Carpenter’s attention a letter just received from a Mr. Richard Pleasant of New York City, New York in which he complains of the attitude of Salt Lake City toward the Negro—refusing admittance to hotels, theatres, etc.  This man is especially concerned because of the concert to be given by Mr. William Warfield, Negro singer.

I asked Mr. Carpenter to study and prepare a suggestive answer thereto.  Later, he submitted the following letter which was approved and sent out under my signature:  ‘Mr. Richard Pleasant, Bennett & Pleasant, 43 West 51st Street, New York City, 19, New York.

Dear Mr. Pleasant:  I am concerned over the contents of your letter of February 17.

I immediately checked into the matter and found Hotel Utah has confirmed a reservation for Mr. William Warfield, as well as for his accompanist, Mr. Otto Herz, for their arrival Thursday, March 12th.  Upon further check, I also found that Mr. Warfield stayed at Hotel Utah during his last concert in this city.

Frankly, I am amazed to learn from your letter that there seems to be so much undue concern over the subject matter. I know that the Hotel Utah handles its reservations in the same manner as other leading hotel throughout the country.

If there is any further assistance you need, please advise.

Sincerely—s/David O. McKay”

Tues., 19 May, 1953:

“9 a.m.—Met by appointment in the First Presidency’s meeting Miss Pierce, Executive Secretary of the Y.W.C.A., and Mrs. Lavina Brown, a member of the Board of Directors of the Y.W.C.A.  They discussed their campaign to raise $400,000 to provide necessary improvement in their buildings.  Said they had received some very generous gifts and were hoping the Church would be willing to give their generous support.  They expressed hope that the Church would match their largest gift.  In the course of the interview they said one man had contributed $33,700.  We explained that the Church is building 400 chapel a year besides a $3,000,000 Temple in Los Angeles, and taking care of our own need in the Young Women’s M.I.A. and the Relief Society, etc., that the Relief Society is going to build a new building.  We explained that business companies in which the Church is interested will no doubt be solicited also.  They said they wanted to have this conference with the First Presidency before going to the other Church institutions.  We told them the business enterprises stand on their own footing.

Mrs. Pierce explained that this is a community enterprise and that many of our own people participate in the use of their facilities; they have many of our workers active with them, two of our people, Mrs. Garff and Mrs. Dewey are on their board, and that because of the large support our members give to the Church it is difficult to get them to contribute to other enterprises.  In answer to inquiry they said that a majority of the girls at the Y are between 17 and 25 and that they pay $11 to $12.75 per week for room and board.  They have forty beds and that is not adequate to take care of those who need their service.

I explained that the Church has an organization looking after girls who come to the city form the country to work, who do not apply to the Y.W.C.A.  Mrs. Pierce said that their Mrs. Poulson is constantly in touch with our Bee Hive House residents.  They explained that the Y gives opportunity for girls to meet others under the same circumstances and gives them a security they do not have in hotels.  They do not permit drinking of beer or liquor, but do permit smoking.  In answer to a question from Pres. Clark, they said they permit boys and girls to swim together and the Negroes are permitted to go into the pool with the white girls and also to dance with the white girls.  They said that they have many service men come there for entertainment, both white and colored.

We said we would take the matter under advisement.

19 Jan., 1954

“Capetown, South Africa

January 19, 1954

Presidents Stephen L. Richards,

and J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

47 East South Temple Street,

Salt Lake City, Utah,

U.S. America.

My beloved associates:

Since our arrival in Johannesburg on the evening of January 9th to this moment (two hours before we leave Capetown for the Airport) Sister McKay and President Reiser and I have had a variety of memorable experiences.  One must take this long journey to realize what a vast continent Africa is and to sense the distances that the branches in the Union are from Salt Lake City, or to put it in the words of the South African, how far Salt Lake City is from Capetown!

However, though geographically we are far from home and loved ones, we sense our nearness to you and to them in spiritual communion.

It was a wise choice we made when we decided that President Reiser should accompany us to South Africa.  He has been not only a helpful, congenial companion, but a wise, practical instructor for the fifty missionaries assembled here in conference since last Wednesday night.  He now joins in sending to you appreciation and kindest personal regards.

Last Sunday afternoon we held a special meeting with the presidency of the mission and the missionaries and presented to them our impressions regarding the perplexing color questions and the problems involved therein.  After careful observation and sincere prayer, I felt impressed to modify the present policy of compelling every man to prove by tracing his genealogy that he has no trace in his blood of negro ancestry.  If the present policy were continued for another twenty five years, it is doubtful whether the Church would have sufficient men to carry on the work of the branches, and worthy, capable men, as worthy of the priesthood as any other members of the Church, would be deprived of the blessings of the priesthood.

I am sure that the modification of the plan as set forth in the enclosed manuscript will result in renewed impetus and encouragement to the branches here in the South African mission.  I will explain to you in detail when I meet you again in council.

Airway officials of Pan American Air Ways, and British Overseas Air Corporation, customs officials, United States ambassador, Counsul General at Pretoria, Johannesburg, and here in Capetown, and also the Minister of Labor and others have been most cordial.  People whom we have met on the street, fellow passengers everywhere have extended friendship and best wishes and ‘God bless you’s.’  The Church members have traveled hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles to be in attendance at our conferences.  All in all, I am sure that the efforts put forth to make this visit have not been in vain.

Sister McKay joins in sending love to you, and others in the office.




Copy of Statement by

President McKay on

Coloured question follows.”

“(Instructions given by President David O. McKay at special meeting with South African missionaries held at ‘Cumorah’, South Africa.)



17th January, 1954.  (12:30 p.m.)

As I stand before you this morning I feel that I am facing a great responsibility.

For several years the Coloured question in South Africa has been called to the attention of the First Presidency.  We have manuscripts, page after page, written on it.

I believe there is a misunderstanding regarding the attitude of the Presidency.  I felt it before I became President and since the responsibility of presiding has become heavier I have sensed it more keenly.  To observe conditions as they are was one of the reasons that I wished to take this trip.

‘Pharaoh signifies king by Royal blood.  Now this king of

Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham and was a

partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.  From this

descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the

Canaanites was preserved in the land.  The land of Egypt

being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter

of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean

signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden.  When

this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward

settled her sons in it, and thus, from Ham, sprang that

race which preserved the curse in the land.  Now the first

government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the Eldest

son of Egyptus the daughter of Ham, and it was after the 

manner of the government of Ham which was patriarchal.

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom

and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking

earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in

the first generations, in the days of the First Patriarchal

reign, even in the reign of Adam and also of Noah, his

father who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and

with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining

to the Priesthood.  Now Pharaoh, being of that lineage

by which he could not have the right of the Priesthood,

notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from

Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by

their idolatry.’  –Abraham, Chapter 1, Verses 20-27.

Now there’s a noble man, righteous, fair in his judgment, seeking earnestly to guide the people according to the Priesthood which was given to Adam, — man who seems to have been worthy in every respect not only in regard to nobility of character but also in regard to ability in leadership, but he could not receive the Priesthood.

Such is the order regarding his descendants of the Church today.  In Hawaii, in Brazil, in the Southern States, in other Missions and Stakes, there are worthy men, able men in the Church, who are deprived of the Priesthood because of their lineage.

Now I think there is an explanation for this racial discrimination, dating back to the pre-existent state, but modern sociologists will not accept it, and they are writing appealing to us to lift the ban upon the Negro race, and adopt racial equality in the Church.

I first met this problem in Hawaii in 1921.  A worthy man had married a Polynesian woman.  She was faithful in the Church.  They had a large family everyone of whom was active and worthy.  My sympathies were so aroused that I wrote home to President Grant asking if he would please make an exception so we could ordain that man to the Priesthood.  He worte back saying ‘David, I am as sympathetic as you are, but until the Lord gives us a revelation regarding that matter, we shall have to maintain the policy of the Church.’  I sat down and talked to the brother explaining frankly the reasons for such seeming discrimination and gave him the assurance that some day he will receive every blessing to which he is entitled; for the Lord is just, and no Respector of persons.

That man has remained true to the Church and so have his wife and children.

Well until the Lord gives us another revelation changing this practice established anciently and adopted in our day we will follow that policy.  It is true in the days of the Prophet Joseph one of Negro blood received the Priesthood.  Another in the days of President Brigham Young received it and went through the Temple.  These are authenticated facts but exceptions.

At present, I repeat, until a new revelation comes, the Church will observe the policy of withholding the Priesthood from men of Negro ancestry.  Therefore, wherever you find evidence of a Negro strain in an individual, please explain to him that the blessing of membership including the partaking of the sacrament and the renewing of His covenant weekly, is his.

Now I am impressed that there are worthy men in the South African Mission who are being deprived of the Priesthood simply because they are unable to trace their genealogy out of this country.  I am impressed that an injustice is being done to them.  Why should every man be required to prove that his lineage is free from Negro strain especially when there is no evidence of his having Negro blood in his veins?  I should rather, much rather, make a mistake in one case and if it be found out afterwards suspend his activity in the Priesthood than to deprive 10 worthy men of the Priesthood.

There is a misunderstanding regarding the application of your genealogical work, President Duncan.  You have page after page I notice of genealogical records in which men cannot trace their genealogy out of the country yet who show no trace whatever of the Negro blood.  Why should they be deprived of the Priesthood?  Nobody knows whether their ancestry goes back to a White slave or a Black slave.  And so, if a man is worthy, is faithful in the Church and lives up to the principles of the Gospel, who has no outward evidence of a Negro strain, even though he might not be able to trace his genealogy out of the country, the President of the Mission is hereby authorised to confer upon him the Priesthood.

Now this does not mean that you proclaim this ruling or give it  too much publicity because it might multiply your difficulties.  There are those in the Church here who I am sure are not entitled to receive the Priesthood.  But, I am, also sure, after talking with the President and observing other leaders — able leaders — that there are others who are unjustly deprived of the privilege of receiving the Priesthood.

We are assured that the time will come when the Negro will receive every blessing to which he is entitled, including the Priesthood.  I mention this merely to help you to explain to some who are probably discouraged and feel that you are showing favoritism.

From now on here in Africa you may treat people just the same as you treat them in South Carolina or in Washington or in New York or in Salt Lake City, or in the Hawaiian Islands.  Unless there is evidence of Negro blood you need not compel a man to prove that he has none in his veins.

However, as a precautionary measure all cases of ordinations to the Priesthood, Aaronic and Melchizedek, should be referred to the Mission President.”

25 Feb., 1954:

“February 25, 1954

Report of President David O. McKay’s

32,500-mile-journey to missions

of the Church

(This report was given to the Council of the Twelve, February 25, 1954.)

President McKay expressed appreciation to the press and radio, the U.P., Reuters, and the local people, some of whom could not speak English; said that not once did they have an unfavorable article, either local or otherwise, although in some instances they misinterpreted what was said.  In South Africa, for example, word came out that President McKay had said that we do no work among the negroes.  The color problem is a touchy one down there.  He said the question was, ‘Are you going to organize a mission among the colored people?’ and he said, ‘No, they are included in our mission in South Africa.’  President McKay said that he had heard a reaction to that on the Temple Block, that the negroes did not like it.  He cited that as a misinterpretation of what was said.

. . . .

President McKay presented the following recommendation:  He said that he had already reported to the First Presidency that we should modify our attitude towards the colored people in the Union or South Africa, and that that would apply to Brazil also.  He said that he found that in the Union of South Africa no man can hold the priesthood who cannot trace his genealogy out of South Africa, and he felt sure that there are a dozen or more men who are fully worthy of the priesthood who are deprived of it.  In Rhodesia a brother who has the responsibility of the branch and organized the branch cannot hold the priesthood because he cannot trace his genealogy out of the country, and so they have to keep two elders there, 1900 miles away from headquarters, in a place where they cannot do missionary work except repeating, and they are out in the woods and in the mines, and yet that man is as worthy of the priesthood, President McKay thought, as anybody, and there are a score of others in the same condition.  He said there is a young man who is a professor in the university, who is working for his doctor’s degree, and is an instructor in the university of Capetown who cannot trace his genealogy out of the country, and so he does not have the priesthood.  There is another young man in Johannesburg the same way.

President McKay said he called the Elders together, with President Duncan, and after due consultation, suggested this:

‘That until the Lord gives us another revelation changing this practice established anciently and adopted in our day, we will follow the policy that any man who has negro blood in his veins cannot be given the priesthood, that until a new revelation comes the Church will observe the policy of withholding the priesthood from men of negro ancestry.  Therefore, when they find evidence of a negro strain in an individual, to please explain to him that the blessing of membership, including the partaking of the sacrament and the renewing of his covenants weekly, is his, but that he cannot receive the priesthood.

‘Now I am impressed that there are worthy men in the South African Mission who are being deprived of the priesthood simply because they are unable to trace their genealogy out of this country.  I am impressed that an injustice is being done to them.  Why should every man be required to prove that his lineage is free from negro strain, especially when there is no evidence of his having negro blood in his veins.  I should much rather make a mistake in one case, and if it be found afterwards, suspend his activity in the priesthood, than to deprive ten worthy men of this blessing.  There is a misunderstanding regarding the application of your genealogical work, President Duncan.  You have page after page, I notice, of genealogical records in which men cannot trace their genealogy out of this country, yet who show no trace whatever of negro blood.  We recommend that from now on in Africa you may treat people just the same as we treat them in South Carolina or in Washington or in New York or in Salt Lake City or in the Hawaiian Islands.  Unless there is evidence of negro blood, you need not compel a man to prove that he has none in his veins.  However, as a precautionary measure, all cases of ordinations to the priesthood, Aaronic and Melchizedek, should be referred to the Mission President.’

President McKay said that that was his recommendation.

President Richards said that he thought it was a marvelous, inspired statement, as it was reported to the First Presidency in writing before President McKay returned home.  He moved that the Council support the statement of President McKay with reference to this matter of tracing the ancestry of South Africans in order to be eligible for the priesthood.  LeGrand Richards seconded the motion.  The motion was unanimously approved.

First Presidency Meeting

Thur., 17 Feb., 1955

6.  In Fiji we have not heretofore done any missionary work.  Brother  C. G. Smith, a local man, thinks the people have no negroid blood, but the Indians from India are crowding in there and they outnumber the Fijiians now.  Met 25 members of the Church there.  Sunday afternoon had 48 at Suva at the meeting.  Governor Garby advises if we are going to get any property there we should do it now in Suva.  Had a very interesting conversation with him.  He said there is no opposition there, that our elders wanted the privilege of securing property down on the Bay.  He said they could not do that; that that belongs to the Government, and that which they chose on the other side also belongs to the Government.  He advised that we get freehold property and get it right away.  Suva is booming, and President McKay recommended to President Stone that while he is there visiting he look around and make a recommendation.  Thought the race problem would be no worse than in South Africa or Brazil.

Report on Trip to Council Feb. 24


President McKay said that Fiji is now placed under the Samoan Mission.  The President’s party landed at Fiji thinking that we had no members of the Church there.  However, they found 25 members there, and held a meeting with them on Sunday morning.  Since returning home, the President said he had learned from President Stone that they had found some members out in Latoka, 130 miles from Suva.  Most of them are Indians from India, with quite a few Europeans.  That town has a population of over 5000 people, and is a main shipping center on the opposite side of the Islands, and they have a pineapple cannery there.


The problem is whether the Fijiians are negroid.  Brother Smith, who has been there for 25 years thinks not.

Mon., 2 Apr., 1956:

“I telephoned to Dr. O. Preston Robinson, General Manager of the Desert News this morning.  He had submitted a suggestive editorial on the problem of desegregation.  I told him that I had no objection to the editorial’s being printed as it now stands with the exception of the reference to segregation in the school room.  I said that there is a different problem attached to this subject; for instance there may be a district where the negro is in the majority; that there might be three or four white children.  Inasmuch as the negro child is two or three grades below the white child of the same age, it would not be fair to force the few white children to attend — furthermore, the negro really prefers to attend a school for the colored people.  I therefore instructed Dr. Robinson to leave the reference to the school room out of the editorial.  (see following for editorial which appeared in the Deseret News)

April 2, 1956



If ever wise leaders and calm voices were needed in America, they are needed now, before the South’s desegregation problem explodes in a way that will do the nation irreparable harm.

The divisive elements have already spread the tension beyond the South.  In Chino, Calif., nine Negroes were fired from their jobs last week, ostensibly for taking an hour off to take part in national prayers for leaders of the Negro bus boycott in Alabama.  Elsewhere, racial tension is rising – and in some cases becoming a political issue – where it has hardly existed before.

And as the schism broadens, the incidents arising from it provide Communist propaganda with the most useful material it has enjoyed since the cold war began.

It is easy for people far removed from the scene and unfamiliar with the deep, centuries-old customs of the South to suggest solutions.  But even in the South, thinking people are admitting that racial desegration is inevitable.  If a solution is to be found, it must begin with that thesis.

Once the inevitability of desegregation is generally accepted, the extremism on both sides can be lessened, and with it the danger of violence and more bitterness.

On the extreme on one hand is the growing White Citizens Councils movement, which has been denounced by some of the South’s own responsible voices.  The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser has editorially criticized the ‘economic thuggery’ and ‘manicured Kluxism’  of the Councils and the editor of the Delta Democrat-Times of Greenville, Miss., has said they are potential instruments for imposing rule by terror.  These Councils – embracing some 80,000 members in Mississippi alone – feed on the false hope that somehow desegregation can be permanently prevented if the South gets its back up high enough about it.

Meanwhile, the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, the voice of extremism on the other side, can be expected to continue pushing for immediate, forced desegregation as long as opposition along present lines exists.

Moderation and gradualism ought to be possible.  Some of the border states are solving their desegregation problems through those methods.  Some of the ancient inconsistencies in segregation even in the Deep South indicate that the problem is not hopeless.

No one gives segregation a second thought on elevators, for example, where Negroes and whites mingle on an equal, open basis; why should buses be so different?  No one raises a question of segregation in Southern homes where many white children are brought up in a relationship of trust and affection with Negro servants; is it impossible to use those qualities as the basis for working toward the full civil and personal rights that justice and human dignity demand?

It is, as long as tension arising from threatened use of legal or physical force from either side exists.  This is a time for acceptance of inevitabilities, and acceptance of the concept of working toward them calmly, gradually and open-mindedly.

Deseret News – Tuesday, April 3, 1956″

Thurs., 11 Oct., 1956:

“8 a.m.  Met by appointment Brother Wendell B. Mendenhall, Chairman of the Building Committee, and President Edward L. Clissold of the Oahu Stake, Honolulu, Hawaii.

I gave these brethren a special appointment to continue their investigations regarding the relationship of the Fijians to the Polynesians, and also to make a survey of the geography of the Islands now inhabited by Fijians, Polynesians, Solomon Islanders, and others in the Pacific not yet reached by the missionaries.

Brother Clissold took up matters pertaining to improvements now being made in Laie.

Tues., 11 Dec., 1956:

“**At 9:00 a.m. a long distance telephone call came to President McKay from Elders Hugh B. Brown and Wendell B. Mendenhall from New Zealand.  The brethren reported having had a conference with the Governor General of the Fiji Islands in which the Governor manifested a very favorable attitude toward the Church and seemed inclined to raise the quota of missionaries to be admitted to the Fiji Islands.  The Governor emphasized the fact that, if the Church make the purchase of the only freehold property available for purchase in Suva, he could present this to the legislature as evidence of the intention of the Church to remain permanently in the Islands.  Brother Brown and Brother Mendenhall urged the purchase, but the First Presidency agreed that the decision not to purchase at present is sound and that, inasmuch as the brethren in New Zealand have to give their answer to the owner, they were advised that the answer be in the negative, that is, not to purchase the property at the present time.  It is felt that it will be too long before a school will be built there and that to get a quota of missionaries raised on the representation that a school will be built may appear to be false if the school is not built for a long time.

Furthermore, Suva’s proximity to the present school facilities in Tonga, with favorable transportation between Suva and Nukuolofa, will enable the Church with its present facilities to provide educational opportuniites for members in Suva.  The brethren were told to represent the present educational features and facilities of the Church as evidence of our interest in carrying on education for all members of the Church and for such non-members as may wish to affiliate themselves with us.”

Thurs., 13 June, 1957:

“7:45 a.m.  Dr. Lowell Bennion, Director of the University of Utah Institute of Religion called at the office.  He came in the interest of Paul Anderson and Joyce Marshall, a young couple who wish to be married in the Temple, but the young lady has been unable to obtain a recommend as it is rumored that she has negro blood in her veins.  Miss Marshall’s family live in Fillmore, Utah, and a rumor has persisted in this town for years to the effect that the grandmother and the great-grandmother were colored people.  However, there is no evidence to prove this.  The family has contacted former missionaries and others who knew the family and were well acquainted with them, and they deny all this, and say they knew the family to be white and that they have no colored characteristics whatsoever.  There is no evidence of negro blood in the parents, grand-parents, or great-grandmother who had blue eyes and blond hair.

Later telephoned to Elder Marion G. Romney of the Council of the Twelve at Chico, California, Brother Arthur Brown, formerly President of the Millard Stake where the Marshall family lives, who was visiting in Lynwood, California, Dr. Lowell L. Bennion, Brother Paul Anderson at Fillmore, Utah, bridegroom, and Brother Olpin, President of the Millard Stake, regarding the case referred to above by Dr. Bennion.

(See following pages for conversations held with these people concerning this case.  Also see letter of appreciation from Dr. Bennion.)

Thursday, June 13, 1957.

Telephone conversation with Elder Marion G. Romney, Thursday, June 13, 1957, Chico, California.  (1)

Re:  Joyce Marshall Case

President McKay:  Brother Romney, I called you because we are considering to-day the question of whether or not there is negro blood in the Marshall family.  I shall put it this way:  Do you think that Mrs. Marshall had forgotten what she told you, or was she trying to protect her daughter?

Brother Romney:  I cannot tell.  I did not have any independent memory of what she said in the conversations, but in the letter I wrote I said there that Mrs. Marshall told me that her mother told her there was negro blook in their veins.  I am quite careful in what I write.  When I was in conference with Brother Petersen and Brother Smith day before yesterday, Mrs. Marshall said she hadn’t heard that from her mother.  I don’t know, President, I do know it isn’t clear enough to satisfy me if I were going to get into that family, but President Smith and Brother Petersen seem to be convinced that she is in the clear.  My personal feelings are clouded on it.  I didn’t want to stand in her way; I should be perfectly happy to approve your decision, but I did not feel quite satisfied.

President McKay:  Of course, we know that you wrote the facts when you wrote them because you had no personal interest.

Brother Romney:  If you read my letter to her you can see where my sympathies were.

President McKay:  There is a question of her forgetting or trying to shield her daughter, but I think there are two persons involved in that record; one spells her name one way, and the other another way.

Brother Romney:  I don’t know, that’s a new thought to me.  The other brethren have done more on it.  I did nothing except to remember this and give them the benefit of my correspondence, but I did take occasion to ask her specifically if her mother had told her, and she said, ‘no.’

Telephone conversation with Brother Arthur C. Brown, Thursday, June 13, 1957.  (Arthur C. Brown lives in Cedar City but was located in Lynwood, California.)

Re:  Marshall Family

President McKay:  Brother Brown, This is David O. McKay.

Brother Brown:  Yes, how are you?

President McKay:  Pretty well.  Brother Brown, we have the question before us now of the Marshall family.  Do you remember them?

Brother Brown:  Oh yes, of Fillmore.

President McKay:  Will you tell me what you know about the possibility of colored blood in this family.

Brother Brown:  Well, I think there has always been an understanding that it was there.

President McKay:  Is there anything but rumor?

Brother Brown:  Well, I don’t know if there is anything definite about it.

President McKay:  Nothing, would you know Darcus Faulk, the grandmother.

Brother Brown:  Yes.  She certainly looked like there was negro blood there.

President McKay:  Do you know how she came from the South?

Brother Brown:  No, I don’t know.  I’m not sure.  Fillmore was not my home town.  I was from Scipio, and I did not know.  Brother Merrill and Brother Bowen talked this matter over when one of the boys desired ordination to the Priesthood.  They said if there was a drop of Negro blood, the ordination should not be performed.

Brother Brown:  Gussy Marshall was the one who took the problem up.  The grandmother was dead at the time.  That has been sometime ago, and it’s not quite clear in my mind, but as I recall she said there was Negro blood in her and it ran out.  She figured that it had run out.  That’s the way I remember it now.

President McKay:  I see.  Now, you don’t know anything about how that grandmother came from the South.  Did her husband marry her through a marriage bureau?

Brother Brown:  Well, that is my understanding, but I am not certain on that.  That is before my time.

President McKay:  So it was just rumor so far as you know?

Brother Brown:  That was my understanding at the time.

President McKay:  I see.  We are now facing the problem of letting one of the girls go through the temple.

Brother Brown:  I saw that announcement sometime ago, and I wondered if that problem would not arise.  I think Mrs. Marshall, the mother of the girl, talked to Brother Merrill and Brother Romney at the time she wanted to have the boy ordained to the Priesthood, and they thought it was best not to.

President McKay:  All right, Thank you very much Brother Brown.

Telephone conversation with Dr. Lowell Bennion, Salt Lake City, Utah, Thursday, June 13, 1957.

Re:  Marshall Family and Negro Blood

President McKay:  Dr. Bennion.

Dr. Bennion:  Yes sir.

President McKay:  What are the wedding plans of Miss Joyce Marshall and Paul Anderson–how far have they gone?

Dr. Bennion:  Well, I know they are planning to be married tomorrow, and I just don’t know exactly what their plans are if they cannot get to the temple.

President McKay:  Where are they?  I have been following this matter up, and have just been in touch with a former stake president who is now in California.

Dr. Bennion:  I can find out for you.

President McKay:  Are they here in the city?

Dr. Bennion:  I think not.  They were going to be in Fillmore to-night and then come back tomorrow.

President McKay:  How could they go through the temple?

Dr. Bennion:  President McKay, my work on the case has been with the brother, and I haven’t had direct knowledge of their specific plans, however, I shall do my best to reach him now.

President McKay:  Well, he was here, and he is on his way to Fillmore now.  How can they go through the temple tomorrow if they are in Fillmore to-night?

Dr. Bennion:  Well, I am sure they would leave early to do it if they have permission to do so.  I am very sorry that I did not find out a lot of the details for you before I came in.  I will be glad to do some phoning now and see if I can find out what you want to know.

President McKay:  We shall follow it up from here.  I have just been in touch with the former Bishop.  I have talked to Brother Marion Romney who is at present in Chico, California, and who knows about this Marshall family.  I missed the young man, the brother of Miss Marshall.

Dr. Bennion:  His name is Eldon Marshall.

President McKay:  Did you notice any indication of negro blood at all?

Dr. Bennion:  No, he said that he had talked with a geneticist, and he had said that there was no evidence.  But there is no evidence of color in the family.

President McKay:  You do not know the address in Fillmore?

Dr. Bennion:  I am pretty sure he is enrolled at the B.Y.U. and you could get his home address and phone from the B.Y.U.

Telephone conversation with Paul Anderson, Fillmore, Utah, Thursday, June 13, 1957.

President McKay:  This is David O. McKay.  Can you hear me?

Paul Anderson:  Yes sir.

President McKay:  I say, this is David O. McKay.

Paul Anderson:  Yes, I am very glad to hear you.

President McKay:  What are your plans for tomorrow Brother Anderson?

Paul Anderson:  I should like to be married tomorrow.

President McKay:  Well, can you get up here in time?

Paul Anderson:  Yes, we can.

President McKay:  But there is some question about your recommend?

Paul Anderson:  Well, there is some question as to whether we can go to the temple.

President McKay:  Is your bride-to-be in Fillmore?

Paul Anderson:  Yes, she is here in Fillmore.

President McKay:  Have you sent out any announcements?

Paul Anderson:  Yes, we have.

President McKay:  And when is your reception?

Paul Anderson:  Our reception will be tomorrow night.

President McKay:  I see.  Well, that would be quite a trip for you to come up here, go through the temple, and then get back to the reception.

Paul Anderson:  Well, it would be, but it would be worth it.

President McKay:  Would it be agreeable if you had a civil ceremony and then went through the temple later?

Paul Anderson:  Oh, I would rather go through first.

President McKay:  Have you been on a mission?

Paul Anderson:  No, I have not.  I served as a part stake missionary.

President McKay:  You are at the B.Y.U. Stake are you?  And who is your Bishop?

Paul Anderson:  My bishop there at B.Y.U. Stake was Bishop Hales.

President McKay:  He is the one to issue your recommend.

Paul Anderson:  Barrie McKay, his first counselor, was to issue a recommend.

President McKay:  Barrie McKay, Yes.  Well, I don’t know whether you can get your recommend now signed by the Bishop and the President of the Stake.  That will have to be done.  And who is your bride’s bishop?

Paul Anderson:  He is Bishop Mitchell here at Fillmore.

President McKay:  And the President of your Stake?

Paul Anderson:  Yes, he is here at Fillmore also, President Olpin.

President McKay:  Well, it is going to crowd you now.  I do not see how you can make it, but I think we shall let you go through the Temple.

Paul Anderson:  Well, in expectation, President, I went ahead while I was there at school and got my recommend before I came home.

President McKay:  Signed by your Bishop and Stake President?  So the question now is just for your bride.  We shall get in touch with the President, and he will let you know to-night.

Paul Anderson:  With President Olpin down here?

President McKay:  He would have to sign your bride’s recommend.  So we will get in touch with him, and he will call and let you know.

Paul Anderson:  Thanks very much President.  Good-bye.

Notes on telephone conversation with President Roy D. Olpin of the Millard Stake at Fillmore, Utah, Thursday, June 13, 1957.

I called President Roy D. Olpin of the Millard Stake at Fillmore, Utah, and he later reached me in the evening at my home, and I discussed with him the matter of a recommend for the young couple–Paul Anderson and Joyce Marshall.  Since there is no absolute proof of Negro blood, I am going to give Miss Marshall the benefit of doubt.  ‘All that you have, (President Olpin) and that the others have is hearsay.  So if they are otherwise worthy, you may inform the Bishop to issue a recommend to this young couple.’  President Olpin answered, ‘Oh, thank you, because they are worthy!  We haven’t any better people than the Marshall family in the ward.’

June 13, 1957


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

        274 University Street

        Salt Lake City 2, Utah

June 27, 1957

President David O. McKay

47 East South Temple

Salt Lake City 1, Utah

Dear President McKay:

Last Sunday, Eldon Marshall from Fillmore called to see us and we received a full account of the marriage of his sister, Joyce, and Paul Anderson, in the temple.  His mother, who has weathered the strain of ostracism alone these many years, was privileged to accompany them.  Eldon himself, with encouragement from Elder Mark E. Petersen, is planning on a mission in October.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for bringing the joy of the Gospel into the lives of these two families.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.



Lowell L. Bennion


Thurs., 12 Dec., 1957:

“Council meeting – S.L. Temple.

Re:  Baptism of Negro

President Joseph Fielding Smith said that he had received a letter marked personal in which the statement is made that someone had reported to the writer that President McKay had given consent that the temple endowment work be performed for a negro who is dead, and that therefore we were doing work for negroes in the temple.

I related the following facts for the information of the Brethren, and said that I felt sure that I had previously brought this matter to the Council.

A negro woman had called at the office some few years ago, she having her residence in Ogden.  I stated that I think she said she was a Methodist; that her church could not do anything for her husband who was dead, and that before he died he wanted to join our Church; that inasmuch as our Church is the only Church that can do baptismal work for him, and he had requested that she see that his baptism was attended to if he did not recover from his illness, she wanted to have it done.

I told her that that could be done.  She explained that she knew that he could not receive the Priesthood.  She said that the Ward teachers would do the work for him.  I said that the thought came to me as to whether they could be baptized for him, and the matter was discussed in Council later.  I gave consent for the Ward teacher to be baptized for this negro lady’s husband.

Now the report comes that the temple work was done for that negro, and therefore he was ordained an Elder.  The facts are that the ward teachers were authorized to do baptism work for a colored man who had become converted but died before baptism could be performed, and there is no truth to the statement that he was ordained an Elder or permitted to have his endowments.

April 11 to May 10, 1958.

New Zealand Trip.

Report given by President David O. McKay to the First Presidency on his trip to New Zealand, Tuesday, May 13, 1958, 9:00 A.M. (1)

Fijian Racial Relationships

President McKay explained that the Fiji Islanders seem to be closely related to the Tongans.  Brother Mendenhall and Brother Clissold think they are related to Malayans.  There is evidence that they are not of the negroid races.

September 2, 1958 to September 15, 1958

“Copy of handwritten diary by Elder A. Hamer Reiser, Assistant Secretary to the First Presidency, who accompanied President McKay to England for dedication services of the London Temple.

. . . .

The following are some of the questions they asked the President.  (President Kerr arranged for a tape recording to be made.  I hope it is complete and makes a good transcript–this also I must follow up).  After Brother Evans made introductions of the party including President McKay, President Joseph Fielding Smith, Brother Edward O. Anderson, President Clifton G.M. Kerr and me and Mr. Caunts, representing T.P. Bennett & Sons, supervising architect, President McKay made an introductory statement (text coming if President Kerr’s recording got it) and the reporters asked:  (President McKay–McKi (as in high).  ‘How long will you be in Britain?’  Answer:  ‘About two weeks’.  ‘And will you be going to Scotland?’  (No, I shall not be able to go to Scotland this time.  I must return home for the General Conference of the Church’.)  Question:  ‘Mr. President, if I may first extend good wishes for our (newspaper fraternity) then may I ask you to say something briefly about the attitude of the Church toward the racial problem and tell me whether an African could be a member of the Church.’

President McKay replied saying ‘Yes, an African can be a member of the Church.’  Then later he explained that he could not however receive the Priesthood, but could be active in the auxiliaries, and participate in worship as other members do, attending meetings; partake of the sacrament.  He could be baptized as others are.

He also said the Church is tolerant of all races.  (Later he mentioned the Church’s work among the Polynesian races and in the Far East.)

Then President McKay volunteered a statement about the Church’s policy in the matter of birth control.  That the only restriction that should be imposed should be the health of the wife.

Question:  ‘Why do you say an African would not be eligible for the Mormon Priesthood?’

Answer:  ‘Of course you are entering into a more extended question there, but briefly in our ‘Pearl of Great Price’ there is a statement regarding the dealing of God with the African Race.  A righteous man claimed the right to the Priesthood.  He was a good leader and in other ways claimed by inheritance the right of leadership, but he was denied the Priesthood because he was a descendant of the African Race.  Now we claim that was a revelation from the Lord and until the Lord reveals to us that that race may be entitled to the Priesthood, we stand by that revelation.  The time will come when the Negro will have the right to the priesthood.  The Lord is the one who will say when that is.  Now that is the fundamental reason why the Mormons take that stand.’

Question:  (a woman reporter)  ‘Why are you so sure that the time will come, if the time has not come?  You feel the time will definitely come and that it has not definitely been revealed yet?  You believe that the time will come when the Negro will come–by revelation–why are you so confident that this is true?

Answer:  We believe absolutely in the justice of the Lord that every man will receive his merits–will receive blessings according to his merits.  We believe the Negro and no other race will be deprived of any blessing that he or others are entitled to.  We believe that is a fundamental principle in the justice of our Father in Heaven.  We also believe in pre-existence that what we were in the world before we came here determines our position in this life and what we do in this life will determine our position in the next and so on.  The Negro is very happy to receive the privilege of coming into this dispensation (this mortal existence) and receive the blessings which are his.  We believe, he by righteous living will attain the status, the stature, the character, faithfulness, that will entitle him to the blessings of the Holy Prieshood.  When that (time) comes we do not know.  Does that answer the question?’ –‘Yes.”

‘At the present he is not deprived of membership or any right or privilege to which he is entitled as a member of the Church.

‘Our women do not hold the Priesthood but that is another question.  They are entitled to all the blessings of the Priesthood.’

Fri., 19 Sept., 1958:

“Following Brother Dyer’s departure, we held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  At this meeting we discussed a memorandum received from President Henry A. Smith of the Central Atlantic States Mission as follows:

The problem is in connection with the segregation question in Virginia.

The Charlottesville Educational Foundation, Inc. is a standby organization to provide educational opportunities for all children in the event of school closings.  They have perfected their plans to a point where they can provide school if the citizens can provide classroom space.  In Charlottesville, Virginia, they have asked the branch president if he can make available to them the chapel and classrooms.  They will pay for utilities, and other costs involved.  In the branch there are mixed feelings.  Some of the members think they should provide the space, and some think they shouldn’t.

President Smith feels personally that this would just fan the flame of controversy, and it might be better not to concede to the request.  He feels this question will come up early in the week.

(Later at home I telephoned President Henry A. Smith and told him that our meeting house should not be used for the public schools on the question of integration or disintegration, that the Church had better not take sides, especially on the question of segregation.)

Tues., 25 Nov., 1958:

“Telephone conversation with President Nathan Tanner, (Calgary Stake) Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  (Telephone Number — Chestnut 3-1260).

Regarding:  G.J. Barton, Jr. Case

President McKay:  President Tanner, David O. McKay

President Tanner:  Oh good morning.  How are you this morning?

President McKay:  Pretty well, thank you.  I spent some time last evening on the Barton case.  You have it in mind?  What is your impression about the worthiness of Brother and Sister Barton to go to the Temple?

President Tanner:  Well, I think so far as he is concerned, there is no question in my mind.  So far as she is concerned we haven’t been able to trace her family connections and there may be some question in her case, but as far as their living they are above reproach.

President McKay:  I have gone through the records, and I feel impressed this morning to say to my counsellors that I am going to take the responsibility of granting to them the privilege of the Priesthood.

President Tanner:  No two people will be happier as a result of it.  There has never been any question as far as he is concerned other than the area he came from.  On her I am not so positive.

President McKay:  Does her appearance give any indications?

President Tanner:  She has a dark complexion, but you have that in any people.  They are just as faithful as they can be.

President McKay:  I wanted to hear that from you.  Are they still there in your stake?

President Tanner:  No, he is in the armed forces, and they are in Vancouver which actually puts them in the Western Canadian Mission under President Arave.

President McKay:  Is he (Brother Barton) reliable in his statements?

President Tanner:  Oh very.

President McKay:  Your experience convinces you that he is honest in his feelings?

President Tanner:  Very definitely without any question.

President McKay:  How many children have they?

President Tanner:  Three.

President McKay:  A boy and two daughters?

President Tanner:  I think that is right.  I am not positive of the youngest.

President McKay:  I was not sure last night as I went through the papers.  I am going to take the responsibility of granting them the privilege of going through the Temple if they are otherwise worthy.

President Tanner:  It is surely good to hear from you.  How are you President?

President McKay:  Pretty well, thank you.”

Fri., 5 Dec., 1958:

Telephone Call Negro Question

Had a telephone conversation with Brother Evan P. Wright regarding Brother and Sister G.J. Barton, Jr., formerly of the South African Mission regarding a question of whether or not they have negro blood.  –see notes following and also see letter which Brother Wright (formerly President of the South African Mission) sent later regarding this matter in the files of the First Presidency.

Friday, December 5, 1958.

Telephone conversation with Brother Evan P. Wright, (formerly President of the South African Mission), Salt Lake City, Utah.

President McKay:  Hello, Brother Wright.

Brother Wright:  Yes, President McKay.

President McKay:  Do you remember Brother and Sister G.J. Barton, Jr.?

Brother Wright:  Yes, I do very well.

President McKay:  What can you tell me about them?

Brother Wright:  Well, President McKay, I have been to the Church Offices twice to give information about them, once to Brother Myers at the Genealogical Office, and once to someone else, I do not remember who.  Brother and Sister Barton lived in South Africa and joined the Church, and then moved to Canada.  I think that Brother Barton is a man who has abused his wife.  He claims to be part American Indian.  He claims that his mother or father, one or the other, was part American Indian and the other one was South African.  People who have seen them both tell me they think there is color.  I feel quite confident that there is color on Sister Barton’s side.

President McKay:  Why do you feel confident of that?

Brother Wright:  Well, I have seen them in South Africa.

President McKay:  But that is just because of their looks?

Brother Wright:  Yes sir, because of their appearance.  You know when one lives among those people, they take on certain characteristics.  Brother Barton is a fellow who gets very enthusiastic, and then it dies down.  When he came to Canada, he joined the army and left his wife living in just a hovel, it was just a converted chicken coupe, and the people up there were quite distressed about it.  Their little child definitely has the earmarks of a colored person, and they did not trace their genealogy in the days when we did a lot of work of that kind.  Now, there are people who have done more extensive genealogical work with them than I have.  Lots of my information comes second hand, but those who are in charge of our genealogical offices all felt that there was much reason to feel that there might be colored blood there.  Now there is a woman in town here who did our genealogical research.  We considered her our best expert in Africa.  It is certainly her opinion that the Bartons have colored blood.  Now, since they have been in this country, I have not had any contact with them except once he came down here, and I spent a few hours with him.  Where he is now or what he is doing, I do not know.

President McKay:  He is up in Canada.

Brother Wright:  I do know, though, that ever since he has been here, he has been trying to get the Priesthood.  I know that.  And I know that different ones in the Church have called me up.  I would have to go back into my records.  I have some records regarding them and their lines as I have on many South African people.  My opinion, my quick opinion, would be that there is colored blood there.  I would have to refer to my records to tell you anything further, but I would be suspicious.  Also while he as in the mission field, I was never impressed that he was being valiant as he should about many of these things.  For instance, I don’t think he was a man who was particularly good to his wife, but he was an enthusiast.  I remember, President McKay, one thing, for instance, immediately after being baptized, they had him speak in Church, and he just got up and criticized the people up one side and down the other in rather poor taste.  Most all of our South African people have been such very lovely people I think.  In my opinion they are way above average.  I just think there are so many wonderful people among them, but he seemed to be to me an outsider.  He never did seem to fit into the picture that most of them do.

President McKay:  Yes.

Can you recall any evidence that she has negro blood?

Brother Wright:  I can look up my records, I am sure, and get you some concrete information.

President McKay:  Will you do that and send it to me?

Brother Wright:  Yes, I will do that and call you tomorrow.

President McKay:  If you will, please.

Brother Wright:  Yes, sir.

President McKay:  Thank you.

Brother Wright:  Thank you very much.”

Wed., 15 Apr., 1959:

“Negro Question

Editorial regarding ‘Time’ magazine article – Deseret News April 15, 1959 — see following

Wednesday, April 15, 1959



By Magnifying, out of context, the errors of a recent report, Time Magazine has badly misinformed its readers about minority problems in the State of Utah and in respect to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In an article in its religion section, titled ‘Mormons and Civil Rights,’ Time makes the astonishing charge that Indians and Mexicans are ‘lost, friendless and generally out of a job’ in Utah’s cities, and that this condition stems from a Mormon belief that they are inferior people.

The quotations are taken from a small section, labeled ‘Miscellaneous Observations’ in a report of a Utah State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commision on Civil Rights.  The magazine called it a ‘scathing report’ on the treatment of minorities in Utah.

Time should be apprised of a few facts, namely:

1.  Members of the committee who submitted it did not consider it a ‘scathing report.’  Its conclusion was that ‘Generally, Utahns can and do pride themselves on being free from racial prejudice.’  The report speaks of a ‘certain amount’ of inequality, but describes relations in most respects as ‘excellent’ or as that ‘A great deal of improvement has been made in very recent years and the problems are of decreasing importance.’

2.  A different committee, appointed by Governor Clyde two years ago, has recently submitted a report that differs sharply with even such criticism as the Advisory Committee made.  It concludes that while there are problems – as where aren’t there? – great progress has been made and that generally the relationships are good.  This is a continuing committee established to hear and mediate conficts in this area; it has not had to pass any unresolved conflicts on to the governor.

3.  The Negro race is certainly treated no worse in Utah than elsewhere, and most whites and Negroes would mutually agree that treatment here is generally much better.  There is no racial segregation in schools, employment or elsewhere in our communities.

4.  Probably no other people anywhere hold the Indian, Mexican and other such peoples in such high regard as do the LDS people, nor work so closely and affectionately with them.  This statement requires some amplification, which follows:

o The efforts of the LDS Church and Utah’s representatives in Congress were successful in establishing at Brigham City, Utah, the world’s largest school for Indians.

o Desiring to bring the Indians even more closely into our society, the Church has undertaken a program unique in all the world.  Under this program, hundreds of LDS families take an Indian child or two into their homes, giving them all the advantages and attention they give their own children.  They feed them, clothe them, send them to school, pay for their music lessons, pay their college tuition and expenses.  This is not an adoption; the family has no legal claim on the child when he or she is ready to go into society alone.  There is no compensation to the family.  The program is based solely on love and affection and the desire to improve the lot of the Indian as well as the understanding between races.

o The Church is strongly organized among the non-white countries of the Americas and the Pacific.  Some 8,740 Samoans, 4,917 Tongans, 2,456 Tahitians, 4,466 Orientals in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Hong Kong and Formosa are members of the LDS Church.  So are more than 12,900 Mexicans, 4,831 Mexican-Americans, and 6,703 American Indians.  Missionary work among these peoples is not done with the paternalistic ‘charity’ attitude of some churches, but with full acceptance of them as equal, valued, beloved brothers and sisters in the Gospel.

o Only last year, the Church dedicated a million-dollar temple and a $7 million college in New Zealand (where we have 16,813 members) and a $3 1/4 million college in Hawaii.  An extensive Church school system already exists in Mexico and this is being expanded.

o Some 105 LDS chapels have been built, largely at the expense of American members of the Church, among the Maori, Polynesian and other races of the Pacific Islands, and 40 more are now in the blue-print stage.

These examples could be multiplied, but perhaps these will suffice for the fair-minded person to judge whether these minority groups are ‘lost and friendless’ among our people.

We invite Time Magazine or any other organization to point out a people that has shown more respect and affection for these minorities, or – most important – that has spent more time, money and effort to put that affection into action.

Deseret News – Wednesday, April 15, 1959″

Friday, August 21, 1959.

Telephone conversation between President McKay and President Elwood J. Corry, of Cedar Stake, regarding a rumor that a member of his stake — San Louis Mitchell — has negro blood, and that therefore this man’s nieve, Ella Stratton, should not be married in the Temple.  (Brother Mitchell is Ella’s mother’s brother.)

President McKay:  Ella Stratton and her fiance are here in the office and Brother A. Hamer Reiser is interviewing them regarding their going through the Temple.  You will remember, Miss Stratton is under question because of a rumor about there being negro blood in her veins.

President Corry:  Well, we are not sure of that, but it has been rumored around.

President McKay:  Announcements are out for their marriage and then you discovered that she belongs to another line.

President Corry:  Yes.

President McKay:  Rumors indicate that there is a possibility of negro blood in the line.  This wedding is held up accordingly.

President Corry:  That is right.

President McKay:  Now that is as it was presented to me.

President Corry:  That is the case.

President McKay:  Now, the First Presidency has had correspondence and know the case.  It is founded wholly on rumor.

President Corry:  That is what we have concluded here.  That is, we haven’t anything to prove it — whenever you try to pin anybody down, they do not seem to know.

President McKay:  They do not seem to know?

President Corry:  That is right.

President McKay:  If you feel that this couple is otherwise worthy, I would let them go since the announcements are out.

President Corry:  Well, I have interviewed the girl, and I feel that she is worthy and very sincere about, and she desires very much to be married in the temple.

President McKay:  I think nothing more should be said about them until we have the facts.  We have waited and looked and searched every way to find something definite.

President Corry:  I am sure we concur in your feelings.  I know that is has been something that has been a great concern to her.  In fact, she had not thought much about this other problem until it was called to her attention.  In fact, I guess I was the one who mentioned it after I had interviewed her.  I told her that she could have a recommend, and then I got to thinking about it during the night, and knowing of the relationship there, I talked to her again a couple of days after that.  And then, of course we have had it under consideration ever since that time.

President McKay:  Well, have you discovered anything ……………?

President Corry:  No.  We have not had any more information than what you have.

President McKay:  The memory of the remark that that man made — her grandfather, or great-grandfather, great-granduncle — I do not know who — is all we have?

President Corry:  Yes.

President McKay:  Well, I think we can face our Heavenly Father and say, ‘We did not think that you wanted us to put that stigma on this girl because that remark might have been made because that man had Spanish blood or some other blood in his veins.’

President Corry:  That is right.

President McKay:  And whenever we can face our Heavenly Father and say we did this and can justify ourselves, why I feel I can sleep, and I hope you can.

President Corry:  I surely feel good about it.  I might say that this other boy, Brother San Louis Mitchell – he is the original one about whom this question came up — he has been very honest in this thing.

President McKay:  He surely has.  I remember his correspondence.

Well, let’s just drop it.

President Corry:  All right.

President McKay:  And you and I will stand together and face our Heavenly Father.

President Corry:  That will certainly be all right.  I feel good about it.

President McKay:  All right.  Well, then, we shall tell her to go back and continue, shall we?  We shall tell her to go back and see you.

President Corry:  All right.  Thank you very much.

(Copy of this telephone conversation and the record from which it was taken are on file with other correspondence in the office of the First Presidency.)”

Wed., 30 Dec. 1959:

“7:30 a.m.

Met by appointment arranged by the maid at our home a Japanese American widower (Brother Okabi) whose Japanese wife died at the birth of their third child, and who is now interested in marrying an American girl, non-Japanese, who has been married and divorced and who has one child.  The young man has served in the mission field, and was married to his first wife in the temple.  The responsibilities of these people to make their own decision in the light of the effect of inter-racial marriages upon their children was stressed in this interview.”

Fri., 18 Mar. 1960:

“11:30 to 1 p.m.

Dictation to Clare.  Also had her read to me a report of Sterling McMurrin’s talk to the Salt Lake Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, at a meeting held at the Trinity A.M.E. Church, 241 E. 6th South, March 7, 1960.  This talk was under consideration at the First Presidency’s meeting this morning.”

Tues., 4 Oct. 1960:

“8:30 to 10 a.m.

Attended First Presidency’s meeting.  President Clark indisposed at home.

Preaching the Gospel to Those with Negro Blood

Among other matters, President Moyle and I considered two letters written by President William Grant Bangerter of the Brazilian Mission, which gave details of opportunities for proselyting in new areas in the Brazilian Mission, and with special relationship to the racial mixture of providing leadership for the branches where, because of racial mixture, there will not be men holding the priesthood, was also presented and considered.

I said to tell President Bangerter to preach the gospel, but for the present, until the Lord gives another revelation, those who have Negro blood are not to receive the priesthood.  I said that I spoke to them about that when I was in Buenos Aires.  A man asked about it.  he said he was going to marry a girl, and I told him he was at perfect liberty to marry her, and that she was entitled to be baptized and become a member of the Church and to be confirmed a member of the Church, and that their children may be so blessed, but that they will not be entitled to the priesthood.  That is definite, and he will have to conform to it until the Lord tells us otherwise.  If they who have negro blood in their veins do not want to accept the gospel, that is their privilege.  Even at that, the Church offers them more than any other church in existence, and they are entitled to it.  We should tell President Bangerter to go on preaching to these people and baptizing them, but they must be told before baptizing them what the limitations are.

Wed., 15 Feb. 1961:

“3 p.m.

President Ernest L. Wilkinson reported incident that happened the other day when the Brigham Young University basketball team played with the Utah State University in Logan.  Trouble was started by a negro who is on the State University team.  Much criticism has come because the State University has brought in negroes from the outside to play on their basketball team.  President Wilkinson reported President Daryl Chases’ favorable attitude toward the negroes.  Fathers and mothers up there are concerned because the negroes have been dating the white girls at the College.”

“Trip to London, Scotland, and Wales Wednesday, February 22, 1961, to Saturday, March 4, 1961.

At 11:00 in the Relief Society Room of the new Hyde Park Chapel on Exhibition Road Friday, February 24, 1961, President McKay held a satisfactory news conference, attended by approximately 20 newspapermen and 8 to 10 photographers.  President Woodbury addressed the press conference and explained the reason for the delay in the late arrival of the President’s party and introduced to the newspapermen the following:  President David O. McKay, Elder Hugh B. Brown, Elder Alvin R. Dyer of the European Mission, Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner ‘from Canada and one of the assistants of the Quorum of Twelve,’ Dr. Edward McKay, ‘a surgeon and son of President McKay,’ Sir Thomas Bennett, ‘of T.P. Bennett and Sons, Architects, who have designed this beautiful building in which we sit.’ 

. . . .

Newspaperwoman:  It has been said that you do not admit colored people to membership in the Church.  Is that right?

President McKay:  It is not.  Colored people join the Church.

Newspaperwoman:  Oh, they do.

President McKay:  But colored people do not receive the Priesthood.  They join the Church and worship in the chapel and have the privilege of participating in the auxiliary organizations and the Sacrament Service, but they are not given the Priesthood.

Newspaperman:  Is there any particular reason for that?

President McKay:  It is found in the Pearl of Great Price.  In the Church we accept the Bible as being the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.  We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.  We have the Pearl of Great Price, a translation by Joseph Smith of an early account of the creation of the world.  In that is a passage which refers to a son of Egyptus, who claimed the right of Priesthood by descent.  But descendants could not have it because they were descendants of colored people.  That Pharaoh was a righteous man but was not given the priesthood because of his descent from Egyptus, who had colored blood in her veins.  That is the only reason.  It is founded upon that.

Tues., 13 June 1961:

Donald F. Jensen, South Carolina 

I reported to the Brethren at our meeting that I had received a letter from Donald F. Jensen of South Carolina reporting that he is expecting to lead a movement of conservative Republicans to the extent of making a speech supporting state rights; also that he had been asked to extend his remarks to include strong statements in opposition to the integration of negroes and whites, in which he would quote statements by Abraham Lincoln.  Brother Jensen asks for counsel in the matter.  In discussing the question, the Brethren felt that there would be no objection to Brother Jensen’s making a speech in support of state rights.  However, they questioned the wisdom of his discussing the integration question.  I said that I would convey this word to Brother Jensen, perhaps through his brother, Keith Jensen, who is a member of the Presidency of the South Carolina Stake.

Note:  President McKay called Keith Jensen the next day, June 14 — see following notes of conversation, and also letter from Donald Jensen.

Tuesday, June 13, 1961

Telephone conversation between President McKay and Keith A. Jensen, lst Counselor in the South Carolina Stake, speaking from Columbia, South Carolina, regarding a letter written to President McKay by Donald F. Jensen (brother to Keith A. Jensen)  June 14, 1961

President McKay: Brother Jensen, this is President McKay.

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: President Jensen, I am very glad to hear you.  I have called for a special purpose.

President Jensen:  Yes sir.

President McKay: Your brother (I suppose he is your brother) has sent me a confidential letter.

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: Donald F. Jensen

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: He is chairman of the delegation of the Young Republican National Federation – a national organization in which he leads a movement of what he calls ‘conservatives’ to the extent of making a speech supporting states-rights.  Now that is good, and he should be commended for his interest in that National Federation.

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: But he says this:  ‘Beyond this, I have been asked to extend my remarks to include strong statements opposing integration of Negroes and Whites and to quote President Abraham Lincoln’s statements regarding the same.  President Lincoln very sharply attacked such an idea as even allowing Negroes the right to sit on juries, etc.’  Now your brother asks me confidentially what he should do on that matter of integration.

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: His first part, on states-rights, he should be absolutely free to go right ahead.

President Jensen: Go right ahead on states-rights?

President McKay: As a Republican, yes!  Do his duty there – be absolutely free.  But we shall never be condemned for what we do not say about the other matter.  I think we should not get into it at all.

President Jensen: Yes Sir.

President McKay: We cannot get into this matter because they are allowed to join the Church.  We should like to leave the solution for the Southern States people to handle.  If the Government judiciary had kept out of this the Southern States would have handled it properly.  Now I do not like to write anything, so will you have a talk with your brother?

President Jensen: Yes sir, I certainly will.

President McKay: Give him the spirit of it – tell him he is free to do what he wishes, but on the matter of integration of the Negroes, the less he says about it the better it will be.

President Jensen: Now let me see if I understand you correctly.  Your advice to him would be to go ahead on the states-rights as he had planned – as he had written you.

President McKay: Yes sir.

President Jensen: But beyond that point he is to leave the solution of the integration to the Southern people and to the National Government.

President McKay: Yes, we had better not take a stand on it.

President Jensen: Then to say just as little as possible about that particular thing?

President McKay: That is right.

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: Will you do that?

President Jensen: I will be very happy to do so, sir, and I’m sorry I didn’t call you earlier – I just received the message.

President McKay: That is all right; we thank you for calling.

President Jensen: It has been nice to talk to you.

President McKay: It would be better for you, as one of the Presidency of the Stake, to talk to your brother about it, than it would be for me to put anything in writing.

President Jensen: Well thank you so much.  I will be most happy to do that, President McKay.

President McKay: If you would please.

President Jensen: Yes sir.

President McKay: Thank you.

Tuesday, June 13, 1961

June 9, 1961

President David O. McKay

47 East South Temple Street 

Salt Lake City, Utah


My dear President McKay:

I have just been approached to undertake a task which I am reluctant to do until contacting you for advice.  During the days of June 20-24 the Young Republican National Federation will meet in its national convention.  A great deal of publicity goes out throughout the country regarding its proceedings.  As Chairman of the Young Republicans of South Carolina, I will head our delegation.

My problem is simply this, sir:  As chairman of the delegation, and as a rather long-time official of the national organization, I am expected to lead a movement of ‘conservatives’ to the extent of making a speech supporting states-rights.  Beyond this, I have been asked to extend my remarks to include strong statements opposing integration of Negroes and Whites and to quote President Abraham Lincoln’s statements regarding the same.  He very sharply attacked such an idea as even allowing Negroes the right to sit on juries, etc.

I am a Latter-day Saint first and am reluctant to follow through the request if there is a chance of hurting the Church in any way.  I am well known in Young Republican circles as Mormon and believing that my remarks will find their way into the newspapers of this States, and if the issue becomes great enough, perhaps into other states, I want to be careful not to damage the Church in any way.

If you feel it would be best for me to be silent on the matter, I will do so; but if the Church could not be placed in an embarrassing position, I will probably go ahead with the proposed plan.  I would be very sincerely grateful for your confidential advice.  Please be assured, also, that these matters are in strictest confidence and anything you feel you wish to say will not be repeated.

Inasmuch as the Convention begins in just one week, I would be very grateful for an early reply.

It may be helpful for you to know more about me before you consider this matter.  Prior to coming to South Carolina early last year, I lived in Provo, Utah, and studied for over four years at the Brigham Young University.  I filled a mission in the Northern States Mission (1953-55) and served in the B.Y. Campus 17th Ward Bishopric as First Counselor (1956-60).  When I left Utah, I was Chairman of the Young Republican League of Utah.

For references, I would be remembered, I believe, by Elder Ezra Taft Benson.  I had the pleasure of meeting with him a number of times in Washington and particularly enjoyed the pleasure of going with him to the White House to receive a Young Republican Award from President Eisenhower in 1959, in behalf of the Brigham Young University.  President Clyde D. Sandgren, Vice President and General Counsel of the Brigham Young University, knows me well as does President Wayne B. Hales and Bishop H. Darrel Taylor, all three of whom were close associates while I was at school.  

I am well acquainted with President Benjamin W. Wilkerson there in the South Carolina Stake.

My only interest, President McKay, is doing the thing that is right and if making the speech would hurt the Church, it could not be right.  I look forward most anxiously to hearing from you.

Sincerely your brother,

Donald F. Jensen


cc:  President B.W. Wilkerson

       4701 Kilbourne Road

       Columbia, South Carolina”

Wed., 14 June 1961:

“9 a.m.

The regular meeting of the First Presidency was held.  The following are some of the items we took up:

4.  Negroes and the Priesthood

I read to the Brethren a letter from President J. Price Ronnow of the Reno Stake reporting that a teacher of a Sunday School class in the Sacramento Fourth Ward had told his class that I had said it was all right for young people to mingle with negroes, even to the point of marrying them, and that they could now hold the priesthood.  I directed that an answer be sent to the effect that these statements were pure fabrication; that I had never said such things, and asking President Ronnow to give us the name of the teacher so that he might be corrected on this matter.

Thurs., 22 June 1961:

Negroes in Government Installations in Tooele

President Moyle reported that Brother Eugene Merrill reports having a plan, which President Moyle encouraged him to follow up, by which it is hoped that the War Department will be encouraged to make use of two of their plants in California and retain their colored contingents there instead of sending them to Tooele.  There will be two to three hundred Negro families in this contingent.

Missionary Work in Nigeria

I referred to the situation in Nigeria where many of the native people it is reported desire to join the Church.  We have been corresponding for years with them through LaMar Williams and others, and have sent them Church books and materials.  They have organized themselves into a church, which Church they have given the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I said that we cannot escape the obligation of permitting these people to be baptized and confirmed members of the Church if they are converted and worthy, but they should be given to understand that they cannot perform these ordinances nor can they hold the priesthood.  In discussing the matter, it was the sentiment of the Brethren that it would be well to have President Alldredge of the South African Mission call on these people and that LaMar Williams might join him there, the two of them going together.  It was felt that President Alldredge might properly assign one or two missionaries to serve among these people.  The thought was also expressed that perhaps Brother Williams might be left there for a time as one of the missionaries to work with these people.  (see later decision – Saturday, July 1, 1961)

Fri., 30 June 1961:

Nigerian Converts 

Missionary Work Among Negroes

President Brown referred to letters being received from people in Nigeria, who bear their testimony and ask if someone cannot come and help them.  I said that we are going to send to Nigeria to look into the situation President O. Layton Alldredge of the South African Mission and probably Brother La Mar Williams who has been correponding with these people.

I said that in this matter we are facing a problem greater than the Twelve of old faced when the church was shaken by the question of whether or not the Gentiles should have the gospel.  I said that the Lord would have to let us know, and when he is ready to open the door he will tell us.  But until he does, we shall have to tell these people in Nigeria that they can go so far and no farther.

In this connection President Brown referred to a conversation he had with Elder N. Eldon Tanner, Assistant to the Twelve.  He reported that Sir Arthur Savage, former Governor General of Nigeria, is in London, and that he is a friend of Elder Tanner; – also,  that a man by the name of Drew is the High Commissioner is a friend of Elder Tanner.  Brother Tanner reported that diplomatically speaking, it would be very well for us to make further inquiry through Messrs. Drew and Savage before we go to Nigeria, and Brother Tanner also thinks they would be willing to give us letters of introduction and letters of recommendation.  President Brown suggested the advisability of having Brother Tanner fly down to Nigeria and join Brothers Alldredge and Williams in Nigeria.  I said that I think this is an excellent suggestion, and that I shall talk with Elder Tanner before he returns to England.  (See report to Council of Twelve Saturday, July 1, 1961)  (Also conference with Elder Tanner on the same day)”

Sat., 1 July 1961:

Missionaries to the Negroes in Nigeria

Then I spoke to the Brethren about the importance of a problem that is almost as serious as the one faced by Peter, James, and John, and the Twelve in their day.  Paul left the synagogue, members of which had rejected him, and said he would go to the Gentiles, and historians give him credit for being the author of the decision to take the gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles, but that was done in the Lord’s own way and in the proper way.

Peter, as Head of the Twelve, received a revelation when he had the vision on the housetop, in which a sheet was let down and various kinds of meats were shown him, and he dreamed that the Lord said, ‘Arise Peter; stay and eat.’  Peter answered that he had never eaten anything that was unclean.  The Lord then said, ‘Callest thous not unclean that which I have cleansed.’

It seems that at the very same moment three men stood at the door and invited him to come and give the gospel to one Cornelius.  Peter accepted the call, and sat with other Gentiles.

That was a difficult thing for Peter to do, and there occurred the only exception that we have in sacred history where the Holy Ghost was poured out before baptism, and Peter said, ‘Can anyone refuse baptism since he (Cornelius) has received the Holy Ghost as well as we?’  Peter baptized Cornelius and his household.

Then a meeting of the Twelve was called at which James presided, as he was in charge of the branch in Jerusalem, and Peter testified on that occasion as to the case of Cornelius, that he had received the Holy Ghost, and that he was entitled to the gospel.  Paul also witnessed that the Gentiles had received it, and so the great decision was made that the gospel is for all the world, and James and the others of the Twelve ruled that the Gentiles could accept the gospel, and need not be circumcized as the Jews were.

I reported to the Brethren that there has been considerable correspondence with the Negroes in Nigeria on the part of Brother LaMar Williams, and even previous to the present correspondence, and that some of the Negroes in Nigeria have taken upon themselves the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They are asking for some one to come and give the gospel to them.

I stated that these people do not know as yet that they cannot have the Priesthood, although they have received literature from us — the Book of Mormon, and other books and tracts — and are teaching the gospel as they understand it.  The Lord has not revealed anything other than that they are entitled to baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and can participate in all the Auxiliary work and in Sacrament meetings, but they cannot have the Priesthood.

I told the Brethren that in the past two attempts have been made to have the President of the South African Mission visit these people in Nigeria, but because of political conditions they have not had a good visit with them.  It is now learned that two of the British government officials who have had much to do with affairs in Nigeria are in Great Britain, and that President N. Eldon Tanner is well acquainted with them.

The thought has occurred that probably now would be a good time to let the President of the South African Mission on his return home from the Mission Presidents Seminar now being held in Salt Lake City go with President Tanner to Nigeria, have a conference with these people, and let Brother Tanner report back conditions to us.  I shall have a meeting with President Tanner this morning about this matter.

President Brown explained that Brother Tanner feels that it would be necessary to see Mr. Drew, who is the High Commissioner, and is now living in London, and still has some jurisdiction in Nigeria, and also Sir Arthur Savage, former Governor-General of Nigeria, who is now in London.  Brother Tanner has already talked with this gentleman, and it would probably be wise for him to see both of these men in London on his way to Nigeria, and perhaps obtain some credentials from them.  They have previously expressed a willingness to do anything they can for us.

Elder Mark E. Petersen raised a question as to whether or not the Government of South Africa might be offended were we to attempt to do proselyting among these Nigerian people.

Elder Harold B. Lee, speaking to the subject, also mentioned that when he was in South Africa, a little over two years ago, consideration was given to the matter of increasing our missionary quota, and that when he contacted the Ambassador in Washington, and later with President Glen G. Fisher of the South African Mission, and went to Pretoria, the capital, they asked one question – ‘Do you proselyte among the Bantu?’  When they closed down on missionaries coming into the country, they made an investigation of every Church that had been sending in foreign missionaries, and that was the question they asked, and if they had learned that we were proselyting among the negroes, there would have been a real question as to permitting us to do missionary work in South Africa.

President Brown stated that Nigeria is a long way from South Africa, and that there is no political connection between those countries, and that according to Mr. Savage, Nigeria is much further advanced in civilization than is South Africa; in fact, that Nigeria is the furthest advanced of any of the countries in Africa.

I concluded the discussion by saying that we should send to Nigeria the President of the South African Mission to ascertain what the situation is, and make his recommendation; that President Tanner accompany him, representing the General Authorities, and that nothing be done until a report has been received from these Brethren.  I said the question before us this morning is whether or not the Brethren would approve of sending these two brethren to Nigeria in answer to the calls that have come from the people of that country comparable to what Paul received when he received his vision to go to Macedonia.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson moved approval, and the motion was seconded by Mark E. Petersen, and unanimously approved.

Other general matters were taken up, after which the meeting concluded.

9 a.m.

Returned to my private office where I met by appointment Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner.

I asked him, first, as to how he is getting along with the establishing of the Book Store in London, and he reported that they (Elder A. Hamer Reiser) and he are getting along all right in this matter.

I also asked him how President J. Bowring Woodbury is doing as Assistant Editor of the Millennial Star, and he said that he is satisfactory in this position and that their relationship is good.  Brother Tanner is now Editor of the Star.

I then presented to President Tanner the question of Nigeria and missionary work among those people.  He told me that he is well acquainted with the former Governor General of Nigeria – Sir Arthur Savage, and also with Mr. Drew the High Commissioner of Nigeria.  He said they are personal friends and that they have offered to do anything they can to help him.  He believes they will give him letters of recommendation and introduction to the officials in Nigeria.  He said that he would be glad to go to Nigeria in company with the Presdient of the South African Mission and look into this matter and report back to us.”

Wed., 19 July 1961:

“Nigeria – Proselyting in

President Brown reported that he has a letter from President N. Eldon Tanner regarding the expressed desire of the people in Nigeria to received the Gospel in which he reports an interveiw he had with Sir Alfred Savage, former Governor General of Nigeria, and one of the top diplomats in London who is a close friend of President Tanner.  This gentleman pointed out that these people are not of a kind that we can place confidence in them – that they would join any organization that would offer them personal benefits.”

Wed., 16 Aug. 1961:

Nigeria — Appeals From

At our meeting this morning President Brown called attention to appeals from natives in Nigeria for baptism into the Church.  He sated that these natives bear testimony to their faith in the Gospel.  After discussing the matter it was decided to ask LaMar Williams, who has been corresponding with these people, to go to Nigeria accompanying some missionary who may be enroute to the South African Mission for the purpose of meeting with these people on his own responsibility and not under appointment by the Church or with authority to take any action that would involve the Church, the purpose of the visit being to ascertain the situation regarding these people, whether or not they are truly converted to the Gospel and are sincere in their desire to become members.  Brother Williams would be expected to tell these people that we have no paid ministry and that if they become members of the Church they could not hold the priesthood.  It as felt that before making this assignment we should obtain President N. Eldon Tanner’s approval in light of the contacts he has made in London.  The Brethren were agreed that neither President Tanner nor President Alldredge should be requested to make such a visit and that the visit of Brother Williams should be entirely unofficial.  Brother Williams in meeting with these people could tell them that he had come on his own reponsibility in answer to their correspondence to look into the situation there.”

Tues., 26 Sept. 1961:

“8:30 a.m.

Attended the meeting of the First Presidency.  Among many matters we considered the following:

3)  Church’s Attitude Toward Negroes –A letter was read from Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, addressed to President Moyle and President Brown stating that he is deeply concerned over the growing criticism of the Church with regard to the negro question and the rights of minority groups.  He enclosed copies of letters that were addressed to him on this subject by C. Sumner Stone, Jr., editor of the Washington Afro American; also copy of a letter from Bernard J. McDonald to the editor of the Afro American newspaper.  There was also enclosed copy of a letter from William O. Wildes of Valdosta Branch, Florida Mission, on this same subject.  Secretary Udall states that unless something is done to clarify the official position of the Church, the sentiments against the Church regarding its attitude toward the negroes will become more intense and he fears they will become the subject of wide-spread public comment and controversy.

In connection with the letter from Secretary Udall, consideration was given to a letter from Eugene Merrill with which he enclosed a copy of a letter from Fred C. Weyand, Brigadier General, Deputy Chief of Legislative Liaison, addressed to Honorable John N. Baldwin, House of Representatives; also copy of letter from Duane Hill (a colored man) who is an employee of the Benicia Arsenal, a member of the NAACP, a member of the Benicia Arsenal Grievance Committee, and unofficial spokesman as he claims for approximately 700 negroes employed at Benecia Arsenal.  This correspondence has reference to a proposed transfer of 500 negroes within the next 12 months from Benicia Arsenal, Benicia, California, to Tooele, Utah, for duty at Tooele Ordnance Depot, and has particular reference to the matter of housing these negro families in the Tooele area, and raises the question as to whether these negroes will be encouraged and welcomed to attend social gatherings, Mormon churches and other churches, and the community swimming pool, as well as other community affairs, the same as members of other races in the city of Tooele.

I said that we should give the usual reply to Secretary Udall that we always give on this question, namely, that we admit negroes into the Church by baptism, but we do not permit them to have the priesthood.  So far as the matter of accepting the negroes in the Tooele area, that will be left entirely to the community of Tooele whether they accept them, loan them the money, or otherwise receive them, that is their responsibility.  The fact is that we do not welcome negroes into our social affairs because if we did it would lead to inter-marriage, and we do not favor inter-marriage.  We recommend that negroes marry negroes, and that whites marry whites, and we cannot modify that statement.  We object to negroes marrying whites for their own happiness.  I said that we cannot change our attitude until we receive a revelation from the Lord directing otherwise.  I said it is a most difficult problem for us to meet when negro boys and girls attend our meetings, when a negro woman comes with her son to sacrament meeting and 11 boys out of the Primary are put on the stand to be recommended to receive ordination to the office of a deacon and the little negro boy has to sit down by his mother’s side.  It is a most heart-rending experience, but if we change it, we open the door for that priesthood to be given to the negroes.  I said that I had to tell them just that in Brazil, and when the question was raised following a meeting there, one man got up and said that he was in love with a negro girl and raised the question as to whether if he married her their children would be prohibited from receiving the priesthood, and I answered publicly that they would.  I said that we have faced this question in the past, and we shall have to face it now, and I believe that our attitude is right.

Fri., 13 Oct. 1961:

11:45 a.m.

Brother LaMar Williams came in to say goodbye before leaving for his assignment in Nigeria where he is going to investigate matters pertaining to the natives of Nigeria who have asked for baptism and for someone to come to Nigeria to help them organize the Church there.  I told Brother Williams to investigate and report to us especially how we can best get white men who are entitled to hold the Priesthood into Nigeria to preside over a Branch of the Church if and when one is organized.  I told Brother Williams that my blessings and prayers for the success of his mission are with him.  

Tues., 21 Nov. 1961:


Received today a letter from Brother LaMar S. Williams who is in Nigeria at our request to investigate requests that have been coming to us for the past two or three years from people in that country for help in organizing a branch of the Church.  Brother Williams wrote from Lagos, Nigeria and said:

‘I only want to let you know that I am feeling fine and that my assignment has apparently met with success.  There are about 97 small groups consisting of about 5,000 members that now want to be admitted into the Church.  Of course only about 50% could qualify to be baptized.  Many are living clean lives, but are very poor.  I want to express my gratitude to you for this visit to Nigeria.  I pray that the Lord will bless you always.  I will be home about December 1st.  (signed LaMar S. Williams.)

Fri., 5 Dec. 1961:

“8 a.m.

Brother George W. Romney, President of the Detroit Stake, came in to the meeting by appointment previously arranged.  He expressed appreciation for the opportunity to have the counsel of the First Presidency.  He reviewed a meeting he had some time ago with us, and the encouragement he was given to continue his interest and participation in the ‘Citizens for Michigan’ movement.  He said that this organization had succeeded in bringing about a constitutional convention in Michigan with the purpose of enlarging the powers of the state to cope with the problems that are now carried to Washington.  He stated that the Michigan purpose could be a pattern of national importance.

He said that he is a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention and an officer, and now the pressures are building up for him to run for Governor of Michigan.  He said the situation is now developing where he must make some clarifying statement, and he must make some reasoned decision.  He will make a decision by February 10th whether or not he will become a candidate for Governor in Michigan.  He said his primary concern is that there are problems which are being ignored in the country ‘that are going to wreck us.’  He stated that his real concern is the decline of the rule of the state and local government, and the concentration of power which will bring about government control.  He said we are approaching a point where the Federal Government will step in and exercise control over wages and prices, and that the minute the Federal Government goes that far, then our present economic system which is premised upon the people exercising ultimate power, will be ‘out of the window,’ and we shall have some form of statism.

Brother Romney said that he must make a decision that would completely set the future of his life for some time to come.  He said he knows how to settle that; he has fasted and prayed at intervals when he has had a decision to make, but there is a Church aspect that the First Presidency only can resolve.

He said that if he goes into the political situation in Michigan, and campaigns for Governor, the Church will be involved because the Democratic party and the union groups in the Democratic Party will use anything they can in the campaign.  He said the Church has always been an asset to him, and that it will continue to be in this situation, but he said that he is sure critical things will be said about the Church.

I said to Brother Romney:  ‘They know your relationship to the Church.  You are well known in the United States as a member of the Church, and as President of the Detroit Stake.

Brother Romney said ‘That is well known, and it is an asset to me.  One aspect is our position on the negro holding the Priesthood.’  He said that Detroit has a very large negro population, and so had the state of Michigan, and that he is sure that the charge will be made against him that he has a race bias.  He said he has no race bias; that he has worked with the negroes in these programs as much as he has worked with others; that some of the people with whom he has been closely associated in the ‘Citizens for Michigan’ effort have been negroes; that some of the negroes in Michigan are some of the finest people in the state, and are very able people.  But he feels that there is no question but that this particular point will receive a great deal of publicity and public discussion, not only in Michigan, but more broadly.  However, members of his High Council to whom he had talked, think the negro issue will figure in the campaign, but that they think that should not stop him from running; they think he should run; they think that it will do the Church a great deal of good; they think the situation is different from the situation two years ago, and in this President Romney expressed agreement.

I said that there is no question but that the negro question will come up.  I asked Brother Romney if the prominent negroes are well informed as to the Church’s attitude toward the negro, and Brother Romney said that he could not say that they are.  I said that the negroes are admitted into the Church by baptism; they are welcome to become members of the Church, and members of a ward, and to partake of the Sacrament and have full fellowship in everything but not to be ordained to the Priesthood.  President Romney said he thought it would be correct to say that the negroes do not have a complete picture, but they do have a picture that has been widely distributed among the negroes in this country that we do not permit them to have the Priesthood, and they build upon that, and say we have a race bias.  I said that ‘we can offer them all that any other Church can offer, and we do advocate care in marriage; we advocate that Mexicans marry Mexicans; Japanese marry Japanese; Catholics marry Catholics; and Mormons marry Mormons; for the good of family harmony and peace.  We look with hesitancy, and, one might say, suspicion on our Church allowing negroes, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians, to mingle with each other.  That, of course, would encourage marriage.

President Romney said he thinks there is no question that most people would agree in this position, and that people of other religious faiths, who have given serious thought to the question, favor intrafaith rather than inter-faith marriages.

I said that so far as the colored question is concerned, we offer the negroes, and the Indians from India, and the Mexicans, the Japanese, and the Chinese every privilege of the Gospel that any other Church can offer excepting only that the negro is not permitted to hold the Priesthood.  I said, ‘Now, I think we can stand on that.’

President Romney said that it becomes a point you have to deal with and that so far as he is concerned, he is going to stand on it as long as that is the position of the Church.  He said he wanted to be sure from the Church’s standpoint, the First Presidency is not reluctant to have him determine what he should do as best he can, knowing that if he should decide to take a whirl at the political situation, it is going to focus public attention upon this particular part of the Church’s point of view.

I then asked Brother Romney if he did enter this political campaign, if it would necessitate his being released as President of the Detroit Stake.  President Romney said that he would have difficulty discharging both responsibilities, but that he would do what we wanted him to do when the time comes.

He said that if he enters the campaign that he would like to go into it with the blessing of the Brethren; that he would not want to go into it if it does not meet with our accord.  We then went into a long discussion regarding the wisdom of his running for Governor at this time, the feeling of his Board of Directors regarding his seeking political office, etc.  We talked about his efforts in Michigan with the ‘Citizens for Michigan,’ and the Constitutional convention.  I asked Brother Romney if it would not be better for him to run for Governor two years from now, and President Moyle asked him if he would not be in a better political position if he said he would not make any decision until the Constitutional Convention had completed its work; that now he is leaving the job in the middle, unfinished, and seeking public office for himself — that he would not be the same George Romney the minute he announces himself for public office.

We had quite a discussion regarding the pros and cons of his running for governor.  President Moyle asked him if he is not willing to agree that he is a greater man than any governor of Michigan, and that he has greater prestige and a greater following, greater respect today than any governor of Michigan has ever had.  He said further, ‘Are you not stepping down from a high pedestal to a lower one?’  I said that I think there is no doubt about it.

President Romney said there are people who say that from his present platform he can have influence; that our argument is the argument of the Democratic National Committee; that he has to weigh this argument because they have done everything to keep him out of the political picture for two years.

We talked about his success in labor negotiations and felt that this success probably was due to the fact that he has been non-partisan in Michigan, to which Brother Romney

agreed, but added that with Reuther, and his top associates there has been a spirit of respect; that has been an important factor.  He said that he had just started a series of discussions with Reuther on the premise that neither of them had had a chance to discuss a philosophy; that he started and said to Reuther, ‘Do you believe in a Creator, the Declaration of Independence, and the constitution?’ and that Reuther agreed with him.

We then discussed the Negro question again, and we told Brother Romney about Brother LaMar Williams’ visit to Nigeria and of the 4,000 Nigerians who want to be baptized into the Church.  We told him that these people had been told that they cannot hold the Priesthood, yet they still want to be baptized.

After a brief discussion on this matter, our interview came to a conclusion, and I told Brother Romney that we were very much interested in the presentation he had made; that we were glad to get the picture clearly in mind.  Brother Romney said he would keep everything which had been said in mind in undertaking to arrive at a decision, and I said that the Lord would guide him; that he is to retain his presidency of the Detroit Stake, and realize that he has an obligation to the Church.  Brother Romney said he had no question about complying with our desires in that respect.  He said that he left with the definite feeling that the counsel of the Brethren would be for him not to go into this campaign at the present time, and I said that we felt that his present influence, great as we recognize it, would be maintained by having him remain just as he is as President of the Stake, and head of his organization and bring about this Constitutional Convention.  I said that I think as a Republican governor he would have less influence than George Romney, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Detroit, and head of this Citizens movement; that he should see that to a successful conclusion, and President Moyle added, ‘And head of American Motors.’  I said that he would have Democrats and Republicans honoring George Romney and doing what he says.

Brother Romney said that in connection with his company – that they had reached a point where he has the undivided top responsibility.  Said that they are doing a billion dollars worth of business, and that he is still running the whole thing.  Said that he must have an operating head, and that he has to do that and make a decision indicated by our discussion; that then he would probably get himself in a position to devote himself to policy.

Brother Romney then said that the American Motors was happy to have the opportunity to be associated with the Choir presentation on television; and said, ‘We are going to keep what we say institutional, and not commercial, not as I do when I talk ‘product.’  He said they were happy to do what they are doing as a public service and I said that if it were not for George Romney there would be no connection with the Choir on this occasion; that it is through him that the American Motors is sponsoring this program.

Mon., 18 Dec. 1961:

10 a.m.

Nigeria – Report of visit to

Went to the third floor Assembly Room where Brother LaMar Williams reported his visit to Nigeria.  He introduced his presentation with a series of colored slides of groups with whom he met in towns of Nigeria in November, 1961, with the explanation that for many years in the missionary department he has answered letters of inquiry, and has sent Gospel tracts and literature desired by the writers.  He quoted a statement of the First Presidency of October 1840, before the martyrdom of the Prophet, about missionary work: ‘If the work rolls forth with the same rapidity it has heretofore done, we may soon expect to see flocking to this place, people from every land and from every nation; the polished European, the degraded Hottentot, and the shivering Laplander; persons of all languages, and of every tongue, and of every color; who shall with us worship the Lord of Hosts in His holy temple, and offer up their orisons in His sanctuary.’  (D.H.C. Iv, p.213).

Brother Williams said he had received many letters from leaders of groups requesting that the Church come to Nigeria.  Brother Williams exhibited several slides of groups in Nigeria.  He said that upwards of 4,000 people are members of the groups, about half of whom are observing the standards of the Church.  They have adopted the name ‘Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ and desire to be affiliated with the Church.  They have studied the literature of the Church which they have received, and by themselves have undertaken to live according to the standards they have discovered from their study alone.  One of the leaders, when the subject of authority for baptism was discussed, explained that the baptism they have practiced is sprinkling, but agreed that baptism should be by immersion, and said that he could not re-baptize his fellows because he had no authority to baptize.  (see written report following)

Monday, December 18, 1961


by LaMar S. Williams

After four weeks of proselyting with many groups of the African natives in Nigeria, I wish to report that there are many hundreds of persons desirous of being admitted into the Church.  I have specifically instructed the leaders and many of the members that they cannot have a paid ministry if they become affiliated with us, neither can they receive welfare assistance from Church headquarters.  They understand that they cannot receive the Priesthood until it is authorized from the Lord.  They do not object to the guidance and supervision of white persons or anyone holding the Priesthood as long as they are given an opportunity to participate in Church activities.

I found them to be loyal, trustworthy, and morally clean.  They are living the Word of Wisdom in many instances equal to our own members.  Although I was unable to meet personally with all the groups and their members, I was able to meet with their main leaders and receive assurance, without exception, that they are strongly desirous of becoming affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Udo-Ete is the leader of 14 groups and 400 members.  Honesty John Ekong directs 11 churches with 300 members.  An Evangelist by the name of Ekwere has one group of 12 members.  M.U. Okoro has one group with 16 members, and Charles Agu has one group with 25 members.  These last two groups are growing rapidly since they were only organized one week before I left for home.  A.D. Obot has 75 churches with 75 Elders, 70 Evangelists, 78 Deacons, 75 Teachers, 335 Sunday School Teachers, 30 Sunday School Superintendents, 75 Secretaries, 2 Recording Secretaries, 1 Bishop with two assistants, and 4,056 members.  These figures represent a total of 103 groups with 4,809 members.  The largest group has a membership of 300.  The weekly attendance is approximately 66 percent.  It may be interesting to note that at the rate of one baptism and one confirmation every four minutes, it would take approximately 32 days working 10 hours a day without interruption to bring this many souls into the Church.

Most of these people are extremely poor, and they are in great need of schools and church buildings.  I have taken many colored pictures and have recorded a few testimonies of their leaders.

I wish to recommend, due to the seriousness of this problem, that a member of the First Presidency or a General Authority be immediately assigned to visit these people, for I sincerely believe that the Lord has prepared the way for the Gospel to be given to them.

If you desire, I will be happy to discuss problems concerning the acquisition of land, building of schools, location of temporary missionary headquarters, living facilities, transportation, or to give any other information that I might have in resolving this problem.

Sincerely yours,

LaMar S. Williams”

Wed., 3 Jan., 1962:

“8:30 – 10:30 a. m. Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency.

Among other matters, we considered a letter from President George Romney of the Detroit Stake. President Romney expressed his appreciation for the interest, advice and counsel given him by the First Presidency on the occasion of his visit. He reviewed recent developments in Michigan; the meeting last week of the Board of Directors of “Citizens for Michigan” at which the consensus was that he had fully discharged his obligations and should feel free to enter his candidacy for governor of Michigan; that several Democratic members and independents have urged him to run; that “Citizens for Michigan” is hopeful of receiving a grant from the Ford Foundation. which will enable them to carry out some of its broader objectives; that the state ‘s leading negro Democrats strongly advises that Brother Romney be a candidate, and that it would help rather than to hurt in the writing of the state constitution if he is a candidate; his prospective candidacy is being sought by conservative Republicans. The constitutional convention is starting its decisive period and this will be completed by January 31st. Brother Romney’s maximum influence will be given in that period. He expects that by the time the committee reports the situation will be cleared

He reported that American Motors is working out an interim management plan and his company responsibilities will not be an obstacle to his running.

He expressed the desire that his candidacy would not be hurtful to the Church by reason of the negro question.

He reported that his counselors in the stake presidency and members of the high council are unanimous in their advice to him to be a candidate for governor. The letter from his counselor, President Jensen, addressed to him was read. It expressed the advice of himself and high council that President Romney be a candidate, and promised their support and their willingness to take on more responsibility in tile stake so the stake work will not be adversely affected.

A newspaper clipping from the “Letter Box” signed by Gerald L. Morron supporting his candidacy was also read.

After careful consideration, I said that we do not want to take the responsibility of telling him not to run, and it is not right for him to give us that responsibility. President Moyle said we should say that we want him to remain as stake president, and that he should make his own decision without any feeling that if he decides to run it will be detrimental to the Church.

I said that it will not be detrimental in any way, but it will be detrimental to his candidacy if he is released before. We should let him run as president of the Detroit Stake and win as president of the stake. If he fails in nomination or election, he is still president of the stake.”

Tues., 9 Jan., 1962:

“[First Presidency Meeting] The Self-Styled “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” in Nigeria. The following conversation ensued concerning the problem of taking the Gospel to those asking for baptism in Nigeria:

McKay: “A very important question we have to decide, and we will bring it up next Thursday — we have all heard the report of Brother Williams regarding Nigeria — we have several hundred people there who have taken upon themselves the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unauthoritatively, and they are asking that we come down. What shall be our attitude toward this invitation ? “

Brown: “It is probably a precedent establishing decision.”

McKay: “It is as great in the Church today as the question that nearly split the primitive Church when they preached only to the Jews.”

Moyle: “Sooner or later it will have to receive the same answer. “

McKay: “Before that time every Roman or Gentile had to become a Jew to become a member of the church.  Paul is given credit for having carried the gospel to the Gentiles, and I suppose he did, but he had made them Jews by circumcision and of abstaining from meats and so on, but really that revelation came to Peter.”

Brown: “He opened the door. “

McKay: “It took the Lord to do it, and he and Paul were witnesses before the Twelve when the Twelve had to decide whether to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. James presided at that meeting, James the brother of the Lord, because Peter was a witness and Paul was a witness, and Peter related the experience he had when he had the vision on the housetop, you remember, a sheet was lowered with several meats. In the dream, the Lord said: “Rise, Peter, kill and eat,” and he said: “Not so Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. ” And the voice said: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” When he went to Cornelius, the centurion, he sat down, contrary to his teaching and training, to the table with those Gentiles. It was against the rules. But he heard Cornelius — it was Cornelius, the centurion. The Holy Ghost came upon the centurion, and Peter said: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we ?” The only exception in the holy scripture that the Holy Ghost came without baptism, and it took the experience of Cornelius, and that was even after the dream. “Can we forbid baptism to those who receive the Holy Ghost as well as we?” And he gave that testimony to the Twelve. James gave the decision that they can join the Church without circumcision. Even after that it was hard for some members of the Church to sit down to the table and eat with Gentiles. Peter sat down with them and Paul was offended with him when some members came from the Jerusalem church and Peter got up from the table and walked away. That prompted Paul’s saying: “I withstood him to his face,” because he did not conform to the ruling and he was recalcitrant. Contrast Peter ‘s remark when he referred to Paul saying: “Our beloved brother Paul …. hath written … things in which are some things hard to be understood which they that are. . . in unstable wrest as they do other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

McKay: “Well, that is the beginning of the Gentiles coming into the Church. They did not comprehend what Jesus said: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel unto every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.’

Now we are facing just such a crisis, and we had better be united on it either one way or the other. “

Moyle: “I have never been able to reconcile myself to the thought that we won’t baptize them. “

McKay: “We have baptized them.”

Moyle: “That has been my feeling.”

McKay: “We baptize them here in the Church, and they are entitled to it. “

Moyle: “After that is settled, the only question left is the procedure which we follow, not only in baptizing them, but in taking care of them after baptism.”

McKay: “There is no other conclusion so far as we are concerned, but every colored man, every negro and Indian are classed with the negroes in Africa, but they are not. An Indian can receive the priesthood, and the negro cannot receive the priesthood.”

Brown: “I am wondering, President McKay, if we are not in much the same position. Can we deny them having received the Holy Ghost, unless we can say that they have been converted by the holy spirit. If they have been converted and they are truly converted, if they are converted by the spirit, who are we to deny them?  It seems to me that there is a comparable situation there, and I agree with Brother Moyle, we can do nothing else.  It raises many problems — they are very poor people, they are pretty much illiterate. It will involve much over-seeing and guidance.

McKay: “We will have to furnish them that from here. We will have to send your son and my son, and my grandson and your grandson.”

Brown: “To labor with them. It is a tremendous 


McKay: To have this answered properly and to take care of them properly, there will be thousands come into the Church.”

Moyle: “And they will be spared from membership in the Catholic Church.”

McKay: “I think they should remain where they are; to urge marriage among their kind. The question of intermarriage bothers me more than anything.”

Moyle: “I have been sort of obsessed with the idea all the way along that in our organization it ought to be combined as far as possible to our auxiliary organizations. I don’t know whether that is sound or not, but where they are not going to hold the priesthood themselves, it seems to me that it would be consistent for them to be organized into auxiliary organizations that we are going to have, if Brother Williams’ report is right, and I am sure it is, we are going to have a concentration of them there as far as numbers are concerned to justify wards and stakes, and I have never been able to think that out in mind. I have dealt more with the idea that they will be organized on the Sabbath Day as Sunday Schools, and we would have to have someone there occasionally for any regular administration of the Sacrament to them, and week-day auxiliary activities could be carried on in many branches without the priesthood. It is auxiliary to the priesthood unless we were to look forward and have a large corps of missionaries there rather than a small corps to travel, just a few missionaries that would travel and take care of ordinations of the priesthood, that will be necessary such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the Sacrament, administration of the sick and blessing children. They could themselves in their own auxiliary organizations take care of the balance of their activities.”

Brown: “I wonder if the time is coming when we will give the Lesser Priesthood to them. Whether the prohibition or direction with respect to the priesthood upon which we rely applies to both the Melchizedek and the Aaronic priesthood I have never thought of it before, but I wonder if we give them the Aaronic Priesthood, and then they could administer the Sacrament and baptize under the direction of tile missionaries, but that is a matter I do not know about.”

McKay: “You do that and you give them the priesthood.”

Moyle: “There is no doubt about that.”

Brown: “That’s the opening of the door. I don’t think the time has come, but it may come when the Lord directs it, but we can go along the lines President Moyle indicates.”

McKay: “That means that there is no other line within the organization of the Church. You have the Sunday School as a part of the ward; Primary, the Mutual Improvement Association, is part of the ward, and you have the Relief Society.”

Moyle: “We have Sunday Schools in the Church today out in the mission field that are only related to the mission and not to a branch or ward.”

McKay: “It is always related to a branch, always.”

Moyle: “In the mission field today we are holding Sunday Schools not related to any branch.”

McKay: “That’s the beginning of a branch; it belongs to it. The authority is of the branch.”

Moyle: ”Mainly they function under the mission president.”

McKay: “It functions under the mission president, yes. “

Moyle: “If we have a mission president, we have a Sunday School and other auxiliaries in each of the places where we have a concentration of membership without having anyone between them and the mission president, such as a group or branch or district president. I am just asking the question — I am not saying — is that not possible?”

McKay: “Here is a problem that is real. Already in the Church we have colored people, members of the Church, they are faithful in attendance to their duties; they keep the Word of Wisdom, pay their tithing attend their meetings. The children participate in the Primary from four years and on; the young girls and young men participate in the auxiliary associations. They study the lessons and associate with the white people in every way in the Church; they are just as faithful as members of the Church — those with whom we have met. In Primary the little boys and girls answer the questions and study the lessons and when they are eight years of age, they are baptized and confirmed before the Church. When a boy becomes 12 years of age, in Sacrament meeting, he goes with his fellow Primary members and the custom now is to have these young men who are about to be ordained deacons set up on the stand and be presented by the Primary worker to the bishop as being worthy to be accepted as deacons. In that Sacrament meeting the colored boy has to sit down by the side of his mother and the other boys walk up. He has been received all the way along as a member of the Church and has participated in everything else, but now at that meeting he sits down, unworthy to be associated.”

Moyle: “It is a rude segregation.”

McKay: “Now if you give him the Lesser Priesthood, the time will come — “

Brown: “The problem will come up when he should be ordained a deacon and when he will be a priest and then an elder. The situation will not obtain in Africa for quite a long time.”

Moyle: “Suppose they migrate after baptism? We can’t compel them not to.”

McKay: “You can’t compel them not to.”

Moyle: “That’s one of the hazards. If the spirit of gathering gets on them, they will come, and you can’t stop them. It will be some time, however, before the economic condition will permit their migration.”

President McKay referred to a comedian (Sammy Davis) who appeared last Sunday on television (What’s My Line) and then President McKay commented on the great volume of applause which greeted the comedian. The present frequency of the appearance of negroes on television programs and the introduction of Catholic nuns and priests into the programs was also commented upon. The comment that if the B. Y. U. is to have a winning basketball team, it will have to get some negroes, was reported. Explanation was made that the comedian’s wife is a Scandinavian girl and they have a colored baby.

McKay: “I picture just such a difficult problem facing us because no doubt there are some leaders down there.”

Moyle: “When it becomes known that we are over there, of course, and have baptized this colony, it will become known to the negroes of this country, and they will take whatever advantage they can in their fight against us.”

McKay: “No question about it. There is a disposition on the part of the southern negroes to push themselves. If I lived in the south I would not want to be associated with that.”

Moyle: “The organization’s headquarters is in Chicago. That is the NAACP.”

McKay: “If they would stay with themselves and marry among themselves the question will be easy, but intermarriage would be an inevitable result, and I don’t believe in it.”

Moyle: “There seems to be less compunction in Europe. White girls marry negroes. They have no trouble in picking up a German or French or English white girl.”

McKay: “Now brethren, we have got to decide before next Tuesday. We will present it to the Twelve and make a decision.”

Moyle: “Should you present it to the Twelve until your mind is clear as to what we should do? That will inevitably lead to an expression of many views over there. It has just been my feeling, or maybe my hope, that you would satisfy yourself as to what should be done and advise us.”

McKay: “I want to hear from them just as we have heard from you this morning. “

Moyle: “That’s fine.”

McKay: ”We are facing a problem just as serious as that before the original Twelve.”

Brown: “The same problem. The color doesn’t matter. Shall we preach the gospel to every creature.”

McKay: “That’s clear, they are entitled to the gospel, but the priesthood is another thing.”

Brown: “You don’t intend to decide any change on that at this time.”

McKay: “You can’t deal with this in a proper way unless you do. God bless you, brethren.”

Fri., 2 Feb., 1962:

“[Meeting of First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric] Question as to Whether Membership Cards Should Indicate Color and Race of Members — Bishop Vandenberg mentioned that at the present time the membership records do not indicate race or color of the individual, that however at times the question is raised as to how many members we have of a certain race, particularly in regard to negroes.

President Moyle mentioned that President George Romney of the Detroit Stake called him regarding a meeting he was going to have with the negro national organization in Detroit, and he said that if the figures were available he would like very much to know how many members of the Church there are with negro blood. President Moyle said he had already sent to President Romney information he had been able to obtain from the Historians Office regarding the three negroes that came to these valleys with the pioneers in July 1847. As to the number of negroes in the Church he had referred this matter to the Presiding Bishopric.  He felt it might be advantageous to know how many negroes, how many Chinese, Japanese, and other races there are. I said that to do this would result in emphasizing the number of negroes and the distinction between the Caucasian and the negro races, and would perhaps raise some knotty problems.  I suggested that we think further about this matter before taking any action.

Lady Missionaries with Negro Blood in Brazil

The question was again raised in regard to permitting two young ladies who it is suspected may have a mixture of negro blood to serve as local missionaries in Brazil. Neither of these girls is dark, nor can it be readily recognized that they have negro blood, but one is a daughter of a man who, while a member of the Church, shows signs of having negro blood.

I said that for the present we will draw the line where it is known definitely that they have negro blood, but where they are merely suspected of having negro blood they should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Tues., 6 Feb., 1962:

[First Presidency Meeting] Basketball Controversy U. S. U. and B. Y. U.

A letter was read from Professor V. D. Gardner of the Business Administration, Utah State University, referring to a controversy that arose in connection with a basketball game played at Logan a year ago between the Brigham Young University and the Utah State University basketball teams, as a result of which the two men involved, Bob Wilson of the BYU and Haney of the USU (Haney is a colored boy) were ‘benched.’ Wilson was not permitted to play in the game at Logan on January 26th of this year, and the report is that Haney will not be permitted to play on the USU team at Provo when the two teams meet there February 10th.

Professor Gardner, in his letter, refers to a lesson on tolerance which was given by me and published in the book “Secrets of a Happy Life,”

and he expresses the hope that I would call a conference of the presidents of the two schools and terminate the punishment of these players.

President Moyle explained that as he understood it the trouble that arose between these players which caused this difficulty was that last

year following the game between these two teams at Logan, Haney, a colored boy on the USU team, struck Wilson, one of the players of the BYU team, and Wilson retaliated. Haney started the fight thinking that because he, Haney, was a negro, Wilson would not retaliate, and it was felt that he had done so intentionally. President Moyle felt that the right action had been taken in regard to the “benching” of these two players. I, too, agreed that the right action had been taken, that inasmuch as Wilson had been “benched” from the game at Logan, it was only proper that Haney should suffer the same punishment in the game at Provo.

Referring to the lesson on tolerance that the professor mentioned, I related that in 1897, with other missionaries, I crossed the Atlantic to

go on my mission. Some of the missionaries were former University

of Utah students. Also on board were the Fiske Jubilee Singers, a group of colored people. As the missionaries lined up to register, one of the University boys said, “I’ll not sit at the table with any negroes, ” and some of them heard him. Some of the others felt the same way, but they were not unwise enough to make such a public remark. The missionaries did not have to sit in the dining room with any negroes, but some of the negro singers sat at the captain’s table as honored guests, and of course Mormon missionaries were not invited to sit at the captain’ s table.

It was a very stormy voyage and the soprano singer, a beautiful mulatto girl, had been unable to come to the dining room, but she did come to the farewell party just before the company landed and she sang a beautiful soprano solo, the chorus of which impressed me very much because of the remark made at the time of the assignment to the seats in the dining room. These were the words which she sang: “If you want to know a Christian, just watch his acts and walks. If you want to know a Christian, just listen how he talks.”

We agreed that we should not enter into this basketball controversy.

Mon., 26 Feb., 1962:

“9:15-10:00 a.m.

Office consultation with Brother LaMar S. Williams regarding groups in Nigeria who are requesting baptism.  I told Brother Williams that he will hear more about this from the First Presidency in a short time.  We have received two more letters from members of this group asking that we give consideration to their plea that we organize the Church in Nigeria.

(See notes from Bro. Williams following.)

Organization of Nigerian Mission

Monday, February 26, 962

This morning at 9:10 A.M. I stepped into President David O. McKay’s Office to inform the secretary that he wanted me to see him before next Thursday’s Temple Meeting, concerning the situation in Nigeria. She said, “Just a minute, I think he wants to see you now.” (He was in the process of reading a letter from Udo-Ete of Nigeria, that he had just received. In a few minutes he asked me to come in.)

We discussed some of the problems of establishing the Church in Nigeria. We talked about schools, location of mission headquarters, living conditions, and etc. I suggested that Aba, due to its central location, would perhaps be the most convenient temporary headquarters. Lagos, the federal Capital, and Port Harcourt were also considered.

I was informed that the Gospel would be taken to the Nigerians or colored people, and that the auxiliary organizations of the Church would be established among the existing groups.

President McKay asked me if I would be willing to go over and help establish the mission. I answered that I would. The name of the mission was suggested as the Nigerian Mission and agreed upon. He asked me to select two couples without children and present their names to him.

It was decided that the Nigerian Mission would be placed under the direction of President Nathan Eldon Tanner of the West European Mission, since Great Britain has been protectorate of Nigeria for many years until it received its independence on October 1, 1960. The existing friendly relationship between Great Britain and Nigeria was the determininy factor in placing Nigeria under the West European Mission instead of the South African Mission.

(For part II see March 3,1962)”

Wed., 28 Feb., 1962:

“[First Presidency Meeting] Letters from Nigeria 

A letter from Uda Eta of Nigeria was read. The writer expressed thanks for sending the missionaries, LaMar Williams and Elder Jones, to Nigeria in November 1961, and asked if other missionaries will be sent to organize the groups.

Another letter from Aska Apani also expressed interest in having the missionaries.

I reviewed my intention to present to the Council of the Twelve tomorrow the proposal that Nigeria be made a part of the West European Mission under President Tanner; that LaMar Williams be sent down to open the mission; that he go for six months; that he take with him two couples without children; that no announcement be made, but that they be sent down with President Tanner and let them baptize the people in accordance with the action of the Twelve; have them organized into branches and direct the finishing of the meeting houses which are now partly finished .

I said: “We can do with the Nigerian Mission what we are doing with the others — furnish enough money to finish these new branch houses and give them credit for their labor on an 80-20 basis, and then we will have President Tanner and LaMar and these two couples make recommendations to us. Brother LaMar Williams has been asked to recommend couples to accompany him. “

It was agreed that this suggestion be given to the Council at the meeting tomorrow .

Thur., 1 Mar., 1962:

8:00 a.m.

Dictated notes for Council Meeting regarding missionary work in Nigeria .

8:30-9:55 a.m.

Attended First Presidency’s Meeting. We had a long discussion about

Genealogical problems in France. (For details, see First Presidency’s 

Minutes of this day.)

Proselyting in Nigeria — The following conversation ensued regarding the Nigerian question:

President McKay: “We would like to present today our recommendation regarding letters and action taken by the Twelve regarding Nigeria. I have had a talk with Brother Williams. He is swamped with inquiries from the so-called branches in Nigeria as to what policy will be established regarding their request to join our Church. I have this to recommend:

First, that we organize a Nigerian Mission; that the organization be placed not under South Africa, but under the West Europen Mission, President Tanner; that Brother Tanner with his approval and our suggestion appoint Brother Williams temporarily as president of the Nigerian Mission; that Brother Williams go down without his family; that Brother Williams accompany President Tanner down there; that they take with them two couples without children and that the four attend to the baptizing of the people in the branches.”

President Brown: “Two pairs of elders ? “

President Moyle: “No, a man and wife. “

President McKay: “A man and his wife without children. It is no place to take children down there. These men will have to choose later. We have asked for some names. They are looking for them now. President Tanner, Brother Williams, and these two couples should go down and meet these so-called branches, and that they authoritatively baptize those who have been baptizing themselves into the Church. “

President Brown: “I don’t think they have baptized, have they?”

President McKay: “They have been doing baptizing, but they recognize that it is without authority.

They would then organize their branches under the direction of these elders. They have also in an unfinished state several chapels which they have built themselves but they have not finished them. Let Brother Tanner and Brother Williams report back to the First Presidency the unfinished chapels, and we shall present these to the Expenditures Committee on the same basis as we do in other places, 70-30, and let them build their own chapels, and we shall furnish enough cash on the same basis and let them have a place to worship, and these missionaries will continue to hold branch meetings weekly or monthly and administer the sacrament and organize the auxiliaries to be presided over by the local men and try not to make any publicity, not to give it any publicity, but it will have publicity over the Church as soon as we do it. “

That is as far as we can go today, if that is approved. “

President Brown: “We will not give it any publicity here. “

President McKay: “Try not to. “

We then discussed the choosing of the couples to accompany President Tanner and Brother Williams, and it was decided that we would wait until recommendations had been received before considering this further.”

“10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Attended Council Meeting held in the Salt Lake Temple. At this meeting, I again called attention to the situation in Nigeria where a large number of natives of the black race, about 4,000 in all, claim that they are converted to the truth of the gospel and are appealing for baptism and membership in the Church. I mentioned the fact that the matter had been before the Twelve, and each one of the Brethren, as well as the Brethren of the First Presidency, had expressed himself on the question. I also mentioned that Brother LaMar Williams has received literally dozens of letters from these people.

At the meeting of the Council when this matter was given consideration, the First Presidency had promised to bring to the Council some definite recommendation based upon the attitude of the Brethren at that time, and so I presented the following suggestions for consideration by the Presidency and the Twelve:

(1) That a mission be organized in Nigeria without any public announcement or fanfare, and that it be not attached to the South African Mission, but to the West European Mission. Nigeria has been under the direction of England, and they have had a Governor-General there who was an Englishman. Now they are independent. Most of them speak English, especially the young people. One group cannot understand the native language spoken by another group 50 or 100 miles away, so when they come together the universal language is English, a sort of pidgin English.

(2) That we appoint LaMar S. Williams to return to Nigeria without his family and spend such time as is necessary with President N. Eldon Tanner of the West European Mission in organizing these groups; also that he and President Tanner take with them two married couples, with no children, to labor there. The decision as to who these couples will be will rest with the Presidency and the Twelve. These four men can then do the official baptizing of the members of these groups numbering almost 4,000 people. It is also recommended that the two couples remain there and visit these groups once a week, once in two weeks, or once every month, as may be necessary, giving them the privilege of the Sacrament after they have been baptized properly, and organizing them into auxiliaries, and appointing local authorities who are worthy and capable of guiding these groups. They will probably land at Port Harcourt, which is the largest port. The accommodations there are good, but the headquarters will probably be at Aba, 40 miles northeast inland from the port. That is where the large group is located.

(3) That President Tanner and Elder Williams be authorized to inspect unfinished meeting houses which the people there are attempting to build by their own effort, and recommend to the First Presidency and the Twelve the amount of money to be appropriated to finish these meeting houses, the Church to assist them on the same basis as we help other missions — namely, 70-30, giving them credit for their local labor, and the Church furnishing the cash necessary.

President Joseph Fielding Smith moved approval of these recommendations. Motion seconded by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, and unanimously approved.

Elder Harold B. Lee asked if these brethren would set apart those who are called to preside over the various auxiliary organizations, and I answered that they would, and that they would do it authoritatively, but these local people would not serve by virtue of the Priesthood.

Elder Lee also inquired if the Brethren felt assured of the personal

safety of these white missionaries, and reminded of what had happened to the whites in northern Nigeria.

I called attention to Brother Williams’ report wherein it was stated that no woman had been molested there for several years. I said that we would, of course, have to wait to hear from President Tanner and Brother Williams and these elders, that we should feel our way in the matter; that, however, we cannot ignore their appeals for baptism. I said they will want schools, and the government will pay the teachers. I added that I have asked for a list of people who might be considered for appointment to this mission, and would submit the list of names at the next meeting of the Council.

It was thought that the first thing Brother Tanner and Brother Williams should do would be to consult the government officials. I stated that the Spirit will have to guide us, and that we are facing a very important epoch in the history of the Church.

Elder Lee expressed the thought that the Brethren of this group should have the understanding that any expressions on the subject should come from

the First Presidency and not from anyone else; that we should not become publicity agents for what is happening in Nigeria.

I concluded that this is just as important in our history as when James presided over the Council that gave consideration to the matter of carrying the gospel to the Gentiles, when Peter gave testimony, as also did Paul, and James gave the decision that was carried by the twelve.”

Sat., 3 Mar., 1962:

“( See February 26th for part I)

Saturday, March 3, 1962 Organization of Nigerian Mission – part II

President David O. McKay called my home this morning and asked my wife to have me get in touch with him as soon as she could locate me. I returned President McKay’s phone call and made arrangements to see him at 

his apartment at the Hotel Utah. I arrived there at 12:50 P.M. and was invited into his office.

He first told me of a nose hemorrhage that he had had about three months ago while spending a weekend in Huntsville with his wife, Rae, and others of his family. He then proceeded to inform me that the First Presidency had discussed the matter of establishing the Church in Nigeria at their meeting Wednesday morning, February 28th, and that they and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had made it a matter of business at their meeting in the Temple, Thursday, March 1st.

President McKay informed me that I was to go to Nigeria and that he wanted me to go alone without my wife and children for a period of not less than six months, to baptize those who wanted to come into the Church, and to organize them into branches.

He also informed me that two married couples without children were to be chosen to assist in the work. He asked me if I would submit to him the names of two couples to be called on a mission for this purpose.

At a later date in his office, I asked President McKay to whom I was responsible on this special assignment and to whom I should report. He informed me that I was to report directly to him in all things pertaining to this assignment .

I was informed that President Nathan Eldon Tanner, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles, who is presiding over the West European Mission, had been notified by wire to attend April Conference. At this time, he and I with President McKay are to discuss this whole matter.

By: LaMar S . Williams”

Tues., 20 Mar., 1962:

Drove down from Huntsville this morning. Arrived at the office at 8:00 a. m., and went immediately into a meeting with the Primary Presidency.

. . . .

I presented a list of names of men in Nigeria and said that a considerable group of people who have obtained information about the Church have adopted the name of the Church and want to become members. I said that they will not receive the priesthood, but that they will benefit by having the auxiliaries of the Church.  I asked if the Primary Association would be interested in sending the Children’s Friend to these men who are leaders in the communities and who can make the magazine available to the children. Sister Parmley said that they should be pleased to send the magazine, and asked if lesson materials should also be sent. I said that they will come later, that we will start with this magazine, and told Sister Parmley to send them with their compliments. Sister Parmley said, “We will send them with you compliments if you like.” I said, “No,” that we have some preliminary work to do with them yet.

Fri., 23 Mar., 1962:


ON MARCH 23, 1962, AT 8:30 A. M.

Present: President David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, Ernest L. Wilkinson

Absent: President Henry D, Moyle (excused)

The following matters were taken up with the First Presidency and the following decisions made:

10. Exercising Influence on Other Institutions in the State. President Wilkinson referred to the following practices existing among the state institutions of higher learning:

a. The very active solicitation of negro and other athletes to attend those institutions with the result that the normal students at those institutions really do not have the opportunity that they normally would have to become members of athletic teams of those institutions. He referred also to some of the moral problems that have resulted in Logan and Salt Lake City.

Wed., 4 Apr. 1962:

11:05 a.m.

Brother Alma Sonne, Assistant to the Twelve, came in and I talked with him regarding the negro situation at the Utah State University in Logan.  I consulted with Elder Sonne as head of the University Board, having already spoken to the head of the Utah State University, who had said that he would do whatever we suggested.  I told Brother Sonne that we cannot refuse them registration, but that the University need not solicit negroes for the basketball team.  I asked Brother Sonne to take this word back to the president of the University.

I reported that the president of the University had called in the negro who got one of our girls into trouble; that the negro admitted it, and said he did not have the standards that we have.  The president told him that if ever anything of that kind happened again, he would be discharged from the institution.”

Thurs., 5 Apr. 1962:

“3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Elder N. Eldon Tanner, President of the West European Mission, came in and took up a number of matters pertaining to his mission.  I informed President Tanner that the decision had been made to do something about the Nigerian situation; that the Brethren will want President Tanner to go down to Nigeria the latter part of October or November, and that the administration of the work there will be placed under him.

Thursday, April 5, 1962


12. President McKay informed President Tanner that the decision had been made to do something about the Nigerian situation; that the Brethren will want President Tanner to go down the latter part of October or November and that the administration of the work in Nigeria would be placed under President Tanner.

Thurs., 26 Apr. 1962:

“9:00 a.m.

We interrupted our First Presidency’s meeting to receive a courtesy call from Ambassador William Marmon Quao Halm, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, and his wife, Mrs. Jocelyn Halm.  They were accompanied by their secretary, Miss Clair Akewei, Mr. G.F. Dov, press attache, Brother Evan Wright, former president of the South African Mission, and Theodore Cannon of the Church Information Service.

Ambassador Halm explained that Ghana was originally the name of the country, and that during the time it was a British Colony, it was known as the Gold Coast, but that when it gained its independence the old name of Ghana was restored.

In response to my inquiry as to the prosperity of the country, the Ambassador remarked, ‘We are doing our best.  We would like everything to be done over night.’  I stated, ‘That is youth.’

I then asked if this part of the country was under President Wright, to which President Wright replied that he assumed that the whole continent was under the South Africa Mission, and that he made weekend stops at Accra.  I recalled that I had been on a plane going to South Africa which made a night’s stop at Accra, one going and one returning from South Africa in 1954.

I asked the members of the party if they are enjoying their visit, and if they have a favorable impression of the ‘Yankees.’  Mr. Halm explained that he has been in Washington two and a half years, but that this is his first trip into the west.

In reply to President Brown’s question as to the Ambassador having served in Israel, Ambassador Halm said that he had, and it was a very interesting assignment.

President Brown also commented upon the report that the Ambassador and his wife have two sons and five daughters.  The Ambassador said ‘yes’ and in his country they rejoice because they have daughters since the commercial life of the country is in the hands of the women.

I said, ‘We have five sons and two daughters.  The boys are active, but the girls are super-active.’  The Ambassador said, ‘That’s always the case, especially in Ghana.’

In response to President Moyle’s question, the Ambassador said that he was educated in a Wesleyan (Methodist) school in Sierre Leone, a thousand miles distance from Ghana, though he is now an Episcopalian (The Church of England.)  I commented upon the growth of the Church, and the Ambassador said ‘I hope it will not be long before you will have representatives in Ghana.’  I said, ‘Thank you.  We have already received a very cordial invitation to go to Nigeria from about a thousand people there who have accepted our Church.’

President Brown asked about the location of Nigeria with relation to Ghana, and the Ambassador explained that is is about 400 miles distance to the west.

President Moyle said, ‘Ghana is near the equator?’

The Ambassador explained that it is about five degrees from the equator, that in the summer months it is hot and humid.  The temperature would be 85 degrees, and that the climate in Accra is pleasant because of the breezes from the ocean.  He said that it is not warmer than in Washington, and that in the evening it is very pleasant, ideal.

I said, ‘We can see that your heart is in Ghana and not in Washington.’

The Ambassador added that Accra is possibly 300 feet above sea level.

I said, ‘It must be a very pleasant climate.’

The Ambassador said, ‘When you have time, we wish you could come and have a day or two with us, and see the spirit of our young nation.’

I said, ‘You invite us to come to Ghana, and to whom would we reply?’

The Ambassador answered, ‘To the president — the president is a very affable man.  We have arrangements to accommodate visitors.  We have hotels.  Hotel accommodations would be arranged right in Accra, and if possible, we would have opportunity for you to stay at the State House.

Brother Theodore Cannon reported, ‘The Ambassador has expressed interest in seeing the Pioneer Musuem, and he is interested in the pioneers.  He has seen the steel industry at Geneva.  He will go to the temple grounds for a tour and then to the capitol building to meet the Governor.’

President Moyle inquired about the Ambassador’s going out of his country to school, and the Ambassador explained that Sierre Leone is the center of education of West Africa, that it has very good schools.  He attended an English school.

The Ambassador’s experience in the development of twenty-two industries in Ghana was referred to by President Moyle who inquired about his association with the Lever Company.  Explanation was made that the Lever Company has branches in many places in the world and that the parent company is British with affiliations in the United States.

President Moyle also inquired about the basis of the law of Ghana.  The Ambassador explained that it is the English common law though local customs of the country also apply, and that they are rather complicated.  He explained that he had served as a lay justice, and that his function was to advise the court of the various customs of the country, especially with relation to the inheritance of land.

In reply to my question, the Ambassador explained that the president is the head of the government of the country, and that it has a unicameral parliament.  The president is the head of the state.  He also explained that President Nkrumha was educated in the United States at Lincoln University.  The country has a population of seven million and covers an area of 93,000 square miles.  The Ambassador added that the best time to go to Ghana is in May, June, and July, when the weather is ideal.  ‘It will be just like your climate here.’  He also said that Nigeria is 400 miles from Ghana, about a hour and a half by air.

I said, ‘If we accept the invitation to Nigeria, we will be your neighbor,’ to which the Ambassador responded, ‘You must not forget to come to Ghana.’  I said, ‘We will keep that in mind.’

The Ambassador then added, ‘Ghana has industry, and it has a culture that is gaining quite a lot.  The Catholics have established hospitals.’

In reply to my inquiry as to whether or not the Ambassador’s party has been to the Tabernacle, Theodore Cannon said the party was going to the Tabernacle immediately following their visit with us, then to the Governor’s office, back to the Tabernacle for an organ recital, and then to Welfare Square, and they will be leaving the city at 2:30 p.m.

I offered the use of automobiles if they are needed.  At this time, the Ambassador and his party said their farewells and departed.  (see letter following)  I was very interested in talking with these South African people.

Fri., 1 June 1962:

“Following the visit from the above named persons, I received a courtesy call from Judge Victor G. Heimstra of Pretoria, Union of South Africa.  He was introduced by Judge A. H. Ellett of the Third Judicial District Court of the State of Utah.

Judge Heimstra explained that the present policy and the practice in South Africa is to have the white and the non-white races living in separate residential areas.  Said that in the territories predominantly non-white, the government and the administration of laws are by local officers of the race, and under the jurisdiction of the general government.  Traditional tribal laws are administered.  The Indians are classified as non-white.  Their living conditions are much better than the African natives.  They are industrious and are tradesmen, and occupy a position advantageous for their well-being in the society.

Judge Heimstra said that the English and Afrikaans languages are taught in the schools, and the children are encouraged to have both languages.  Afrikaans is spoke as the official language.

Judge Heimstra expressed the opinion that it would be greatly to the advantage of the Church to have the missionaries speak Afrikaans.  It is fortunate that President and Sister Alldredge, having been born in South Africa, speak Afrikaans.

The principles of the Gospel were explained to the Judge by President Moyle.  The Judge said that he had come here ‘without an inkling about Mormonism.’  He knew about Salt Lake City and Brigham Young, but of the details of our religion he knew nothing.  The First Presidency autographed a copy of the Book of Mormon and presented it to Judge Heimstra.  A copy of the special brochure prepared under the direction of Elder Alvin R. Dyer was later sent to the Judge at the Hotel Utah.

This was the Judge’s first visit to America, and he said that he hopes to return and to bring his wife with him.  I told him of my visit to South Africa in 1954 with Sister McKay when we went to Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town.  I said that our doors are always open to him and expressed the hope that he would have a most favorable visit to this country, and especially that he would learn that the aims of the people of America are not as the Communists would have the world believe.  Judge Heimstra said:  ‘I am convinced that America is determined and able to be the leader of the people of the world.  They are certainly not shirking this great task.’

Sat., 7 July 1962:

“Following Brother Bennett’s departure, President Hugh B. Brown came in to my private office where we held a meeting on:

5)  The matter of notation on membership record of negro ancestry 

We considered the question as to whether or not the race of all members should be indicated on membership records.

Tues., 10 July 1962:

“Nigeria, Africa Mission

President Brown asked whether or not, in planning the trip to Nigeria in Africa for the middle of November, Brother LaMar Williams should take his wife.  I said the party to Nigeria should include President Nathan E. Tanner, President of the West European Mission; Brother Williams and his wife; and two couples, man and wife without children, and that they should open up the Nigerian Mission.  The two couples will be left after opening the mission and baptizing the people, and organizing them into branches.  Thereafter, the couples will officiate.  The couples are to be chosen by the First Presidency.

Sat., 14 July 1962:

Temple Work – May daughter of white mother and negro father go to the Temple?  The question of whether or not a daughter whose mother is white and father negro may go to the temple was raised.  I answered the question in the negative.”

August 30, 1962

President David 0. McKay

47 East South Temple

“Note:  Organization of Mission in Nigeria–Correspondence with President N. Eldon Tanner of the West European Mission regarding his trip to Nigeria to organize mission there.  (See following correspondence.)

August 30, 1962

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

It was my privilege to breakfast with you, Robert and his wife, Saturday morning in Glasgow and at that time you mentioned my going to Nigeria. May I suggest for your consideration the following:

1. That Brother Williams and I leave for Nigeria the latter part of November, and that we spend a few days analyzing the whole situation there.

2. If it is your desire that we go forward and baptize worthy candidates we should organize Mutual Improvement Associations, Relief Societies, Primaries and Sunday Schools which they can conduct without the Priesthood.

3. That we have two or three couples called as missionaries to go and live in those areas so that they can travel from place to place, probably covering two or three congregations each Sunday administering the Sacrament, baptizing and confirming converts and blessing children, etc.

4. That a General Supervisor or District President be called and set apart to preside over the whole area. It seems to me also to be advisable for us to make a survey of the situation there, to see whether or not we should help them build cheap buildings where they could hold schools as well as Church services. If the conditions are such as to warrant it, school teachers who could conduct church activities and act as missionaries, should be provided.

It rnay be that I am stepping out too rapidly in my thinking without sufficient information or understanding of the conditions there. I am just outlining for your consideration what could be a long range program.

If you have the time and feel inclined to do so, I should be very happy to have you outline for me what you have in mind, if it differs materially from what I have outlined above.

In any case, I hope it will be possible for me to discuss this briefly with you when I am at Conference in October, which you so kindly invited us to attend.

Again may I say how happy we were to be able to be with you at the organization of the Glasgow Stake and to see you feeling as well as you were. It was a great tribute to the people there in Scotland and a blessing to all of us to have you there.

Sara joins with love and greetings to you and Sister McKay .

Affectionately yours,

N. Eldon Tanner, President

West European Mission”

“September 4, 1962

President N. Eldon Tanner

West European Mission

White Hayes, Garden Close

Givons Groves, Leatherhead

Surrey, England

Dear President Tanner:

This will acknowledge the receipt of your kind letter of August 30, 1962, in which you make reference to your prospective visit to Nigeria

The program, as you have outlined it, will be followed as nearly as possible when the time comes to send missionaries over to organize that mission. Nothing will be done about it until after the November election.

I have spoken to Brother LaMar Williams, who has already been told that he will be the one to assist in that organization. Whether his wife will accompany him is doubtful, because his children will be in school.

Further details on this subject will be given after the October Conference.

With love and best wishes to you and Sister Tanner, in which Sister McKay joins, I remain

Affectionately yours,

David O. McKay


Thur., 11 Oct., 1962:

“Held our regular meeting of the First Presidency.

Nigeria, Africa — Opening up the Church in 

I said that the important matter before us this morning is what we are going to tell Brother Nathan Eldon Tanner, particularly regarding the Nigerian situation; that we have already decided to put Nigeria under the West European Mission, and have already decided that we shall send couples down there, married couples without children, so as not to subject children to the conditions there. Brother Tanner will go down accompanied by Brother LaMar Williams, and the two couples and receive the Nigerian people into the Church with a full knowledge that they will have every blessing of membership excepting the Priesthood. I stated that we have made no promise, and we shall state plainly to them that they are not to have the Priesthood. They will receive baptism and be entitled to the sacrament, and all the opportunities offered by the Auxiliaries; that the local people can preside in the Auxiliary associations, but the Elders who will be appointed there under the direction of the President of the West European Mission will take charge of sacrament meetings, administer the sacrament, and will exercise everything pertaining to the Priesthood.

I stated that one very important question is like the one which arose yesterday, when we had an application of a Mohammedan who is really a Coptic Christian and not a Mohammedan, who under the laws of Egypt is entitled to two wives. We have already considered that he could not visit his first wife personally but she has accepted his second wife whom he married according to the Egyptian law, but we think we had better not be connected with that in any way. I told Brother Tanner to leave his conversion and his baptism to the British Mission. Then followed the following conversation:

“I have not heard from President Tanner, have you?”

President Moyle said, “Not since we talked.”

President McKay: “I think our decision not to have him baptized here under President Woodbury was very wise, even though he himself, a very refined educated gentleman, will feel hurt to a degree. I do not know that he will but we shall leave that in the European Mission where it began and where it should continue.

“Now that same question of plural marriage will have to be faced within the month down in Nigeria.”

President Brown: “Are they polygamous?”

President McKay: “Some of them — those who can afford it. They are recognized by the government. “

President Moyle: “These leaders are polygamists.”

President Moyle: “One has been told that he cannot come into the Church and he reported to Brother Williams his willingness to put away one of his wives. Both are young. After a sleepless night he came to Brother Williams and said I have decided to put away one of my wives. Which one? The younger one. He will keep her three children and send her back to her father. Well now, I think that is not right.”

President Browns “That is the very thing our fathers refused to do; President Smith and the rest of them.”

President McKay:  “And the government approved. I think we will have to let them keep their wives and baptize them.”

President Moyle: I do not see any reason for anything else.

President Brown: That is the law of the land there.

President McKay: Now of course since they are negroes, they can never go through the temple, so that question will not come up. It will come out with this man, but I think we had better refuse to acknowledge his relationship in this life anyhow.

President Moyle: It will not come up as long as his first wife is living because she cannot go to the temple. And under the rule of the Church he cannot be sealed to his second wife until he is sealed to the first wife.

President McKay: In this question in Nigeria we will not ask this leader to turn that wife out and keep these children.

President Brown: It is morally wrong, wrong to the children. He is the father of these children.

President McKay: You know what effect this will have on these “Fundamentalists.” 

President Brown: They will make the most of it.

President McKay: We shall not give this Nigerian matter publicity. we shall help them and build their meeting houses, and we shall give them every consideration we give in other missions. They are building their houses now one hundred per cent. They will appreciate our assisting them so every branch will have a meetinghouse. Now we are all united on that attitude, are we not? We shall not take it up this morning, but Brother Tanner is going back and he will want to know just what to do.

President Moyle: There is one thing not clear in my mind about Dr. Sarofim. I do not believe that the second marriage took place under the laws of Egypt. I doubt very much that it is legal if it was performed under the laws of Switzerland.

President Brown: I think our record shows that we got a report, I do not know that it is correct.

President McKay: He cannot go back to Egypt. He has never taken his second wife back to Egypt. That makes his marriage under the English law illegal. I am so glad we did not approve of his being baptized here.

Statements were read from the correspondence as regards the legality of the second marriage to the effect that it was in Egypt and legal under the laws of Egypt. This was read from a letter of President Woodbury to President Tanner. President Moyle said there could not be a marriage take place in Switzerland under the law of Egypt. It would have to be in Egypt to have the marital status fixed under the Egyptian law. This marriage took place when he was banished from Egypt and after he escaped from Egypt and he had never been able to get back there since.

Dr. Sarofim is a lawyer by profession and he would naturally do things in a legal manner. From the letter was read the statement that a passport had been issued by the Egyptian government to the woman under her married name and Egypt was referred to as the land of the birth of the second wife. They have issued her a passport.

President Brown: We ought to check this and see if it is correct. I have some reservations. I do not know from what source we get that information. The letter of Devonshire and Company with relation to plural marriages and their status in England was read. President Moyle said the statement is made on the assumption that the marriages were performed in Egypt. President McKay said now we need to have confirmed the statement that he married his second wife in Egypt.

President Moyle: She has an Egyptian passport and that would be prima facie evidence of it at least, and it may be conclusive.

President McKay: We shall ask President Tanner to investigate that and find out because we have confirmed his suggestion that we do not baptize him here, that he go back and be baptized.

President Brown: Dr. Sarofim was at the theatre and he said he would be leaving for London. He left on the midnight plane.

President Moyle: Brother Woodbury took him to the airport during the performance. He did not see it all.

President McKay: That’s all right. So far we are cleared.

President Moyle: On this Nigerian matter, if these figures are right, if we are going to baptize 4, 000 people, the question I have in my mind is how long would it take for one couple to get around and administer the sacrament to them.

President McKay: We shall have two couples and President Tanner

and Brother Williams. Brother Williams will not take his wife or children.

President Brown: There will be Brother Williams and two couples besides Brother Williams.

President Moyle: Have we picked those couples ?

President McKay: No, not yet. We will instruct President Tanner and they will come down in November and we want to be clear on this question.

President Moyle: I don’t know anything else to do, but we have got to do it with our eyes open as to the risk we are running. Every man becomes to us a potential threat in the future. They will make a fuss that will be world-wide. I am not opposed to it. I see the potential danger that can arise in the future.

President McKay: Let us face it. Just as soon as these branches are organized the leaders will want to come here to Conference. They are entitled to a trip here just as the presidents from England are.

President Moyle: But they will have none of the local men appointed branch presidents. They will be only heads of auxiliary organizations. If you bring the Relief Society you will have to bring the Relief Society sisters here. We have not yet done that in any other than stakes. We have brought no Relief Society sisters from the missions to conference.

President McKay: I think we shall be well to guard against that possibility. Already there has been an expressed desire to have leaders come over.

President Brown: We could not pay their fare. There is no one qualified to receive the fare over and back. If there are some who can do it on their own, that is their business.

President Moyle: If you have a concentration there. I do not know how concentrated they are. You can have 4,000 members of the Church conceivably.

President McKay: We shall have double that number as soon as you baptize them. I think it will be well for Brother Tanner and Brother Williams to go to the heads of the Nigerian nation and tell them what we are doing.

President Moyle: I do too, and then you are going to be confronted sooner or later with the understanding of what you are going to do about giving them a stake.

President Brown: You cannot do that without importing all the officers. That is something we will have to meet when we get to it. It will be at least a year.

President Moyle: With 8,000 people concentrated, they will know what the organization of the Church is.

President McKay: And they have been using the name of the Church for over two years and asking for baptism to be made legal and to be properly baptized. They use the right term, but I do not see anything else to do. Make them heads of auxiliaries and throw the responsibility locally upon them and have these men who will be sent spend two and one-half years down there and administer the sacrament and conduct the sacrament meetings. Bless them and baptize their children.

President Moyle: I am wondering, I am just thinking out loud. Maybe they ought to be advised from the very beginning that it would not be possible for us to set up a regular Church organization now or in the foreseeable future, and if the question of organizing a stake were to arise, we could refer back to the initial instructions.

President Brown: If they are forewarned.

President Moyle: I don’t see how we could ever organize wards and stakes down there. When you have a concentration of 400 to 500 people in branches or 4000 to 8000 people within a stake area and they are going to learn very rapidly what our Church organization is and we have stakes all around them in Europe. I think they should be forewarned about this as well as about priesthood unless we see our way clear to have such an organization within a year or so. The organization is a problem as well as the priesthood.

It is almost inconceivable to carry on the work of a stake without the priesthood.

President McKay: Especially the Aaronic Priesthood. Deacons and teachers. If we could confer the Aaronic Priesthood on them, it would be no clearer. The question was asked as to what effect this will have on the missionary work in South Africa. They do not want it in Johannesburg.

President Moyle: We just could not do that in South Africa what we are doing in Nigeria.

President Brown: And that is not our fault. It is the government’s fault. The government in South Africa would not permit us to do it.

President McKay: We have taken one step and it will be announced to the world next Tuesday and this will be associated with if it is right for Brother Tanner of the West European Mission and Brother Williams and anyone else of our elders and their wives to carry the Church organization to the negroes. We have got to look forward and bring the mission organization to thousands of negroes. There will be opposition when they go to the government and it depends largely upon the attitude of the government officials and what the attitude of the negroes will be. Now we will have a man who is very wise and he is in touch with the English government officials when Nigeria was in the British government. Most of these negroes speak English. We shall have no difficulty in learning the language. We shall help them build their meetinghouses and these meetinghouses will soon be used as school houses in helping the children to read. When the children join the Church, the next thing will be to have them learn to read. One boy has been driven away from home and he was told that if he joined the Mormons, he will be driven away from home. The last we heard about him was he was sleeping out in the country and he was drawn to a group who called themselves Mormons. There will be hundreds of them. They will be meeting in Sunday School and the Mutual and Primary within a few months. They are going to read and we will have to have some elementary schools in the meetinghouses.

President Brown: It is a big movement. It is history making.

President McKay: If we could just give them the Aaronic Priesthood. I suppose there is no way to differentiate. The Lord will have to do it. The Lord did that after the priesthood was taken away from the ancient prophets. That law was added as a school master to bring them to Christ. And that is all they had for hundreds of years.

President Brown: It was the Aaronic Priesthood?

President McKay: The Aaronic Priesthood.

President Brown: There seems to be a differentiation somewhat. I am wondering whether this prohibition against their having the priesthood was intended to include both. We rely mostly on that paragraph in Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. I secretly hoped that the time would come when we could give them the Aaronic Priesthood.

Here is one of the saddest things in the policy of the Church. In years past we have baptized the negro. They have been faithful and just as faithful as any human beings can be and their children have attended Sunday School and Primary and they have associated with our children in Primary. We saw one of them at our socials, a member of the Primary school, who came there before the First Presidency and the Twelve. Do you remember?

President Moyle: Yes.

President McKay: In a year or so that child will be associated with other members of the Primary Association. The male part, and the boys will be recommended to the bishop to receive the priesthood and on Friday that negro boy met with others in the Primary Association and Sunday evening the other boys went with the Primary class and were put on the stand and this boy sat down with his mother and he could not be there with the other boys to be recommended. Now that is a tragedy.

President Moyle: That’s where the rub comes. That is what pulls at the heart strings of fathers and mothers.

President McKay: I think the Lord is not pleased with it.

President Moyle: Being they are his children and he has opened the door for them to go into the Celestial Kingdom through baptism, that’s pretty hard treatment for the children.

President McKay: Only the Lord can change it, but that is what we are facing, Brethren, and we have gone so far now that we shall have to go down to Nigeria and baptize these people.

President Brown: But they ought to go first to the government officials.

President McKay: That is what I am presenting to you this morning. That is the right thing to do.

President Moyle: I think so.

President McKay: If they want to take the stand that they will not admit us, we shall thank the Lord and say that is all right. We shall receive that, and it will be their responsibility.

President Moyle: We will go as far as the Lord will let us.

9:50 – 2:25 p. m. 

We concluded our meeting of the First Presidency at 9:50 a. m., and then held the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the office of the First Presidency. The Salt Lake Temple is still in a condition which prohibits us from meeting there.

At Council Meeting today, we discussed the case of Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, an Egyptian who has requested baptism. It was agreed by all present that this is a matter that should be handled in the British Mission, and that he should not be admitted into the Church by baptism here inasmuch as he has two wives, even though they were both married under Egyptian law (see Council Minutes of this day for details).

Also discussed the Nigerian situation and the plea of 4 000 negroes in that country who have taken upon themselves the title of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see Council minutes of this day for details).”

Fri., 12 Oct., 1962:

“Although the office is closed today for Columbus Day Holiday, I came to the office to keep scheduled appointments.

7:45 a. m.

Brother Nathan Eldon Tanner came in, and I talked with him about our opening up missionary work in Nigeria, Africa. Elder Tanner will leave in November for Nigeria, and I suggested that he take with him Brother LaMar Williams (his wife is not to accompany him, but stay home with their children), and two missionary couples who do not have children.

I told Elder Tanner that when he and Brother Williams arrive in Nigeria, they should call upon the government officials the first thing, and explain to them the purpose of the Church in Nigeria. After that, if they have government approval, they may proceed to meet with the people and have the missionaries baptize them.

Thur., 18 Oct., 1962:

10:00 – 12: 30 p. m.

Meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve was held in the office of the First Presidency.

Negroes — Baptism of 

At this meeting, Elder Howard W. Hunter reported that recently a negro was baptized in the Great Lakes Mission, he being the husband of an Hawaiian woman who accepted the gospel when presented by the missionaries. This man was informed prior to baptism that he could not hold the priesthood, and had a full understanding of what the situation would be. Now it appears that this man’s father, who is a Pentecostal minister and has a congregation, has become interested in the gospel. The missionaries have not been to see him, although they have been asked to do so, and the mission president wants direction. The negro’s son, who is now a member of the Church, says his father wants to join the Church and bring in his whole congregation of colored folks.

I said that Elder N. Eldon Tanner, President of the European Mission, is arranging to go to Nigeria following the November election, and that he will be accompanied by LaMar Williams; that Brother Williams’ wife will not go with them; that, however, two other good brethren will be selected to go, taking their wives to assist in opening the work there; that four thousand of those negro people in Nigeria are asking for baptism. Elder Tanner has been requested to go to the rulers of Nigeria when he arrives there, and tell them exactly what we intend to do, and if the rulers look upon the project with favor we may have a whole nation in that country joining the Church. However, they have a right to be baptized if they are thoroughly converted, and want to come into the Church, although they do not have the right to the Priesthood and they understand that this is the case. I said the same thing applies to these negro people in the Great Lakes Mission.

We felt that it was best that nothing be done about the matter until after the November election for the reason that if we were to baptize a considerable number of negro people at this time, certain politicians might take the view that it was done to influence the negro vote in favor of George Romney in his candidacy for Governor of Michigan.”

Wed., 31 Oct., 1962:

“8:45 – 10:30 a. m. Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency. Among important official Church matters taken up were the following:

(1) Nigeria — Missionaries to 

I discussed the suggestion of Brother LaMar Williams to send a Brother and Sister Goodrich with him to Nigeria. I sent for Brother Williams to come into the meeting. I commented upon the fact that the Nigerians, according to their law, may marry in polygamy, and said that we shall leave that matter to their government, but these people, when they become members of the Church, may not enter into polygamy.

When Brother Williams came into the meeting, he said that President Tanner of the West European Mission wants him to leave Salt Lake City on November 27, and that President Tanner plans to go back to London by January 1. He will leave there about December 14 and go back to London. He in planning to spend two weeks in Nigeria. I asked Brother Williams what he knows about the missionary couples who have been recommended and he said he does not know Brother and Sister Goodrich personally, but that he and Brother Hinckley carefully went over recommendations of missionary couples regularly recommended and singled out Brother and Sister Goodrich for consideration. Other than this, Brother Williams said he had found no one.

President Moyle recalled a missionary couple who had been considered for a full-time missionary service — a Brother and Sister Erbin Beach. He is age 30. His wife is Norma Lavell Rigby Beach, age 26. Information from the missionary applications of this couple was reviewed.

I stated that I think it would be all right to call them for six months, and then let them come home or have the mission extended if they wish. I instructed Brother Williams to meet these couples (Brother and Sister Goodrich and Brother and Sister Beach) and ask them if they will go down to Nigeria for six months with him. I stated that the mission will be called the Nigerian Mission, and it will be conducted under direction of the West European Mission President. I asked Brother Williams to report back to me, and that thereafter consideration would be given to issuing the calls. I then said to Brother Williams, “You have been appointed bv the First Presidency to go down and to open up this mission with two missionary couples. Ask these couples if they will go with you for that purpose for six months, if thev are called by the First Presidency.”

Brother Williams repeating said, “I shall find out if they will accept a call there to the Nigerian Mission from the First Presidency.”

Brother Williams then said, “We run into the polygamy situation. There are many who want to come into the Church but they do not want to lose their families and their wives.” I said that we would give him instructions on that later.

Thurs., 10 Jan. 1963:

Nigeria – Missionary Work in

Elder Mark E. Petersen asked if he had any responsibility as President of the West European Mission in looking after the situation in Nigeria.  I told him that the mission in Nigeria would be under his direction; that it will not be made an independent mission, but part of the West European Mission, and Brother Petersen, as President of the West European Mission, should keep in close touch with it.  I suggested that Brother Petersen get a detailed report from Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner regarding it.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Nigeria – Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner’s trip to

In my private office, I held a meeting with Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner who gave an excellent, detailed report of his visit to Nigeria.

He told of his meeting with Government officials regarding the opening of missionary work among the Nigerian people; of the several meetings he held with groups of people who are interested in the Church; of their living conditions, etc.

Brother Tanner reported that at a meeting held at Aba, Nigeria, on Sunday, December 30, 1962, he offered a special prayer in which he blessed the land and the governments and the people.  Said that he dedicated Nigeria for missionary work to be conducted as directed by the Lord through his Prophet.

Elder Tanner stated that if a mission is to be established, it is his opinion that they should do no proselyting; but that they do a very careful job of screening before baptism.  Brother Tanner submitted a copy of the form he filled out in applying to the government for a mission in Nigeria.  (see following report of this conference by Elder Tanner.)

After listening to Elder Tanner’s report, I was deeply impressed that it was most fortunate that I had appointed Elder Tanner to go to Nigeria to look into the opening of the work there.  I do not know of another man who could have met the conditions so favorably and intelligently as Brother Tanner did.  He was inspired to meet the government leaders in Nigeria and accomplished a very fine mission.

Thursday, January 10, 1963


TO: Clare Middlemiss DATE: January 15, 1963

FROM: N. Eldon Tanner

RE: Nigerian Report

Dear Clare:

Last Thursday morning I discussed with President McKay the Nigerian question.  Then again on Friday morning Brother Mark E. Petersen, Brother LaMar Williams and I discussed it further with him.

In as much as I am giving President McKay a more or less detailed written report, you might wish to take from that whatever you would like to go in his journal.


N. Eldon Tanner

Thursday, January 10, 1963

January 16, 1963

President David O. McKay


Dear President McKay:

Following your instructions, I left London, England on December 20 and arrived in Lagos that evening to make a study of the situation regarding the Nigerians who have adopted the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and who have applied for baptism.  (see pages 4, 5, 6 for conclusions)

I was not able to see the American Ambassador on account of his being out of town for two weeks.  I immediately got in touch with the Canadian High Commissioner who proved to be very helpful to me.

On December 25, 1962, I wrote you the following letter:

Dear President McKay:

‘Since arriving here in Lagos I have seen the Canadian High Commissioner, The Principal Immigration Officer Mr. N.J. Obiora, his assistant Mr. Price, and have talked on the telephone to the Office of the American Embassy and to the Office of the Administrator General as well as having seen the Nigerian High Commissioner in London before leaving.  I am leaving now to see the Governor and/or Premier of the Eastern Region in Enugu and some of the leaders of the interested congregations in Port Harcourt, Aba and in the Opobo District.

Our problem is to obtain permission to establish a mission and employ missionaries here in Nigeria.  This requires the approval of the District and Federal Authorities.  In order for them to give this request consideration, it was necessary for me to fill out an application as per the attached which contains the questions and the answers I gave.

I have been advised that by securing the approval and support of the Government in Enugu, early consideration will be given by the Federal Authorities.  It is for this purpose that I am proceeding now to Enugu with an introduction from the Canadian High Commissioner.

It was not possible for me to see the Federal Administrator General as he is away and will not return until Jan. 8th.  If I feel it advisable to remain till then to see him I shall do so, but at the moment I feel that if I can get the support of the Premier of Enugu all will go well.

In any event it will probably take several weeks before our request is granted.  I shall keep you advised of progress made.’


/s/ N. Eldon Tanner

Following that, I saw Premier Dr. Okpara of Eastern Nigeria who had been to Alberta to study the oil and gas regulations and the whole gas situation.  As a result of this, he seemed anxious to see me and was very helpful.

On January 2, following my meeting with the Premier, I returned to Lagos and talked to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of International Affairs regarding our application for a permit to send missionaries into Nigeria.  He told me it would take them three weeks to deal with the application.  He advised me that he felt there would be no problem in connection with the granting of the permit.

Nigeria is a Federation with a central Government located in Lagos which is situated in, but separate from, the Western Region.  The country is divided into three regions known as the Northern, Western and Eastern Regions with a local government in each.  The country gained its independence in 1960 and is now a part of the British Commonwealth.

The Governors, Premiers and members of the Governments are Nigerians.  The country, though very productive, is undeveloped and the Governments and people are all conscious of this and are very anxious to have the necessary capital and know how imported to assist them in the establishment of industries, secondary and technical schools, and commercial developments of all kinds.

The insurrection caused by the Action Group in Western Nigeria resulted in the Federal Government declaring a state of emergency and the suspension of the Government of Western Nigeria which lasted until December 31, 1962.  A committee was called by the Federal Government to make an investigation into the whole problem and made a report which was the basis of settlement December 31, 1962.  The Premier of Western Nigeria was reinstated, fourteen of his ministers were released and all seems to be quiet on the Western front.

In Nigeria there are three main languages, though in the Northern District they speak two main languages and in Western three and Eastern three; while in the various provinces 40 to 50 different languages are spoken.  Our driver spoke three Nigerian languages plus English.  Among the people who are interested in the Church and are members of the several groups, probably 5% to 10% can understand and speak English.  Interpreters were necessary wherever we held meetings.

It is my feeling that the missionaries should not try to learn the language of the area in which they labor, but rather encourage and teach the young people to learn English.

The leaders in the areas who call themselves L.D.S. and those assisting them seem to be fairly well educated, well acquainted with the Gospel principles of the Church and very devoted to the cause.

In Eastern Nigeria I met with the four leaders of the four larger districts where several well recognized groups are situated under the supervision of each leader.  They have acquired in varying degrees our Church Standard Words, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Sunday School lesson manuals, ‘The Improvement Era’ etc., which they have read, studied and used in their teaching.

The members or followers whom I met seem to be convinced that the Church is the true Church, that Joseph Smith saw and talked with God and His son Jesus Christ, and believe that we have a Prophet at the head of the Church today and are trying to live as they understand the principles of the Gospel as taught by the L.D.S. Church.

Living conditions in the country generally are very primitive.  Each family has a small piece of land but not sufficient on which to produce a living.  The people dress very poorly and have very few clothes.  It is common to see at least half of the children up to 8 or 10 years of age playing in the nude and most of the people are barefoot and often you see women uncovered above the waist.  They live in little mud shacks and eat yams, beans, rice, bananas, etc.  Some of the larger towns have living conditions which vary from those of the well-to-do to the very, very poor and beggars in certain areas.  It seems that the majority of the people in the areas where we were traveling buy and sell baskets full of produce of all kinds from which they make a monthly profit or earnings of $20.00 to $30.00 and more according to their ability.  It is common to see the people lined for miles along the highway headed to or from the market, most of them walking with loads on their heads.  Others have bicycles which they use in place of beasts of burden.  We saw no domesticated animals of any kind except a few goats and dogs.

Among the wealthier people and those in Government service, there are thousands of cars in the larger centers and these people live in very good homes with many of the modern conveniences.  The great majority of those who live in good homes and drive cars and dress well are those in Government and Government services, those working for industry, those who are employed in other commercial enterprises as well as some of those who are large land owners.  The English people provided good homes and cars for their representatives in government and industry and commercial enterprises all of which were taken over the Nigerians as they replaced the British.

The most common means of transportation is by foot, bicycle, public bus, train, lambrettas, taxis and automobiles, in the order listed.  Missionaries would require cars, lambrettas or bicycles.  It would be difficult for missionaries to rent suitable living quarters except in the larger centers and very difficult, if possible, in villages.  Building in a medium sized or larger center might be desirable.

As a point of interest, I should report that I held three meetings on Sunday December 30.  One meeting was at Aba with 78 members, 41 adults and 37 youth, in attendance.  The meeting was conducted by a Mr. Charles Agu.  Another meeting was held in Ibesit with 76 in attendance, 52 adults and 44 youth, and this meeting was conducted by Udo-Ete.  The third meeting was in Ikot Nsung with 110 in attendance, 57 adults and 53 youth.  This meeting was conducted by Honesty John Ekong.  The leaders and their associates are mostly well educated and speak good English.  The leaders surely have a good understanding of the Principles of the Gospel, the need for the restoration and how the Gospel was restored, and know that we have a prophet at the head of our Church today.  The meetings were very well conducted, those who prayed offered lovely prayers and all showed a keen interest.

At the meeting in Aba, I offered a special prayer in which I blessed the land and the governments and the people.  I dedicated Nigeria for missionary work to be conducted as directed by the Lord through his Prophet.  This will make the Gospel available to those who are now ready and those who are preparing themselves for baptism.

On Monday December 31, I met Mr. A. Dick Obot of Uyo who claims he has 75 different groups in his area under his supervision, and that he has between four and five thousand members of his Church.  He claims that he has been teaching them Mormon doctrine and principles for the last five years and that they keep the Word of Wisdom and are prepared to live the teachings of the gospel and, therefore, are ready for baptism.  He recognizes his position as far as the Priesthood is concerned, and that the missionary would actually be the president of the district and be the presiding authority in his district.  He realizes that all ordinances of the Gospel must be administered by the Elder.

The Catholic Church has many churches and schools scattered throughout the country.  Some other churches also have churches and schools established.  The Government does not make necessary primary and secondary schools available but is prepared to subsidize any approved schools and encourage the establishment of them.  Schools, churches, hospitals and leadership in all fields of endeavor are badly needed.

If a mission is established, it is my opinion that they should do no proselyting; but that they do a very careful job of screening before baptism.  They should spend their full time in organizing and directing the activities of the members and in teaching and training them in the principles and doctrines of the Church and in better living.

Problems compared with other missions:

1)  In English speaking missions where there are established stakes, wards and branches, the fellowshipping is still a problem.

2)  In English speaking missions such as in the British Isles, the training of leadership and finding conscientious Priesthood holders, the establishment of all real problems which take time to solve.

3)  In language missions the problems mentioned above are magnified even though our missionaries learn the language of the country in which they labor.

4)  In Nigeria, which is a language mission, all of the problems will be greatly exaggerated because:

a.  The people are not educated.

b.  The missionaries should not be required to learn the language of the area

in which they work, and will need interpreters.

c.  The people can hold no Priesthood.

d.  Poverty emphasizes the importance of material things which they lack.

I took the time to make it abundantly clear to the leaders and their associates whom I met that:

1)  The Church was not prepared to come in and build schools or hospitals, but as conditions justify the Church would be prepared to assist liberally in the building of suitable meeting houses.

2)  The Nigerians cannot hold the Priesthood.

3)  The Elders would be the presidents of the districts and/or branches under whom we could have district and group leaders and the auxiliary organizations could and would be organized with Nigerians as presidents and superintendents.

4)  All ordinances such as baptisms, confirmations, blessings of babies, administrations and sacrament services would have to be administered by the Elders.

At the meeting with President McKay, Elder Mark E. Petersen, Brother LaMar Williams and myself, President McKay advised us that the missionary work in Nigeria would be under the direction of the President of the West European Mission, that Nigeria would not be called a mission; but that the work would be under the direction and supervision of Brother LaMar Williams who will act as a Supervising Elder.

I was instructed by President McKay to make application for 20 missionaries as soon as we had received a permit to do missionary work in Nigeria so that the quota could be raised and the missionaries called as they are required.  Brother Williams and the missionaries who have been called will leave for Nigeria as soon as their visas are obtained.

In my discussion with these brethren, I emphasized the importance of Brother Williams making it clear to all Nigerians concerned the extent of their authority, and the relationship to the missionaries and himself so that there can be no misunderstanding or ill feelings which might result in some kind of insurrection.  It is only natural that as these youth grow into young manhood that they will resent having to have white men with the Priesthood always presiding while they are not given this opportunity.  Every precaution should be taken, therefore, to see that the youth who will be growing up in the Church understand their position as far as the Priesthood is concerned.  Also, that they be made to realize that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, and that greater blessings are theirs at present in this Church than in any other and that some time here or hereafter, if they are faithful, they will be permitted to hold the Priesthood.  They should be permitted and encouraged to participate in all Church activities possible.

I deeply appreciate your confidence in giving me this very responsible assignment.  I have continuously prayed for guidance and do hope that this report is acceptable.

Faithfully yours,

N. Eldon Tanner


Thursday, January 10, 1963


24th December 1962

The Permanent Secretary

Ministry of Internal Affairs


Dear Sir,

I am enclosing herewith 5 copies of application for permission for Religious Mission to be established in Nigeria.  I have discussed this with the Principal Immigration Officer, Mr. Obiora, and tried to contact you while I was in Nigeria.  I learned you were away for a few days and I am very sorry that I missed you.  I am also enclosing a booklet about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which outlines briefly the activities of the Church, and which I hope you will find interesting.  Your kind attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.

We shall be glad to supply any further information which you might require.

Would you kindly reply to 47 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah U.S.A.

Yours faithfully,

/s/ N. Eldon Tanner”

Fri., 11 Jan. 1963:

9:00 a.m.

Went over to the office, and went directly into the meeting of the Budget Committee.

10:00 – 12:00 noon

Elder Mark E. Petersen came into the office to say good-bye and to report that he is leaving Monday for Europe to take over his presidency of the West European Mission.  (See Diary of December 26, 1962 for notice of Elder Petersen’s calling)  We also talked about his association with the Deseret News.

While Brother Petersen was in my office, Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner and Brother LaMar Williams came in to discuss matters pertaining to missionary work in Nigeria.

I advised them that the missionary work in Nigeria would be under the direction of Elder Petersen who is now President of the West European Mission.  I said that Nigeria would not be called a mission; but that the work would be under the direction and supervision of Brother LaMar Williams who will act as a Supervising Elder.

(see report by Elder Tanner under date of January 10, 1963.)

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Signed scores of letters prepared under direction of my secretary.

1:10 p.m.

Left for home.

Nigeria – Announcement of Missionary work in

Newspapers carried announcement of the opening up of missionary work in Nigeria.  (see following newspaper clipping)

Friday, January 11, 1963


New territory for missionary work in the world-wide program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was announced Friday by President David O. McKay.

Missionaries will be sent to Nigeria in West-Central Africa in response to requests from people in that country to learn more about Church doctrine.

President McKay said a group of missionaries will be sent as soon as visas are available.  They will be under the direction of the West European Mission, headed by Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve, who is scheduled to leave with Mrs. Petersen for mission headquarters at Leatherhead, London, England, on Jan. 14.

Elder Petersen succeeds Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner of the Council of the Twelve, who visited Nigeria before returning to Salt Lake City following his release.

First missionaries called to labor in Nigeria include Elder LaMar S. Williams of the 28th Ward, Riverside Stake, who will act as presiding elder:  Elder and Mrs. Urban Gail Bench of Valley View Second Ward, and Elder and Mrs. Forrest O. Goodrich of Tridell, Uintah County.

Elder Williams’ wife, Mrs. Nyal Bowen Williams, and their seven children may leave for Nigeria at a later date.

The Church has had missionaries in South Africa for many years, with headquarters at Johannesburg, Transvaal.  There are now 19 branches in the South African Mission.

Deseret News – Friday, January 11, 1963

Friday, January 11, 1963


Preparations are being made to open a new missionary program in the West-Central African country of Nigeria.

President David O. McKay announced the opening of the new mission territory, explaining that it would be a part of the West European Mission and not a separate mission.

The decision to open Nigeria to missionary work was made in response to requests from people in that country to learn more about Church doctrine.  Church literature was mailed to those making such requests and interest in the Church increased.

President McKay said missionary work will be opened with five missionaries, headed by Elder La Mar S. Williams from the 28th Ward in Riverside Stake in Salt Lake City, who will be presiding elder.  These missionaries will be under the direction of Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve, who left Monday for headquarters of the West European Mission in Leatherhead near London, England.

Other missionaries who will accompany Elder Williams to Nigeria include Elder and Mrs. Urban Gail Bench of Valley View Second Ward and Elder and Mrs. Forrest O. Goodrich of Tridell, Utah.

Elder Williams expects his wife and children to come.  They will go to London first to receive instructions from Elder Petersen before going to Africa.

Elder Williams expects his wife and seven children to go to Nigeria as soon as headquarters are established there.

Nigeria will be the second African area opened to missionaries.  The Church has had missionaries in the Union of South Africa for many years.  There are 19 branches active in the South African Mission.

Deseret News – Church Section

Saturday, January 19, 1963″

Thurs., 7 Feb. 1963:

“10:00 – 1:30 p.m.

“Was engaged in Council Meeting.  We had a very good meeting!  Among matters discussed were:

3)  Negroes — marriage with whites – Racial Intermarriage Statute.

Elder Evans reported that State Senator Holman of Panguitch had called on him last night and reported regarding a bill before the Legislature that would void or withdraw from the statutes the statute which prevents racial intermarriage, including marriage of whites with negroes.  This bill had gone to a second reading and he thought it might go to a third reading today.  In his own feelings he said he was opposed to repealing this statute and wanted instruction.

Elder Lee said that Reed Bullen had come in to see him about this same matter and said that he had talked with me about some of these problems.  Brother Bullen mentioned that according to the rules of Senate they could not kill a bill in committee but they could kill it in the House, and that is what they are attempted to do; to kill it so that it wouldn’t come out for open discussion.

Elder Gordon Hinckley mentioned, in this connection, the Utah statute which prohibits the marriage of Caucasians and orientals, and that some of our people are being so married; that it is not uncommon for a returned missionary to marry a ‘nisei’ girl, and that they have to leave Utah to do so.

I said that we are facing a question of permitting the marriage of negroes with whites, and that we had better put up with a little inconvenience regarding inter-racial marriage to avoid greater troubles.

Fri., 8 Mar. 1963:

The second matter is a letter from N. Eldon Tanner who says he has learned that the reason visas for missionaries to Nigeria are being held up is that the Nigerian government is not sure that the Church is financially reliable and will provide return for missionaries if they become stranded in Nigeria; that the Nigerian government expects a deposit of one thousand pounds by the Church in Nigeria as a guarantee that the missionaries will return.

I said no deposit will be made in Nigeria.  President Moyle, who talked with President Petersen by telephone over the conference system, informed Brother Petersen of my statement, and suggested that arrangements be made in London with the highest officers of Barclay’s Bank to have a deposit made in London for the assurance of the Nigerian government and that the conference be with the highest officers despite the local London branch bank manager’s word that the bank has never done this, and despite his firm refusal to accept a deposit in his bank for this purpose.  Barclay’s has a bank in Nigeria.  President Moyle suggested that Brother Petersen ask Brother Stanley Bird, treasurer of the building committee in London, Sir Donald Kayberry, Sir Thomas Bennett and Lady Reading, if necessary, to support him in arranging with Barclay’s for the deposit to be made in London.  He suggested also that Brother Petersen talk with Mr. Macfadden or his successor at the First National City Bank of New York in London.  President Moyle explained that President Petersen can become acquainted with Sir Donald Kayberry through Stanley Bird.

Brother Petersen said he would report to the First Presidency on both matters.  President Moyle asked Brother Petersen to inform President Hanks and President Burton of the General Authorities in the mission fields in Europe to remain and not to attend April Conference.

I expressed the belief that one of the Nigerian churches, knowing of the interest of 4,000 people to become Latter-day Saints, are opposing the missionaries coming in.

Cuban and Puerto Rican Converts and Possibility of Negro Blood — Prospects of Priesthood

The letter of President George H. Mortimer of New Jersey Stake said the conversion of Cuban and Puerto Rican families, though they show no evidence of negro blood, raised the question as to whether or not they may receive the Priesthood when the time comes that they may be recommended.  He said it is known that there is a widespread dissemination of colored blood among Cubans and Puerto Ricans.

I said that in the absence of clear, obvious evidence, the presumption that the converts have negro blood should not prevail and the burden should not be put upon them to prove that they do not have negro blood.  There being unity of opinion, direction was given that the letter be answered accordingly.

Tues., 12 Mar. 1963:

“Nigeria – Appointment of Dr. Quinn McKay

I read to the Brethren a press announcement that Dr. Quinn McKay is appointed to go to Nigeria to give direction at the University there.  At the present time, Dr. McKay is director of a Master of Business Administration program at the Brigham Young University, and he will leave June 15, after receiving final clearance from the University of Pittsburgh.  (see newspaper clipping following.)

Nigeria – Guarantee Required by Government

President Moyle reported that he had talked with Leland B. Flint about making a contact with the First National City Bank in New York about the guarantee required by the Nigerian government.  Brother Flint said he would also talk with Mr. Millikan of Kennecott Copper Company in New York which has workings in Nigeria.  Brother Flint is sure that if the bank cannot make provision that the Kennecott Copper can.  I asked that President N. Eldon Tanner be informed as to what can be worked out.  President Moyle said that he would do so as soon as he has word from Brother Flint.  Brother Williams will also be informed.


Brother Mark E. Petersen reported, also, that he and Brother Bird had conferred with the First National City Bank officers about a guarantee required by the Nigerian government and that everything is going to work out all right.

President Moyle informed President Petersen that Leland Flint is working with the National City Bank officers in New York and also the Kennecott Company officers there, who have workings in Nigeria and between them the matter will be taken care of. 

Tuesday, March 12, 1963

Deseret News and Telegram

Monday, March 11, 1963



A Brigham Young University instructor is awaiting final approval before leaving Provo to serve as an administrator at the University of the North in Zaria, Nigeria.

Dr. Quinn G. McKay, director of the Master of Business Administration Program at BYU, and his family will leave the U.S. June 15 after obtaining final clearance from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. McKay will then join a five-man University of Pittsburgh-sponsored educational team in expanding the two-year Nigerian college into a four-year university.

Duties Outlined

His duties will consist of teaching, designing the university curriculum and expanding the administrative development program for business people and government officials.

Dr. McKay explained that although the northern region of Nigeria contains nearly two-thirds of the total population, it supplies only two per cent of the federal civil servants.

He said he would also do research, and gather material for a book he is writing on developing administrators in underdeveloped countries.  An article outlining his philosophy of developing native administrators in underdeveloped nations entitled ‘More Mileage From Foreign Aid’ was featured in a recent issue of the Advanced Management Office Executive magazine.

Served As Adviser

Prior to being named to head the MBA program at BYU, Dr. McKay served as an adviser to a Ford Foundation project at the University of Rangoon in Burma.  He was graduated from BYU in 1954 and received his master’s and doctor’s degrees in business administration from Harvard University.

His wife is the former Shirley Frame and they have three children:  David, 2, Cathy, 4, and Shirlene, 6.”

Wed., 20 Mar. 1963:

“Requirements of Nigerian Officials

By appointment, Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner came into the meeting.  He read a letter which stated the following conditions for granting visas to missionaries being admitted into Nigeria:  1) The body must be one that practices cooperation with other Christian bodies; 2) It must be one that is recommended by the Christian Council of Nigeria or by overseas bodies already recognized in Nigeria; 3) It must be one whose work will be welcomed by the regional authorities; 4) It must be adequately financed.

President Tanner read briefly from an excerpt of the pamphlet ‘Mormonism and the Negro’ by John J. Stewart, which stated that negroes may become members of the Church, may receive patriarchal blessings, may enter the Temple for vicarious work for the dead, but may not receive other Temple ordinances and may not hold the Priesthood.

President Tanner explained that Elder LaMar Williams suggested that he be authorized to get a tourist’s visa and go in and clear these matters up, but he was informed that this is a matter which the First Presidency must direct.

President Tanner said the action should be taken as soon as possible.  He referred to an address delivered by Elder Mark E. Petersen at the BYU, which bluntly stated the Church’s position on the negro question, and he expressed the opinion that it would not be wise for Brother Petersen to go to Nigeria.

I said that I think Brother Tanner should follow through with this until it is settled.  He should go down and take Brother Williams and other missionaries and start them out as planned.  Brother Tanner explained that the Nigerian government will not let Brother Williams and the other missionaries in as missionaries, and that he does not know how long it will take to get this cleared up.

Brother Tanner reviewed the requirements of the Nigerian Government.  I said Brother Tanner is the only man in the Church who can do it, but things would be left as they are until after Conference.  I asked Brother Tanner to have Brother Williams continue his efforts to get a visa so he can go with Brother Tanner.”

Fri., 3 May 1963:

“8:45 to 10:30 a.m.

Meetings of the First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric were held.

Among many other items, we considered:

2)  Negroes – Samoan Membership Records with Indication of Negroid Blood

Bishop Vandenberg reported having received a letter from Elder Gordon B. Hinckley relating to the record of members of two Samoan brothers suspected of having negro blood.  He has gone into the records with President Hanks in detail, and has talked with President Percy Rivers who knows these men very well.  About one brother (Malu Epu), the rumor was started years ago that this family had negro blood through a grandmother, a daughter of a man thought to have negro blood.  This brother took the matter to the Samoan courts, and research brought out the facts about a man named Thomas who was supposed to have negro blood.  He was in fact a white American.  Fatu told the story to President Hanks in Samoan who translated for Brother Hinckley.  The son and also the father have been ordained to the Priesthood.  They have been and are active Latter-day Saints; their membership records show negro blood notation.  Brother Hinckley thinks the notation should be deleted without question.

Inoto is a young man from the Solomon Islands whose grandmother was Samoan.  The question is whether these people are negroid.  This does not appear on the local records.  I said that the question is complicated by some saying the Solomon Islanders are not negroid.  Both of these records can be cleared.

I then said that we had this same matter in South Africa.  There was a ruling there that unless a man could prove his origin outside South Africa, he should not be ordained to the Priesthood.  Under such a ruling every man must prove that he is not Negroid.

Bishop Vandenberg said that three other cases had come to their attention, and that he is holding them up until he gets a ruling regarding this matter.

I said that there is a rule in the Church on this matter; that we made it after I came back from South Africa, and that both of the cases here today should be cleared.

Mon., 13 May 1963:

“Nigeria – Missionary Work in

Received a letter from Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner relating to our missionary work in Nigeria.  He reviewed conditions set up by the Nigerian government which must be met before we can enter the country.

He reported the receiving of clippings from papers and magazines showing that there is a concerted drive against, or attack, on the ‘Mormons’.

One of the requirements is that our Church had to be accepted and approved by the Christian Council of Churches, and another is that we should explain our position as far as the attacks which have been made against us are concerned.  Brother Tanner said that he had prepared a letter to Premier Ikpara briefly setting our views, and asking for an early reply.

Since that time, they have found that a group of Nigerian students in San Luis Obispo, California are leading the attack and flooding Nigeria with literature and propaganda against the Church.  Brother LaMar Williams went to talk to these students, and reported that these students base their whole objection to our Church on the fact that we discriminate against them in that we do not give them equal opportunity with white people in the Church.

To date, Elder Tanner has not received a reply from Premier Ikpara.  (see letter following for details.)

Monday, May 13, 1963

President David O. McKay

BUILDING Re:  Nigeria

Dear President McKay:

Early in March we received word that it would be necessary for our church to deposit a thousand pounds with the government as assurance that our missionaries would not become a financial burden on the state.  As a result of this, and other problems which had arisen which prevented our missionaries from receiving visas, you suggested that it might be desirable for me to go to Nigeria shortly after the April General Conference to do what I could to work out a solution to the problems.  Immediately after our discussion, we received correspondence from Nigeria to which was attached clippings from papers and magazines showing that there was a concerted drive against, or attack, on the ‘Mormons.’  We also received a letter from the Secretary to the Premier of Eastern Nigeria listing certain requirements which must be met before our church would be permitted to establish a branch of the mission in Nigeria.

One of these requirements was that our church had to be accepted and approved by the Christian Council of Churches, and another was that we should explain our position as far as the attacks which were made against us were concerned.  I prepared a letter to Premier Ikpara briefly setting out our views and asking for an early reply.  This letter was approved, in your absence, by President Brown.  In this letter I advised him that we were making application to the Christian Council of Churches to enter Nigeria.  When I advised you of this, you instructed me to remain here until we had received a reply to our correspondence.

Since then we have found that a group of Nigerian students in San Luis Obispo, California were leading the attack and flooding Nigeria with literature and propaganda against the church.  Upon my recommendation, and with your approval, Brother LaMar Williams went to talk to these students and see what he could do to influence their thinking and their attitude.  He reported that these students base their whole objection to our church on the fact that we discriminate against them in that we do not give them equal opportunity with white people in the church.  They refuse to accept our doctrine on the pre-existence and claim that all men are created equal and contend that God is no respector of persons.  They claim we do not stand by the Article of Faith wherein we say man is not punished for Adam’s transgression nor for any of our progenitors.  Their spokesman and most all of their members are Catholic and Protestant who will not accept any teachings on preexistence.

As you know, Nigeria is a new nation and is following the lead of the President and many leaders in our country in the claim that all citizens must be given equal opportunity in every phase of their existence.  They claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not prepared to do this and to that extent advocate discrimination.

Brother Williams reports that President Arthur Godfrey cooperated fully with him in talking to these students and he feels sure that Brother Godfrey and other ward and stake officers will make every effort to change the thinking of these students.

To date I have received no reply to my correspondence with Premier Ikpara, and following your instructions, I shall make no further plans to visit Nigeria until we hear further from them or until I hear from you.  I hope and trust this is in keeping with your wishes, and shall await any further instructions.

Sincerely your brother,

N. Eldon Tanner


Tues., 28 May 1963:

“7:30 a.m.

Met with Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner and Brother LaMar Williams and discussed the Nigerian situation.  The interested people in Nigeria are taking the matter into their own hands and are now about to take the matter up with the Premier.  There are two groups, and two leading men with whom Brother Williams has had correspondence.  One is more able than the other.  He has the true spirit of a member of the Church.  The head of the other and larger group is more active.  He was formerly a minister of another Church.  In desire he has been a member of the Church for many years without the benefit of authoritative baptism.  I advised Brother Tanner and Brother Williams to consider the request of these men, and to choose a leader for them; proposing using both of them, the active man to head the larger group, and the more able man, who is well educated and probably will make a better presentation to the Premier, to go together and make their presentation and then come back with their recommendations.  They can request that official members of the Church be admitted to the country to organize them into groups.  The lawyer they have has already expended $250.  I told the Brethren this morning that necessary funds will be sent to present the case to the Premier, but we shall leave it to the people in Nigeria to get permission from the Premier to request the Church to come down there.  So far as we are concerned, we shall leave it absolutely to them.  Instead of 4,000 people seeking baptism, there are thought to be 7,000.

On June 3, received a letter from Nigeria signed by J.M. Johnson, Federal Minister of Labor, saying:  ‘I am informed of the good work now being carried out by your missionaries in the United States.  I am impressed.  It shall be the pleasure of the people of the Federation of Nigeria if you would send one of your Missionaries especially Brother Tanner to Nigeria with a view to establish your work in Nigeria by converting my people, building chapels and schools.’  (see note following for instructions given to Elder Tanner.)

Tuesday, May 28, 1963

MEMORANDUM June 3, 1963


Tuesday, May 28, 1963, Brother LaMar Williams and I met President McKay, at his request, to discuss the situation in Nigeria.  After some discussion, it was concluded that we should discontinue our personal endeavors to obtain permission from the Government of Nigeria to establish a branch of the West European Mission in Nigeria.

Elder Tanner was directed to write to leaders of Church groups in Nigeria who have been corresponding with the Church for some time, acknowledging them as leaders of their groups.  These leaders were to be advised that, as and when they were able to obtain government permission for the Church to do so, it would send in representatives to assist them with their Church program.

President McKay authorized the sending of some money, not to exceed $400.00, to assist them in their costs in connection with their appeal to the Government.”

Wed., 5 June 1963:

Nigeria – Letters from Group Seeking Entrance Into the Church

Copies of Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner’s letters addressed to Mr. Charles Agu of Aba, Nigeria, and a similar letter to Mr. Dick Obot of Uyo, Nigeria, and another to both of these brethren, as well as one addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern’, were read.

I presented a letter from Mr. J.M. Johnson of Lagos, Nigeria, Ministry of Labor, which included the statement, ‘It shall be the pleasure of the people of the Federation of Nigeria if you send one of your missionaries, especially Brother Tanner, to Nigeria with a view to establishing your work in Nigeria.’  I said that we will have to have an official higher than the Minister of Labor offer, before we accept an invitation.’

The letters to the individuals referred to correspondence from them of May 16, 1963, urging the Church to send representatives to assist them in their Church activity, and recited the Church’s endeavor to obtain visas for representatives to go into Nigeria as requested, but that visas, for some reason, had not been forthcoming. 

These brethren were informed that they are recognized as leaders of their groups, one in and around Aba, and the other in and around Abak, which they have organized under the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They stated that if and when visas are made available, representatives will come immediately to assist in the work which will include educational and health programs.

I said that we shall make no further effort to go to Nigeria; that we shall leave them with this responsibility; that the responsibility is now upon them.  I stated that five thousand people are waiting for baptism.  We shall make no concession to the NAACP.  They are trying to take advantage of this situation to make the Church yield equality in the Church.  We do not propose to make any concession.

President Moyle and President Brown concurred in this position.

Fri., 7 June 1963:

10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Conference with President Hugh B. Brown regarding statement he had made with reference to the Church’s stand on the holding of the Priesthood by the Negro, in which it was reported that President Brown said:  ‘The top leadership of the Mormon Church is seriously considering the abandonment of its historic policy of discrimination against Negroes.’  (see newspaper clipping following for details.)

President Brown said that they had misquoted him.  Later, however, Brother Theodore Cannon, who accompanied the reporter to President Brown’s office, said that he was ‘so shocked at what President Brown told the reporter that he himself took out his notebook and started writing down what President Brown said.  ‘He further said that following the interview he called Wallace Turner, the reporter, at the Hotel and asked him if he would let him read his story before he sent it to the Newspaper in New York.  Because of the service Brother Cannon had rendered the reporter, he agreed to let Brother Cannon see his story.  Brother Cannon said that he was able to persuade the reporter to leave out a lot of material which was not too favorable to the Church.

Brother Cannon also said that Robert Dirks, reporter for the ‘National Observer’, subsidiary of the ‘Wall Street Journal’, had asked for an interview on the Negro in light of the article which had appeared in the New York Times, and I said that he should see President Brown and let him straighten the matter out.

11:30 a.m.

Sister Belle S. Spafford, General President of the Relief Society, came in and introduced to me Mrs. Pumla Kisosonkole, Negress from Ugana, Africa.  This lady is Vice President of the International Council of Women, and is on a three-day tour of various educational, social, and welfare organizations in Utah.  She is the guest of the Presidency of the Relief Society, which is also affiliated with the International Council of Women.

Mrs. Kisosonkole said that educating women is one of Uganda’s greatest problems.  The United States is now participating in the construction of a secondary school for girls in Uganda.

I read to her two letters that I have received, one from the Nigerian Minister of Labor asking us to send missionaries and to build chapels for his people as we do for our people in the United States, and another from one of the group now interested in joining the Church who asked for a loan of $25,000 from the Church in order that they might purchase a bus which is needed to transport people to meetings.

Mrs. Kisosonkole said that she knew the Minister of Labor, and gave him a very high recommendation.

I was impressed with Mr. Kisosonkole’s intelligence and her knowledge of conditions in Africa.

I presented her with a brochure telling the story of the Church in colored photography and comments.

Note by CM

As Mrs. Kisosonkole passed through the secretary’s office on her way out, she stopped, put her hands to her chest and said, ‘He is wonderful!’  She had tears in her eyes and seems very much impressed with her interview with the President.  (see newspaper clipping following.)

Friday, June 7, 1963


May End Ban on Complete Membership in Church

By Wallace Turner

Special to The New York Times

Salt Lake City, June 3

The top leadership of the Mormon church is seriously considering the abandonment of its historic policy of discrimination against Negroes.

From its earliest days, the Mormon church has admitted Negroes to simple membership, but is has not permitted them to progress beyond this to the church’s priesthood.

Because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a lay priesthood to which almost every adult male member belongs, the effect has been to limit Negroes to second-class membership.

The theological reasons for this are in the writings of Joseph Smith, the founder of the church.  Negroes are identified as the descendants of Ham, a son of Noah, and as bearing the curse that, Prophet Smith said, God had placed on the descendants of Cain.

One of the highest officers of the church said today that the possibility of removing this religious disability against Negroes has been under serious consideration.

‘We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admitting Negroes,’ said Hugh B. Brown, one of the two counselors serving President David O. McKay in the First Presidency of the Mormon church.

‘Believing as we do in divine revelation through the President of the church, we all await his decision,’ Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Brown, a 79-year-old former attorney, said he believed that if the change were made, it would be a doctrinal revision for Mormonism of a magnitude matching the abandonment of polygamy in 1890.

‘The whole problem of the Negro is being considered by the leaders of the church in the light of racial relationships everywhere,’ Mr. Brown said.  ‘We don’t want to go too fast in this matter.  We want to be fair.’

Under Mormon doctrine, the President is the chairman of the prophets.  He is always the senior member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, each of whom is considered to be a prophet, a seer and a revelator.  A major doctrinal change would be discussed within high church councils before its enunciation by President McKay.

Three Stages of Happiness

Mormon theology envisions an afterlife with three stages of celestial happiness possible, with admittance governed by one’s conduct during life.  Membership in the church is the requirement for admittance to the lowest degree of paradise.  Admittance for a man to the two higher degrees is judged in particular on a requirement of priesthood.  Women also are barred from priesthood, but their places in paradise are decided by the achievements of their husbands.

Thus Negroes, barred from priesthood, are prevented from aspiring to the most desirable levels of life after death.

The Mormons are vigorous proselyters, maintaining missions all over the world, except in the Negro nations in Africa.  They have a mission among the whites in the Union of South Africa.

Earlier this year a plan was announced to send a mission to Nigeria, but the mission has not yet left Salt Lake City.

There are now about 2,000,000 Mormons, and only a few hundred of these are Negroes.  Members of all races, except the Negro, are in the priesthood.

The church also has forbidden Negroes the right of marriage in a Mormon temple.  In addition, the marriage of Negroes to members of other races is forbidden by the church.

Despite these restrictions there have been Negro Mormons from the earliest days.

There were three Negroes in the party that came across the plains and mountains with Brigham Young to found the Mormon capital in the wilderness here on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.  They were reportedly slaves brought into the then small Mormon group when their masters were converted.

Mormon historians also have found that two Negroes were ordained as Elders, perhaps in the eighteen-thirties.

Writings on the Subject

Throughout Mormon writings is the hint that the ban might some day be removed.

Brigham Young once asked himself how long Negroes were to endure the curse of Cain.  He thought it would be ‘until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of priesthood and keys thereof.’

More positive hope was held out by President Wilford Woodruff, who led the church when polygamy was abandoned.  He said:

‘The day will come when all of that (Negro) race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.’

The Mormon church, Mr. Brown emphasized today, has never closed the door to Negroes, nor to the possibility of removing the limitation on their participation in church affairs. 

The New York Times (Western Edition) – Friday, June 7, 1963″

Wed., 12 June 1963:

“12:00 noon

Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner came in to discuss matters pertaining to Nigeria.  I gave him letters that I had received from J.M. Johnson, Minister of Labor, Nigeria; and Udo Ete, member of the group seeking entrance into the Church asking for a $25,000 loan from the Church to purchase a Bus, and asked him to answer them.  (Copies of letters in correspondence file under ‘Nigeria’.)

Thurs., 13 June 1963:

“6:00 a.m.

Arrived at the office.  Read many letters and memorandums on my desk.  Also read telegram received from President John F. Kennedy inviting me to attend meeting of religious leaders to be held in Washington to discuss civil rights matters.  (see Diary on this day, page 2)

7:30 a.m.

Brother J. Willard Marriott of Washington, D.C. came in for a few moments.  We talked about the Civil Rights and the negro problem and disturbing conditions as they exist in the government today.  I took the liberty of letting him read President Kennedy’s telegram.  He agreed with me that it would not be wise for me to go.

9:00 to 9:50 a.m.

Following the departure of Brother and Sister Wilkins we held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  The following matters were taken up:

White House Meeting with Nation’s Religious Leaders – Telegram of Invitation from President John F. Kennedy.

I asked that the following telegraphic invitation from President John F. Kennedy be read:

‘At four o’clock on Monday, June 17, I am meeting with a

group of religious leaders to discuss certain aspects of the 

nation’s civil rights problem.  This matter merits serious

and immediate attention, and I would be pleased to have 

you attend the meeting to be held in the east room of the

White House.  Please advise whether you will be able to


I then read the answer that I propose to send to President Kennedy, as follows:

‘Appreciate telegram June twelfth extending invitation to

attend meeting of religious leaders to discuss certain

aspects of the Nation’s Civil Rights problem.  Owing to

health problem, will you please grant President Hugh

B. Brown, member of the First Presidency of the Church,

privilege to represent me next Monday at four o’clock.’

I suggested that President Brown arrange his affairs to be ready to go to Washington if President Kennedy wishes a representative.

The above wire was sent this morning to President Kennedy; however, no answer was ever received from him, so President Brown did not go to the meeting.  To further show the lack of his personal attention to these matters, I received a letter signed by President Kennedy, dated June 21, 1963, saying, ‘Dear Dr. McKay:  I was pleased that you were able to accept my invitation to meet earlier this week to discuss the expanded role which the religious community can play in helping to solve the difficult problems which face us all in the matter of race relations,…’   (see copies of telegrams and copy of letter from President Kennedy following.)

Nigerian Matters

President McKay said that letters received from the Minister of Labor in Nigeria inviting the Church to send representatives to Nigeria, and one from a member of the group interested in the Church asking for a loan of $25,000, and associated matters have all been assigned to Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner to work out.  I said that the woman from Uganda, Vice-President of the International Woman’s Organization, whom I met the other day, said that she is acquainted with the Minister of Labor in Nigeria; that he is a leading man in the country.  I said that we shall make no further efforts to have missionaries sent to Nigeria; that the matter is now in their hands.

Several other matters were discussed, after which we concluded our meeting.

1:55 p.m.

Dr. Quinn McKay, Professor at the Brigham Young University, called at the office.  He is leaving soon for Nigeria to teach in the University there.  I told him of the group of persons in Nigeria who are interested in being baptized into the Church.  We also talked about the civil rights question that is now before us.

Thursday, June 13, 1963

(Original in ‘Kennedy Section’ of Scrapbook)

Western Union Telegram

148A PDT Jun 12 63 LAO32 BAO20


DC 11






JUNE 13, 1963







Thursday, June 13, 1963

      The White House


June 21, 1963

Dear Dr. McKay:

I was pleased that you were able to accept my invitation to meet earlier this week to discuss the expanded role which the religious community can play in helping to solve the difficult problems which face us all in the matter of race relations.  I was encouraged by the support demonstrated at the meeting and by the progress which has already been made.  It is my hope that as a result of the meeting more intensive activity in the area of race relations will be undertaken by the religious community.

Although I did not have the opportunity to talk personally with every one who was present, the generally cooperative atmosphere of the gathering was reassuring, as was the fact that so many busy religious leaders took their time to come to Washington to discuss this vital national issue.


/s/ John Kennedy

Dr. David O. McKay


Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple Street

Salt Lake City 1, Utah”

Sat., 15 June 1963:

“Following Brother Smith’s departure from the office, I made preparation for tomorrow’s MIA meeting to be held under the direction of the First Presidency.

While engaged in this, I received a telephone call from my secretary, Clare, who reported that President Brown had tried to reach me about his trip to Washingon, D.C.  She said that no answer to the telegram I sent to President Kennedy has been received.  Evidently, the President does not want a representative, so I told Clare to have President Brown call me at the Hotel.  A little later he called and it was decided that he (President Brown) should accept his speaking appointment in Seattle, and that we would not wait any longer for an answer from President Kennedy.”

Wed., 19 June 1963:

“8:30 a.m.

Went into the First Presidency’s room for the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  President Moyle had brought in James E. Faust, President of the Cottonwood Stake, and asked him to explain what he had told him earlier.  President Faust said that as President of the Utah Bar Association he had received telegraphic invitation from President Kennedy to attend a conference at the White House on civil rights legislation.

I told Brother Faust that he should go and find out what President Kennedy is trying to do.  I said that I did not like to see a law passed which will make the Hotel men violators of the law if they refuse to provide accommodations for a negro when their hotels are filled with white people, or restaurant men made violaters when they decline to serve colored people.

I said that business men ought to be free to run their own businesses, and not become law breakers if they choose to employ certain people; that if we have such a law as that, then it is unfair to the majority of the citizens of this country.

President Moyle expressed the opinion that it is unconstitutional because it takes away a man’s right to contract, and to do business.  He said there is no such power given to the Federal Government by the Constitution.”

Tues., 2 July 1963:

“8:30 a.m.

Civil Rights – President James E. Faust reports meeting with President Kennedy.

Went into the office of the First Presidency where we met by appointment President James E. Faust of Cottonwood Stake, and past president of the Utah Bar Association, who attended at the invitation of President John F. Kennedy, the White House Conference on legislation for Civil Rights.  He reported that 244 leaders of the bar from all parts of the country, including Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii, were present.  These included members of the Colored Bar Association.  The President was accompanied by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.  President Kennedy conducted the meeting which met for two hours.  The essence of the meeting was the President’s advice that members of the bar associations of the country can be helpful by taking appropriate action on a local basis to solve racial problems in the communities and states of the country.  He thinks communication between the races can take place on a local level in the local communities and states and by these means each community can solve its own problems and it may not be necessary for the Federal Government to act.  If solution can come from the ground up it will be better than to come from the top down.  If the solution can come that way, federal legislation may be unnecessary.  President Faust commented that he gained the impression that the President had some doubt that his recommendations for legislation can be enacted.

He made some specific recommendations to the colored people.  He said they are creating a social problem in the United States; they drop out of school; 20% are on relief; this continues from one generation to another; they have no incentive to get themselves the necessary skills, and as a consequence they are not holding up their responsibility as citizens.  President Faust said that if ‘I had been a colored man, I would have been upset because he was hard on them.’

The President also recommended that an informal committee be organized to function within the local areas and that lawyers participate on this in the local committees.  The President said he had met with labor, business and Church leaders.  He reommended that lawyers be catalysts in the local communities and keep the lines of communication open between the two races so matters would not break down and get into a shooting proposition.  He recommended that the lawyers with public officials and also with the local committees do something to work on the problem of school dropouts, and to provide legal aid and counsel for indigent colored people; to uphold respect for law, not only by white people but by colored people as well.  It was thought he was referring to the demonstrations throughout the country.  He said that breaches of the peace cannot be committed by negroes any more than they can be by whites and that he intends to enforce the law.  He urged that colored men be admitted to the bar without regard for color.

The Vice-President spoke.  He is head of the Civil Rights Committee.

President Kennedy asked the attorney general to speak.  The attorney general was immoderate.

The President opened the conference up for discussion.  The men from Puerto Rico commented that they had come from a part of the country where the problem does not exist.  Some of the delegates had written speeches or statements; the President asked them to summarize them and said that he would be pleased to receive their statements.  The discussion went back and forth until everyone had opportunity to present his ideas.  Then the President invited all who were present to be part of the informal local committees and said he would not be expected to support the legislative program, but they can function by helping to keep the lines of communication open.  He called upon the president of the American Bar Association — the bar commissioners had previously authorized appointment to the committee of the American Bar, and President Faust was invited to be a member of that committee.  This special meeting of the American Bar will meet in Chicago a week from this coming Friday (July 12).  The president of the Bar Association appointed Harrison Tweed, a distinguished New York lawyer, and Bryan Seigel, to be co-chairmen of this committee.

The President left the meeting and the two men, chairmen of the Bar Association committee, spoke briefly and invited members of the Bar to come into the Rose Garden and talk more informally.

Afterward, the President gave the delegation freedom to see his office and the group was given rather free reign to go where they may want to go.  Mrs. Lincoln, the President’s secretary, and Pierre Salinger were present.  President Faust saw the children playing nearby.   

President Faust said he had a sense of responsibility to know whether or not it was the desire of the First Presidency that he accept membership on the committee to which he was appointed.  He said he does not anticipate trouble, but he does anticipate problems will arise.  He expressed the opinion that the present legislative program of the President is good as far as it goes with relation to educational aspects and communication.  He expressed the opinion that it intrudes upon individual rights in the matter of making private contracts.

The Attorney General is more extreme than the President.  The President handled the situation with considerable ability and grace.

I told President Faust that I think it will be all right for him to join the committee.  President Faust said he felt it encumbered upon him to accept the request of the American Bar Association and since the other legislation was involved he thought the First Presidency should guide him.  President Faust said that in the Church there is little problem.  He said they have Brother Abe Howe and are grateful he is doing as well as he is.

I said that we are on the fringe of having the NAACP on us, and that I had heard recently something enlightening about Nigeria.  My cousin, who is going to Nigeria to teach in the university, will be about one thousand miles from the area where the ‘members’ are who call themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There are about 5,000 of them and they have been active.  I further said that we are going to respond to their call for missionaries to go down there, but they have been putting some obstacles in our way.  We have concluded that we will let them make the advance and extend the invitation, which they are going.  They wanted certain conditions with which we would not comply.  I said that this young man told me he had been studying conditions down there before he accepted the position of teaching in the university and there is united effort since Nigeria received independence from Great Britain to keep aloof from the ‘white man’s yolk’, so they are going to resent the putting white people over the negro groups.  This is the clash.  We find resentment right from the head of the government if we send down white people to be bishops and presidents of branches.  They can take care of the auxiliaries, but they will resent having a white man preside over them.

I told President Faust in the meantime to join the committee and keep us informed.  President Faust asked to whom he should report, and I told him to report to the First Presidency.

President Fuast then departed from the meeting.

11:00 a.m.

Left for home.  I feel it necessary to get some reserve energy to meet the heavy responsibilities before me.

Soon after I arrived home, I received a call from Sister Belle S. Spafford who said that she had received an invitation from President Kennedy to attend a meeting of representatives of women’s organizations to discuss the Civil Rights question.  I told her she should accept the invitation, and report to me, as did Attorney James E. Faust this morning.  I also said that I had received an invitation by wire asking me to attend a meeting of ministers on the same question. “

Fri., 19 July 1963:

10:40 a.m.

Dr. Quinn McKay, my cousin, of the Brigham Young University came in to say good-bye before leaving for Nigeria where he will be a visiting professor at the University of Nigeria for the next two years.  I told Quinn to keep in touch with us during his absence.  He will also look into the matter of the people in Nigeria who are seeking entrance into the Church.

Fri., 9 Aug. 1963:

“8:30 a.m.

Attended First Presidency’s meeting.  Some of the matters considered were:

Nigeria – Report from Marv Jenson

I read a cablegram received from Marvin Jenson from Nigeria, wherein he stated that a million people turned out to see Utah’s fighter, Gene Fullmer, upon his arrival in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Wed., 11 Sept. 1963:

“Syndicated Newspaper Article by Clare Boothe Luce regarding Political Future of George Romney and the stand of the Church on the Negro.

President Moyle read a clipping from the Arizona Republican dated September 1, 1963, being a syndicated article by Clare Boothe Luce, about George Romney’s ’64 deadlock choice, the article being based upon the writer’s erroneous understanding of the position of the Church upon the Negro question.  (see September 13, 1963, Diary for President Moyle’s letter to Mrs. Luce.)”

Fri., 13 Sept. 1963:

“Regular Meeting of the First Presidency held.

Luce, Clare Boothe – Letter to her regarding her article on Church Position on the Negro.

President Moyle read a draft of a letter he had prepared, addressed to Clare Boothe Luce about her syndicated article written for the North American Newspaper Agency on George Romney’s chances, and this with reference to the position of the Church on the Negro question.

I suggested a minor revision, and approved the sending of the letter.  (see following copies of the letter and article written by Mrs. Luce.)

Friday, September 13, 1963

September 13, 1963

Mrs. Clare Boothe Luce

Ridgefield, Connecticut

Dear Mrs. Luce:

Your article on George Romney, syndicated by the North American Newspaper Alliance and appearing in the Arizona Republic on Sunday, September 1st, 1963, was sent to me by a friend who commended your article to me.  Your article so pleased me that I immediately took the opportunity to read it to President David O. McKay and President Hugh B. Brown.  We were all equally pleased with your commendation of the membership of the Church and your somewhat detailed knowledge concerning us and our peculiarities.

It is our belief that the Mormon doctrine certainly does not contradict the spirit or the letter of the Constitution, and is not at variance with the teachings on the quality of souls of all other Christian denominations.  This we do not believe to be one of our peculiarities.

For the article in its entirety we are deeply grateful to you and wanted to extend to you our appreciation.  It is our sincere desire that you might know more about that phase of your article which caused you to feel that our doctrines ‘contradict the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution.’  We did not feel to presume upon your time unless you so desire us to do.  If you would kindly indicate a desire to know more about our doctrine on negroes, it would be my very great privilege to send you somewhat in detail our position on this matter.

I hope it will not be presumptuous for me to say at this time that we baptize any worthy negro into the Church on the same basis of worthiness which we do all other people.  It is a tenet of our faith that baptism when performed by one having the authority opens the door to the Celestial or highest kingdom of God.  We, therefore, integrate ourselves to our negro brethren and sisters not only for time but for all eternity.  We, therefore, may be pardoned when we say that we have more to offer the negro than any other church.

From the beginning of time the conferring of the priesthood of God upon others has been a selective process.  We, therefore, believe that our position on the priesthood is rather one of selection than of discrimination.  The Lord gave to Adam the priesthood but did not confer it upon Eve.  We look upon the priesthood as a sacred trust given to us by the Lord to be conferred upon those whom the Lord designates.

You will recall in biblical history that as among the sons of Jacob it was Levi and the tribe of Levi to whom the Lord gave the Lesser Priesthood.  That is to say, the Aaronic Priesthood.  There would be no hesitancy upon the part of the priesthood of the Church today to confer the priesthood upon the negro were we so authorized.

There is not the slightest possibility of our announcing any revelation upon this subject or changing the direction which the Lord has already given, until the Lord actually so directs.  Until a revelation upon this subject is actually received no change can be made.  When or if such a revelation is to be received, obviously we do not know.

Thanking you once again for the consideration that you have already given us, I am,

Very sincerely yours,

Henry D. Moyle


Friday, September 13, 1963


Phoenix, Sunday, Sept. 1, 1963

The Arizona Republic 

Clare Booth Luce is one of America’s most brilliant women, a former congresswoman, ambassador, authoress, and playwright.  In the following article she sizes up the pros and cons of George Romney as the GOP presidential nominee in ’64.


North American Newspaper Alliance

New York – In the event of a Goldwater-Rockefeller deadlock for the 1964 GOP presidential nomination, Gov. George Romney of Michigan looms as the most likely compromise candidate.

Successive Gallup Polls in recent months show that while he is still running a poor third, he is steadily gaining support not only from Republicans but from independents.

The governor has much to recommend him.  He has proved himself a solid vote-getter in an important industrial state that has had a Democratic governor since 1948.  It is reasonable to suppose that in 1964 Romney could swing Michigan’s 20 electoral votes into the Republican column.

His ideas on domestic and foreign issues are, at this point, necessarily a trifle vague.  But it is getting about that politically he is a solid middle-of-the-roader, ready, if necessary, to make a pragmatic swerve a little to the left or right to pass his opponent on the campaign stretch.

American Motors is a great industrial complex.  Running it has always required statesmanlike qualities.  There can be no question that the former chairman of the board is a man of great executive ability whose experience gives him a wide understanding of the national and international economic situation, and what is most important, of the role of the labor unions in the American Power Structure.  Romney has considerable charm, abundant vigor, and looks more like a president than any man since Warren G. Harding.  His devoted and handsome wife, four fine looking children and five grandchildren are all gilt-edged assets in a presidential campaign.

The governor is also a member in high standing of the Mormon faith, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As religionists, the Mormons are a people of sterling, even extraordinary virtues.  Their courage, moral and physical, their self reliance, honesty, sobriety, their rectitude in their dealings with non-Mormons, their sense of civic and community responsibility, their unfailing charity and support of their own (represented by voluntary tithings) are proverbial.  If Romney should become the Republican Party’s standard bearer, one teaching of his church, unhappily, is bound to open a religious issue:  The Mormon doctrine on the Negro which teachers that Negroes have souls inferior to souls of men of all other races.

It may be said that the letter of the U.S. Constitution derives from the spirit of the Declaration of Independence which holds that ‘all men are created equal,’ and consequently are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…’  The Mormon doctrine certainly contradicts the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution, and is at variance with the teachings on the equality of souls of all other Christian denominations.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith.   Mormons derive their doctrines from the King James version of the Old and New Testaments plus Smith’s revelations and writings.  According to the Mormon belief, the Book of Mormon and certain writings of Abraham and Moses not found in the Christian Bible were revealed to Prophet Smith by God.  Thus, Smith’s Book of Mormon, ‘Doctrines and Covenants’ and ‘Pearl of Great Price,’ together with the Christian Bible compose Mormon scripture.

Joseph Smith derived his Mormon doctrine on Negroes from Genesis, Chapter 9, in which Noah cursed Ham, one of his three sons, saying, ‘Cursed by Canaan (the son of Ham); a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.’  In ‘Pearl of Great Price,’ the Negroes are identified as the cursed descendants of Noah’s son Ham, bearing forever the ‘Curse of Cain’ on their brows: A black skin.

The Mormons have no professional priesthood.  A Mormon male is baptized at age 8, ordained at 12 to an office in the Mormon priesthood.  At age 15, he is qualified to become a teacher: at 18, a priest, and at 20, an elder.  This priesthood and church office is both the prerogative and duty of all Mormon males, except Negroes, who, consequent to prophet Smith’s doctrine on Negroes, are barred from the priesthood as a race accursed.  The Mormons have absolutely no other racial prejudice, although certain inferiorities also attach to women.

The Mormon heaven consists of three circles or states of glory.  Only Mormons are believed to be able to enter heaven.  A Negro male Mormon may enter the first, or outer circle.  But the inner two are reserved for non-Negro Mormons.  Consequently, regardless of his merits, as the Negro is not eligible for the priesthood, he must therefore remain in the outer circle, segregated even in the sight of the Almighty.

The Mormons, vigorous proselytizers, have missions all over the world, but none to any Negro nation.  As of today, their only mission to the ‘dark continent’ is in apartheid South Africa.

It is not surprising, in view of this, that of the almost two million members of the Mormon church in the United States, only a few hundred are Negroes.  And these may neither marry one another in the Mormon temple, nor marry anyone of another race, without losing their Mormon membership.

Negroes represent nearly 9 per cent of the population of Michigan.  Romney’s personal record in American Motors, and later in his gubernatorial campaign, has been one of scrupulous fairness to Negroes.  Indeed he has made great efforts in their economic behalf.  In his campaign he repeatedly stressed the legal equality of the Negro as a citizen.  His success can be judged by the average percentage of Negro votes cast for Democratic candidates in the previous 14 years, as against those cast for Romney in the 1962.  Eighty-six per cent voted Democratic in the Romney election.

A hopeful sign for Gov. Romney’s candidacy is that his co-religionists seem to be having second thoughts on the subject, and there are indications that the Mormon doctrine on Negroes may soon be repealed.

The elected president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is considered the infallible voice or prophet of the church in matters of doctrine.

Hugh B. Brown, one of two counselors to President David McKay, said recently, ‘We are in the midst of a survey looking towards the possibility of admitting Negroes (to the priesthood)…believing as we do in Divine Revelation through the president of the church, we will await his decision…It would be a doctrinal revision of Mormonism of a magnitude matching the abandonment of polygamy.’  (The Mormons abandoned polygamy in 1890, as a result of the Supreme Court decision in a hard-fought Mormon case of multiple marriage.  The decision made polygamy illegal in America.)

In recent years many Mormons have vigorously protested the Negro doctrine of their church.  It is not at all unlikely that in the months to come President McKay may have a Divine Revelation on the subject which will assure the Negroes equality of soul with that of men of other races.  And those who know Romney personally believe that he is devoutly praying that such will be the case.

Meanwhile, until Romney has made his own view on this controversial Mormon doctrine as unmistakably clear to the nation as Sen. Kennedy made clear his view on the separation of church and state, the Romney candidate will be handicapped.  And in the absence of clarification, it should not come as an unpleasant surprise to Romney and his backers that Negroes and most non-Negroes will be bound to feel that Romney, as well as his church, consents to hold the human dignity of the Negroes in low esteem.  Consequently they will be somewhat less than enthusiastic about the prospects of his becoming president of the United States.

The most serious aspect of this question is the propaganda which the Communists could make of it around the world.  If Romney were to be nominated, and this Mormon doctrine retained, Moscow and Peking could announce that the Republican Party candidate was a ‘white supremist,’ submitting indisputable proof from the teachings of his own church.

This would be manifestly unfair to Romney whose own views on the Negro issue, if one judges by his record in private life and his public actions, are really contrary to those of his Mormon faith.”

Fri., 4 Oct. 1963:

“8:30 a.m.

President Hugh B. Brown called and reported his meeting with the members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) held last evening.  He said that they have given their word that they will not march in mass demonstration against the Church, as they had planned, during this morning’s meeting at the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  President Brown promised them that a statement would be made during one of the Conference sessions concerning the Church’s position with respect to the Negro.  (see President Brown’s Report on Sunday Morning, October 6, 1963.)”

Sun., 6 Oct. 1963:

“10:00 to 12:00 Noon

Conducted the sixth session of the Conference which was broadcast to a world-wide audience listening and viewing by radio, television, and short-wave broadcasts.  The Tabernacle Choir’s participation in this session was outstanding.  President Hugh B. Brown was the first speaker.

Statement Issued on the Position of the Church on Civil Rights

Recognizing articles of recent months, both in Salt Lake City and across the nation, President Brown at the beginning of his talk made a statement on the position of the Church on Civil Rights.  This was prepared and approved in advance by the First Presidency.  (see newspaper clippings following for statement)

Other speakers on this broadcast session were:  Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, Howard W. Hunter, Robert L. Simpson, and Harold B. Lee.

It was a glorious session!  Again, great crowds met us as we made our exit from the rear door.  The singing of ‘We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet’, the smiling, sweet faces of the children, and the warmth and genuine feeling of love which emanates from the crowds thrills my soul with gratitude and a reciprocation of love.

Sunday, October 6, 1963


The birth of Christ.  His mission to mortality.  The promise of His second coming.

Vital messages pertaining to these events of Christianity were told by President Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as he addressed the morning session of the 133rd semi-annual General Conference Sunday in the Tabernacle.  It was the last day of conference which started Friday.

First Speaker

He was introduced by President David O. McKay as the first speaker to the world-wide audience listening by short-wave radio, scores of local radio and TV stations.  Short-wave broadcasts were carried to other nations in their own language.

Recognizing articles of recent months, both in Salt Lake City and across the nation, President Brown at the beginning of his talk declared:

‘Considerable interest has been expressed in the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the matter of civil rights.  We would like it to be known that there is in this Church no doctrine, belief, or practice that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights by any person regardless of race, color or creed.

Children of God

‘We say again, as we have said many times before, that we believe that all men are the children of the same God and that it is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.

‘We have consistently and persistently upheld the Constitution of the United States, and as far as we are concerned this means upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen of the United States.

‘We call upon all men everywhere, both within and outside the Church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children.  Anything less than this defeats our high ideal of the brotherhood of man,’ he said.

Leaders of the Church from overseas stakes and missions joined with others from South America and Mexico listening in the Salt Lake Tabernacle through special translation headsets.  The Tabernacle and Assembly Hall were filled to capacity.  Fall weather was ideal.

Other speakers during the Sunday morning session included Elders Harold B. Lee and Howard B. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, and Bishop Robert L. Simpson, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.

President Brown said it would be an ‘overwhelming’ thing to address such a vast audience if it was not for the knowledge that Divine assistance is available through prayers of faith.

New for Old

‘In this fantastically changing world, where old methods, old models, and old ideas are being replaced by new and revolutionary substitutes, it is well that church leaders everywhere re-examine and reappraise their creeds and courageously seek for the causes of the waning interest in religion,’ President Brown said.

‘We are passing through a period of radical intellectual reconstruction and spiritual unrest.  We must think about religion in order to formulate an intellectual understanding of it.  And intellectual understanding is just as needful in religion as anywhere else.  We must not permit the surface of the waters of religious life to become fixed and crystallized by the freezing of religious thought.’

President Brown then told the story of Christ the Redeemer, backed by scriptural references from the Old and New Testaments familiar to his far-flung audiences.

The story related started in the pre-existence period from a Divine plan for man’s salvation formulated by God the Father, before the foundations of the earth were laid when ‘all the sons of God shouted for joy at the prospect of mortality.’

He told of the disobedience of Adam, who broke the law which introduced mortal death but brought about mortal birth.

This created the need for a redeemer to break the bonds of death.  It was Christ the son of God, he said.

‘At the moment of Christ’s birth, Satan plotted his destruction and tried by force to thwart His Divine mission.  But the rule of force, so far as His son was concerned had been vetoed by the Father,’ President Brown explained.  ‘The devil has always had willing tools on earth and at this time Herod was his agent.  He was cruel and wily like his master; he sought to kill the Christ Child and in his slaughter of the infants he set a new low mark for even Satan.’

Other efforts were made to thwart the work of Christ and Lucifer finally looked to Judas, a follower of the Master, to sell his Master for worldly wealth.

While Christ was crucified, he was not defeated but achieved the purpose of His earth life by breaking the bonds of death through the resurrection, President Brown declared.

‘His little band of followers were faithful until death, and death it was for most of them, including the apostles.  Apostasy became universal, and Satan reveled throughout the Dark Ages when it seemed his sovereignty was established,’ he said.

There was a need for a restoration of the Gospel in this dispensation, as foretold by prophetic scriptures, said President Brown.

He warned of modern attacks upon Christ, declaring:

‘It is doubtful if His divinity, His power and leadership, were ever challenged with such audacity and ferocity as they are being challenged now.  Never in history have the common people of the world felt the need of faith in Divine leadership as they feel it in this bewildered world.  There never was a time which needed Him more, when false ideologies and scientific miracles are leading us to the brink of annihilation.

‘There are men and nations today who are attempting to displace God, to ban his religion, and to make this a Godless world.  The present war between Christ and anti-Christ is in fulfillment of prophecy and is itself a harbinger or forerunner of the Millenium.’

Attest Faith

President Brown pleaded with all Christians to attest their faith by keeping the commandments of God.  He said, in conclusion:

‘The fact that He was resurrected from the dead – the best attested fact in history – assures us that He still lives.  He has promised that He will come again …At that time the people on earth will join with the hosts of heaven and sing:

‘The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’

Music for the conference sessions was sung by the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir with Richard P. Condie directing and Alexander Schreiner at the organ.  The choir had a heavy schedule, singing on the Church of the Air CBS program with Elder Gordon B. Hinckley as speaker and Frank Asper at the organ at 7:30 a.m.  An hour later they gave their regular halfhour Sunday morning broadcast before the large Tabernacle audience awaiting conference.

Pres. Lloyd R. Hunsaker, president of  Logan Stake, gave the opening prayer and T. Bowring Woodbury, formerly president of the British Mission, offered the benediction.

A statement of civil rights issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the 133rd Semi-Annual Conference was highly praised Monday by members of the Salt Lake Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Albert B. Fritz, president of the local NAACP, said Monday that ‘the statement by church officials makes it possible for all of us to work in harmony for a better state.’

He added that the NAACP will seek a special session of the state legislature for passage of a civil rights bill.  ‘We have asked all our members interested in civil rights legislation to work harmoniously with all LDS officials.’

‘The statement by President Brown will, we feel, put Utah among other states favoring civil rights,’ he said.

Deseret News – Monday, October 7, 1963

Sunday, October 6, 1963

Sixth Session


An appeal to people everywhere to ‘commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children,’ was made by Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the Sunday morning session in the Tabernacle of the 133rd Semi-Annual Conference of the Church.

President Brown, who was elevated to the position of first counselor at the opening session Friday, was the first speaker after President David O. McKay had called the meeting to order.

At the conclusion of the Sunday afternoon meeting, President McKay brought the conference to a close by pronouncing a blessing on church members everywhere.

The Civil Rights declaration was the opening statement of President Brown’s address, and was added after the original draft was prepared.  The full text is as follows:

‘During recent months, both in Salt Lake City and across the nation, considerable interest has been expressed in the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the matter of civil rights.

‘We would like it to be known that there is in this church no doctrine, belief or practice that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights by any person regardless of race, color or creed.

‘We say again, as we have said many time before, that we believe that all men are the children of the same God, and that it is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity and to every privilege of citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.

‘We have consistently and persistently upheld the Constitution of the United States, and as far as we are concerned this means upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen of the United States.

‘We call upon all men everywhere, both within and outside the church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children.   Anything less than this defeats our high ideal of the brotherhood of man.’

Sunday, October 6, 1963


The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was asked to ‘unequivocally support civil rights legislation on both the national and local levels,’ Saturday by the Salt Lake Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Albert B. Fritz, president of the Salt Lake Chapter of the NAACP, said a letter requesting the church support, drafted by a six-member committee, was delivered to LDS Church officials late Saturday.

He added that he did not know which official had received the letter and said he would not divulge the contents of the communication.

At a meeting Friday night, the chapter membership voted to accept a request from the LDS Church leadership for more time to consider issuing a statement on the matter.

The chapter also voted to demonstrate next Saturday ‘if a statement is not forthcoming from the Mormon Church leadership.’

Mr. Fritz said he did not wish to make public the contents of the letter Saturday, because the chapter ‘does not want to give people the wrong impression.’

‘We’re not demanding something on the religious side of it,’ Mr. Fritz said.

‘We want to cooperate with the church officials and do nothing which might place our efforts in this direction in any jeopardy,’ he added.

The Salt Lake Tribune – Sunday, October 6, 1963

Sunday, October 6, 1963


Albert B. Fritz, president of the Salt Lake Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, praised a statement urging civil equality for all persons which was made Sunday during the 133rd Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The statement was made during the conference sessions in the Salt Lake Tabernacle by President Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

Mr. Fritz praised the church leader’s statement during a regularly scheduled NAACP board meeting at his home, 920 W. 3rd North.

‘We feel this will certainly put Utah in line with other liberal states in the West which have come out in favor of civil rights,’ Mr. Fritz said.

‘We have urged all NAACP members, interested church groups, civil organizations, labor unions and individuals that have been working toward passage of civil rights legislation in Utah to work in harmony with all LDS Church officials and members where it is possible, Mr. Fritz added.

‘We want to build a stronger Utah,’ he said.  ‘If we work in harmony, we will have a better state.’

Mr. Fritz added:

‘Through this statement we are asking all NAACP branches throughout the nation not to demonstrate or picket any LDS missions or churches.’

The Salt Lake chapter had voted to demonstrate next Saturday if a settlement was not forthcoming from the LDS Church leadership.

The chapter also delivered a letter to the LDS First Presidency Saturday, asking the LDS Church to ‘unequivocally support civil rights legislation on both the national and local levels.’

At the same time Sunday, Mr. Fritz took Gov. George D. Clyde to task.

‘Gov. Clyde missed a golden opportunity to advance the state when he failed to come out publicly in favor of civil rights legislation,’ Mr. Fritz said.  ‘We trust that in the not too distant future the state legislators will pass civil rights legislation.’

The Salt Lake Tribune – Monday, October 7, 1963″

Tues., 8 Oct. 1963:

Civil Rights Statement in Conference

I asked if anything additional had developed from the announcement of the position of the Church on the subject of Civil Rights delivered by President Brown in the Sunday morning session of the Conference, and President Brown said that he had received from the local representatives of the NAACP expressions of thanks for the statement.  A letter from Mr. Albert B. Fritz, local president of the organization, was read.  It expressed appreciation for the statement and said that they look forward to further meetings with the First Presidency on the subject.

I stated that the statement was in fulfillment of a promise, and President Brown said it was made in response to a request for the statement.  I said no more would be said about it, and President Brown and President Tanner expressed concurrence.”

Thurs., 10 Oct. 1963:

“Nigeria, Visas for Missionary to

We read a letter from Senator Wallace F. Bennett which announced that information had been received that visas for missionaries to go to Lagos, Nigeria had been received.  President Tanner reported that he had advised LaMar Williams to withhold publicity, and to remain calm until the visas come into his hand.

We also read a letter from Quinn McKay who reported a gathering of a group of members of the Church for religious services in northern Nigeria where he is serving on the faculty of the university.  A small group meets regularly every Sunday morning for classes, hymn singing and prayer.  President Tanner explained that it is a group of students and teachers and government workers giving specialized service for a period of two or three years.  Brother Quinn McKay explained that the Moslems are predominant in the area, and that the living standards and concepts of family life are greatly different from our own.  It was decided to authorize Elder McKay to organize the small group and to conduct services of that group under the First Presidency rather than to be under any mission for the present, and that the group report to the First Presidency from time to time.

Fri., 1 Nov. 1963:

“Negro Lineage – Aaronic Priesthood for Boy with Suspected Negro Blood

Bishop Vandenberg explained that the Bishop of Val Verda Fourth Ward, South David Stake, by letter presented the question relating to a boy of that ward of supposed negro lineage, who is about to be graduated from the Primary, and to be recommended to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  The basis for the supposition of negro lineage is that the father was a Puerto Rican.  The suggestion has been made that the boy be given a patriarchal blessing for the declaration of lineage.

I said, ‘No, let that boy go on.’  President Brown said that that would be his feeling.  Bishop Vandenberg said that they have no proof that he has negro blood.  Bishop Simpson said if a mistake is made the Lord will take care of it.

I said that I have met this question by following the rule that we shall face the Savior and tell what our decision is with a clear conscience.”

Tues., 14 Jan. 1964:


President Tanner reported that LaMar Williams has received a letter from the acting chief federal immigration officer in Nigeria informing him that his application to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington to make a short visit to Nigeria will be granted.  We agreed that Brother Williams might make a trip to Nigeria and talk with the government officials, explaining his mission there, and that he should be prepared to organize the Church there if the government officials will give permission for our missionaries to enter.  President Tanner said that those people in Nigeria are very sincere, they have read our literature, they are well informed, are thoroughly converted, and are prepared to accept and live the Gospel without holding the Priesthood.

I said that as soon as the Church is organized there, and missionaries are granted admission, we should be prepared to make contributions to assist them in their building operations and that we must be open to receive them.

It was agreed that someone should accompany Brother Williams on this trip, and Presidents Tanner and Brown will arrange to select some Canadian for this purpose, inasmuch as citizens of the United States would not be granted a visa.

Negro – Organization of in Salt Lake City

President Tanner said that Brother Williams had reported having talked with Shirley Woodward and Abner Hales, local Negroes, who are faithful Church members, and who told him that there are 50 to 75 Negroes who would like to join the Church and have the activities that the Church provides for them.  Brother Williams suggested that they be formed into an LDS Branch and that we assign Stake Missionaries or others to meet with them and take care of the necessary ordinances; also that arrangements could be made for them to meet in a chapel or some other building for the holding of their services.  Brother Williams said that he had talked to Albert Fritz, who does not want us to do anything that would segregate these people.

I said that I do not favor this proposition.

Tues., 25 Feb. 1964:

Brigham Young University – Statement regarding the Negro by Professor Chaney

The statement by Professor Chaney made in Detroit, expressing the opinion that the Church will alter its position on the Negro receiving the Priesthood, etc., was read by President Tanner.

I took the statement and said that I would talk with President Crockett about the matter.

Wed., 4 Mar. 1964:

Nigeria – Special arrangement Made for Members of the Church at University of Nigeria — to Report to First Presidency

We read a letter from Elder Mark E. Petersen of the West European Mission relating to the situation of a group of sixteen members of the Church serving in the administrative institute of the University of Nigeria, recommending that this group be assigned to some permanent agency.   I advised that the group report to the First Presidency as the group in Iran and the group in Saudi-Arabia report.

Wednesday, March 4, 1964



Present:  Presidents David O. McKay and N. Eldon Tanner.  President Hugh B. Brown absent, being indisposed.

Special Arrangement for Members of the Church at the University of Nigeria

The letter of Elder Mark E. Petersen was presented relating to making arrangement for a special group of 16 members of the Church associated with the institute of administration at the University of Nigeria.  After discussion it was decided that this group report to a permanent agency rather than a mission and instructions were given that it report to the First Presidency as the groups in Iran and Saudi Arabia report.  Direction was given that a letter be prepared accordingly.  (Dr. Quinn McKay is a member of this group and is stationed now at the University of Nigeria.)

Thurs., 26 Mar. 1964:

“10:00 a.m.

Meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

Deseret News – Thursday, March 26, 1964

“Nigeria – Report submitted by LaMar Williams

President Tanner read a memorandum submitted by Elder LaMar Williams on Nigeria.

President Tanner explained that Brother Williams desires to make another effort to get a visa for himself and family to enter Western Nigeria at Lagos.  Brother Williams is investigating the possibility of locating at Lagos, the capitol of Western Nigeria, and has asked if he could do that.  President Tanner said he would give him no encouragement to do so, but he advised that he might try to obtain a visa into Western Nigeria.

Details of the groups interested and their leaders reported with the attached memorandum were reviewed.

President Tanner explained that the officials in Eastern Nigeria are definitely opposed to permitting missionaries entering.  They claim we rate the Negro as an inferior person.  They have no objection to white people and English people coming into the country to help develop it.  They are encouraging people to come in to help with the development of the oil prospects and other of the country’s resources, but they are not accepting our position on the Priesthood.  A group of students sent to Eastern Nigeria gave information about our position on the Priesthood.  There is a man, a Catholic, who has influence to keep us out.

I asked what President Tanner recommended be our next step.  President Tanner said  LaMar Williams wants to send a monthly letter encouraging them to read about the Church and to advise them on the organization of Sunday Schools.  President Tanner explained to Brother Williams that he was concerned about this because the Church does not want to recognize them as a Church until such time as they are organized.  I agreed that this is the right position.  President Tanner said if we decide to send material in, it should be sent to individuals and not to the group as a Church, but to let them use it as individuals.

The other thing Brother Williams wants to do is to make application for a visa.  President Tanner took it upon himself to encourage him to try to go into Lagos in Western Nigeria.  President Tanner said he thinks he should wait, however, until we see what the answer is.  I said we should be rather careful about sending them anything which would recognize them in an organized way; that we ought to send somebody to meet with the federal government over Nigeria.  President Tanner said if LaMar Williams can get a visa to do that he will work with them.   If he cannot get that, then we are finished in Nigeria for the time being.  ‘I will tell him if he sends any literature to send it to individuals and not to groups’, President Tanner said.  I said that is all right.”

Tues., 30 June 1964:

“Note by CM

A Mr. Robert E. Able (Box 7, 424-1/2 South State Street, Salt Lake City, Utah) came into the office and wanted to see President McKay about genealogical records of seventy or more people who, he claims, are descendants of Elijah Able, Negro upon whom, he says, the Prophet Joseph Smith conferred the Priesthood.  Robert Able claims that Elijah Able’s descendants have all had the Priesthood bestowed upon them, and he wants to know what they are to be told when they learn they have Negro blood in their veins, and should not have had the Priesthood bestowed upon them.

He said the Reorganized Church is right when they bestow the Priesthood upon Negroes.  I answered, ‘Then why don’t they have Temples and follow the revelations on ordinations in the House of the Lord.  We actually offer the Negro as much if not more than any other Church.’

Robert Able said he did not believe that, and that he is going to publish a book upon this entire matter.  He wants a statement from the Church on its stand regarding the Priesthood and the Negro.

I told him that President McKay is ill and that he would not be able to see him; that he should go to President Brown.  He said, ‘No, I will not do that; I’ll leave my address and he can get in touch with me if he wants to.’

I told him to be careful what he does; that he should leave the matter alone as he might hurt a lot of individuals, but he said he will publish the book anyway no matter what anyone says; that he has his free agency so to do.  He then left the hall and went out the front door.

I reported this matter to President Brown’s secretary, President Brown being out of town at the time.”

Thurs., 2 July 1964:

“4:00 p.m.

My secretary, Clare, at my request, brought over to the apartment a telegram just received from President Lyndon B. Johnson, inviting me to serve on the National Citizens Committee for Community Relations, having to do with the Civil Rights Bill, and a voluntary effort to preserve order and achieve the goal of equal treatment and opportunity for all Americans.’

After giving deep thought to this matter, I decided there is nothing else for me to do but to accept the President of the United States’ invitation.  The Civil Rights Bill is now passed and it is the law of the land.  Some of it is wrong — the Negro will now have to prove himself.

I, therefore, sent a telegram to President Johnson accepting his invitation to serve on this national committee.  (See following for copy of telegrams referred to, also see following newspaper clippings regarding passage of the Civil Rights Bill on this day.)

Note by CM

Since the Negro questions have been a matter of national concern, President McKay has received a number of letters from persons inquiring why the Church refrains from bestowing the Priesthood on the Negro.

Sometime ago President McKay prepared an answer to this question.  As a matter of record, I am including a copy of that letter.

Thursday, July 2, 1964


130A PDT JUL 2 G4 LC022




Enactment of the Civil Rights Bill will challenge all Americans to join in an affirmative voluntary effort to preserve order and to achieve the goal of equal treatment and opportunity for all Americans.  To encourage and assist this voluntary citizens’ effort, a community relations service will be established by the bill under Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges and a Director soon to be named.  The service will assist communities in preventing or resolving civil disputes and tensions through reason, persuasion, _______________________________.

When the bill is signed, I intend to appoint a nation-wide committee of distinguished citizens from all walks of life who will augment the work of the community relations service.  I want as its members leading Americans who will lend their influence, their skill, and their time to the crucial task of fostering voluntary observance of the provisions of the bill.

I deeply hope you will advise me by return telegram that you will serve on the National Citizens Committee for Community Relations, which will be established and publicly announced only after final passage of the bill.

It is contemplated that after the organization of the Community Relations Service there will be a meeting of this ___________________________________________ national program will be fully spelled out and your own role will be more clearly defined.

I urge you as a private citizen to use your leadership in the meantime to promote a spirit of acceptance and observance in your own community and business area.

Lyndon B. Johnson

(Original in President Johnson Scrapbook)

Thursday, July 2, 1964


President Lyndon B. Johnson

The White House

Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

Your telegram of July first just received.  While walking by your side in the White House on January 31, I decided when national difficulties crossed your path that I would attempt to lighten your load whenever possible.  The Civil Rights Bill is the beginning of troubles that will require the truest and best statesmanship of the President of the United States.  I accept your invitation to serve on the National Citizens’ Committee.

David O. McKay, President

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Thursday, July 2, 1964


November 3, 1947

Dear Brother:

In your letter to me of October 28, 1947, you say that you and some of your fellow students ‘have been perturbed about the question of why the Negroid race cannot hold the priesthood.’

In reply I send you the following thoughts that I expressed to a friend upon the same subject:

Stated briefly your problem is simply this:

Since, as Paul states, the Lord ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,’ why is there shown in the Church of Christ discrimination against the colored race?

This is a perplexing question, particularly in the light of the present trend of civilization to grant equality to all men irrespective of race, creed, or color.  The answer, as I have sought it, cannot be found in abstract reasoning, for, in this case, reasons to the soul is ‘dim as the borrowed rays of moon and stars to lonely, weary, wandering travelers.’

I know of no scriptural basis for denying the Priesthood to Negroes other than one verse in the Book of Abraham (1:26); however, I believe, as you suggest, that the real reason dates back to our Pre-existent life.

This means that the true answer to your question (and it is the only one that has ever given me satisfaction) has its foundation in faith – 1) Faith in a God of Justice, 2) Faith in the existence of an eternal plan of salvation for all God’s children.

I say faith in a God of Justice, because if we hold the Lord responsible for the conditions of the Negro in his relationship to the Church, we must acknowledge justice as an attribute of the Eternal, or conceive Him as a discriminator and therefore unworthy of our worship.  In seeking our answer, then, to the problem wherein discrimination seems apparent, we must accept the Lord as being upright, and that ‘Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne.’ (Psalm 89:14), and we must believe that He will ‘render to every man according to his work,’ and that He ‘shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’  (Eccl 12:14)  Accepting the truth that God is just and righteous, we may then set our minds at rest in the assurance that ‘Whatsoever good thing any man doeth the same shall be received of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.’  (Eph. 6:8)

I emphasize Justice as an attribute of Deity, because it is the Lord who, though He ‘made of one blood all nations,’ also ‘determined the bounds of their habitation.’  In other words, the seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man, but goes back into the Beginning with God.

It was the Lord who said that Pharaoh, the first Governor of Egypt, though ‘a righteous man, blessed with the blessings of the earth, with the blessings of wisdom . . . could not have the right of Priesthood.’

Now if we have faith in the justice of God, we are forced to the conclusion that this denial was not a deprivation of merited right.  It may have been entirely in keeping with the eternal plan of salvation for all of the children of God.

Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.  In that pre-mortal state were ‘intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

‘And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good.’

Manifestly, from this revelation, we may infer two things:  first that there were among those spirits different degrees of intelligence, varying grades of achievement, retarded and advanced spiritual attainment; second, that there were no national distinctions among those spirits such as Americans, Europeans, Asiatics, Australians, etc.  Such ‘bounds of habitation’ would have to be ‘determined’ when the spirits entered upon their earthly existence or second estate.

In the ‘Blue Bird’, Materlinck pictures unborn children summoned to earth life.  As one group approaches the earth, the voices of the children earthward tending are heard in the distance to cry:  ‘The earth!  The earth!  I can see it; how beautiful it is!  How bright it is!’  Then following these cries of ecstasy there issued from out the depth of the abyss a sweet song of gentleness and expectancy, in reference to which the author says:  ‘It is the song of the mothers coming out to meet them.’

Materlinck’s fairy play is not all fantasy or imagination, neither is Wordsworth’s ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality’ wherein he says:  

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting

And cometh from afar;

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home;

For, as we have already quoted, it is given as a fact in revelation that Abraham was chosen before he was born.  Songs of expectant parents come from all parts of the earth, and each little spirit is attracted to the spiritual and mortal parentage for which the spirit had prepared itself.

Now if none of these spirits was permitted to enter mortality until they all were good and great and had become leaders, then the diversity of conditions among the children of men as we see them today would certainly seem to indicate discrimination and injustice.  But if in their eagerness to take upon themselves bodies, the spirits were willing to come through any lineage for which they were worthy, or to which they were attracted, then they were given the full reward of merit, and were satisfied, yes, and even blessed.

Accepting this theory of life, we have a reasonable explanation of existent conditions in the habitations of man.  How the law of spiritual attraction works between the spirit and the expectant parents, has not been revealed, neither can finite mind fully understand.  By analogy, however, we can perhaps get a glimpse of what might take place in that spirit world.  In physics, we refer to the law of attraction wherein some force acting mutually between particles of matter tends to draw them together and to keep them from separating.  In chemistry, there is an attractive force exerted between atoms, which causes them to enter into combination.  We know, too, that there is an affinity between persons — a spiritual relationship or attraction wherein individuals are either drawn towards others or repelled by others.  Might it not be so in the realm of spirit — each individual attracted to the parentage for which it is prepared.  Our place in this world would then be determined by our own advancement or condition in the pre-mortal state, just as our place in our future existence will be determined by what we do here in mortality.

When, therefore, the Creator said to Abraham, and to others of his attainment, ‘You I will make my rulers,’ there could exist no feeling of envy or of jealously among the million other spirits, for those who were ‘good and great’ were but receiving their just reward, just as do members of a graduation class who have successfully completed their prescribed courses of study.  The thousands of other students who have not yet attained that honor still have the privilege to seek it, or they may, if they choose, remain in satisfaction down in the grades.

By the operation of some eternal law with which man is yet unfamiliar, spirits come through parentages for which they are worthy — some as Bushmen of Australia, some as Solomon Islanders, some as Americans, as Europeans, as Asiatics, etc., etc., with all the varying degrees of mentality and spirituality manifest in parents of the different races that inhabit the earth.

Of this we may be sure, each was satisfied and happy to come through the lineage to which he or she was attracted and for which, and only which, he or she was prepared.

The Priesthood was given to those who were chosen as leaders.  There were many who could not receive it, yet who knew that it was possible for them at sometime in the eternal plan to achieve that honor.  Even those who knew that they would not be prepared to receive it during their mortal existence were content in the realization that they could attain every earthly blessing — progress intellectually and spiritually, and possess to a limited degree the blessing of wisdom.

George Washington Carver was one of the noblest souls that ever came to earth.  He held a close kinship with his Heavenly Father, and rendered a service to his fellowmen such as few have ever excelled.  For every righteous endeavor, for every noble impulse, for every good deed performed in his useful life George Washington Carver will be rewarded, and so will every other man be he red, white, black, or yellow, for God is no respecter of persons.

Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the Priesthood.  In the meantime, those of that race who receive the testimony of the Restored Gospel

may have their family ties protected and other blessings made secure, for in the justice and mercy of the Lord they will possess all the blessings to which they are entitled in the eternal plan of Salvation and Exaltation.  

Nephi 26:33, to which you refer, does not contradict what I have said above, because the Negro is entitled to come unto the Lord by baptism, confirmation, and to receive the assistance of the Church in living righteously.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ David O. McKay”

Mon., 6 July 1964:

“Remained at home today.  Sister McKay is better.

Telephoned to my secretary, Clare.  I had not been in touch with the office since last Thursday.

She reported that a letter had come from Mr. Luther Hodges, Secretary of Commerce, Washington, D.C., soliciting my cooperation in assisting community leaders in resolving racial tensions and assuring harmonious observance of the new Civil Rights Law.

I asked Clare to acknowledge the letter and to tell Mr. Hodges that I have accepted President Johnson’s invitation to serve on the Civil Rights Citizens Community Relations Committee.”

Tues., 15 Dec. 1964:

Nigerian Investigators

President Tanner called attention to correspondence that President Wayne McIntire of the West German Mission had had with a man named Eko of Nigeria, which correspondence he had referred to President Benson and President Benson had sent the latest letter to us for answer.  Mr. Eko wants to know the exact name they should put on their signboards, stating that they have one or two Mormon churches there.  President Tanner said that Brother LeMar Williams is doing a good job of correspondence with these people, that he confers with him from time to time relative thereto, and he suggested that this letter be turned over to Brother Williams so that he may inform him as to the manner in which we are proceeding.

In answer to my inquiry as to what the present status of the situation in Nigeria is, President Tanner said that the latest word he had received is that the people who have been trying to get us to come there have met with the Premier of East Nigeria and they have been invited to come back again December 8.  They think that visas will be available sometime in January or February.

Thurs., 31 Dec. 1964:

“8:30 a.m.

President Tanner and I met in my private office for the regular meeting of the First Presidency, President Brown being in California for the Holidays.

We then took up official matters, some of which were as follows:

Negro Members – not to Serve as Assistant Ward or Branch Clerks

We considered a question that had been raised by President Dallas A. Tueller of the Fresno Stake as to whether a Negro in good standing may be made Assistant Ward or Branch Clerk.  It was our sentiments that we are opposed to using Negro brethren in such positions.

Thurs., 4 Mar. 1965:

“8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with my Counselors this morning in the office in the apartment.  Among matters considered were:

NAACP (Colored People) Committee Visit

Presidents Brown and Tanner reported that representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called to see them yesterday for the purpose of requesting a statement from the First Presidency or that direction be given to the Deseret News to write an editorial supporting legislation that is before the Legislature providing for fair employment practices and other civil rights legislation.  President Brown said that they listened to what they had to say and he believed that they went away feeling all right.  It was the feeling of the Presidency that no action should be taken.  (See March 7, 8, and 9, 1965, for marches made at Church Headquarters by these people.)

At the conclusion of the meeting, as Presidents Brown and Tanner left to attend Council Meeting in the Temple, I asked them to convey my love to the Brethren.  I said that I had intended going to the Temple this morning, but the doctors had advised against my doing so.  I asked the Counselors to tell the Brethren that I would be with them soon, and that I am planning to attend and speak at the coming April Conference.

Sun., 7 Mar. 1965:

“Convalescing at Home

NAACP – Civil Rights Demonstrators’ March on the Church

From our window in the Hotel, we noted the civil rights demonstrators as they marched in front of the Church Administration Building.  Very few were Negroes, most of them being White persons.  The demonstration lasted about fifty minutes, and there were no untoward incidents.

Sunday, March 7, 1965

NAACP Calls March for LDS Appeal

The Ogden and Salt Lake Branches, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will stage a prayer march Sunday at 2:30 p.m., John Driver, Salt Lake NAACP president, said Saturday.

The march will begin at the new Federal Building, 125 S. State, and end at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Administration Bldg., 47 E. South Temple.

‘Use Influence’

‘The purpose of the march is to ask the LDS Church to use their influence for moral justice in regards to civil rights,’ said Mr. Driver.

He said the march is an aftermath of a meeting held Wednesday between NAACP representatives and Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the LDS First Presidency and N. Eldon Tanner, second counselor in the LDS First Presidency.

During the meeting, Mr. Driver said, members of the First Presidency were asked to take a public position in regards to the moral question of discrimination in housing and employment in Utah.

‘To Remain Silent’

Mr. Driver said he was informed Saturday that the First Presidency will remain silent on the question.

At the prayer meeting NAACP members will discuss ‘amendments that are being used to cripple the civil rights bills before the Legislature,’ Mr.Driver said.

President Tanner confirmed that the church had refused to make a public statement on civil rights but declined further comment.

The Salt Lake Tribune – Sunday, March 7, 1965″

Mon., 8 Mar. 1965:

“NAACP Demonstration

President Tanner discussed with me the desire of the NAACP Leaders that the Church support them in civil rights legislation before the Utah State Legislature.  Their representatives got in touch with President Tanner on Friday, at which time President Tanner told them that we had decided not to say anything in favor or against legislation, that we as a Church feel to keep out of the political field, that we do at times express ourselves on moral questions like the liquor bill, and that the Deseret News had written an article on that subject.  President McKay agreed that this was the right attitude.  Brother Tanner stated that last night Earl Hawkes, General Manager of the Deseret News, had called and reported that the Negroes are going to march every day this week unless something is said, he asked if we wanted him to try to relieve the pressure.  President Tanner asked me if I think that the Deseret News should prepare an editorial repeating the statement made by President Brown in a recent conference repeating the statement made by President Brown in a recent conference representing the view of the First Presidency in civil rights.  Arch Madsen had called President Tanner this morning and asked if he thought KSL should say anything about the Negro demonstration other than as a news item.

I said that we have said all we are going to say and all that we should; that I do not favor our repeating what had previously been said on the subject.

Editorial appeared this evening in the Deseret News, giving the Church’s stand on this question.

I was very tired following the meeting, so did not hold a meeting with my secretary.

4:00 p.m.

NAACP Demonstration

350 Civil Rights Demonstrators marched in front of the Church Administration Building.”

Monday, March 8, 1965

NAACP Appeals To Church

About 350 persons demonstrated in front of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offices Sunday, asking for a statement on civil rights.

John Driver, president, Salt Lake chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said another demonstration was to be held Monday at 4:30 p.m. if a statement by Church officials was not forthcoming.

NAACP officials met with Presidents Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency of the Church Wednesday and asked Church leaders to use their influence to support fair housing and employment in Utah.

Participants in the Sunday demonstration marched from the new Federal Building at 125 S. State St. to the Church office building at 47 E. South Temple.

They sang the anthem of the civil rights movement, ‘We Shall Overcome,’ and stood in silent prayer.


Mr. Driver asked that church leaders ‘make their stand clear to members of the Church and people of the world as other churches have.’

‘Church officials have made their stand clear on the liquor bill.  Now we ask them to take a stand on a much more important problem,’ he said.


In a verbal prayer, Dr. Palmer S. Ross, minister of the Trinity A.M.E. Church, 241 E. 6th South, asked for ‘justice and equal rights.’

A large poster, reading, ‘LDS Leaders Use Your Influence for Moral Justice’ served as a backdrop for Mr. Driver’s speech.

In an address in the Church’s semi-annual conference in October, 1963, President Brown condemned racial discrimination:

‘…It is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.’

Deseret News – Monday, March 8, 1965



Organizers of the civil rights demonstration in Salt Lake City over the weekend declared they were seeking a statement on the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on civil rights.

Can it be they have forgotten the clear, concise statement given officially by President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency at the October 1963 General Conference?

If so, let us repeat it:

‘We would like it to be known that there is in this Church no doctrine, belief, or practice that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights by any person regardless of race, color, or creed.

‘We say again, as we have said many times before, that we believe that all men are the children of the same God and that it is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right of gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.

‘We have consistently and persistently upheld the Constitution of the United States, and as far as we are concerned this means upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen of the United States.

‘We call upon all men everywhere, both within and outside the Church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children.  Anything less than this defeats our high ideal of the brotherhood of man.’

This statement is clear and unequivocal.  How its principles are translated into law becomes a matter for the consciences of individual legislators.

Deseret News – Tuesday, March 9, 1965″

Tues., 9 Mar. 1965:

“Did not hold a meeting with my Counselors today.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People again marched in front of the Church Administration Building.  On March 10, they shifted their march to the Utah State Capitol Building.”

Wed., 14 Apr. 1965:

“8:45 a.m.

Held a meeting with my counselors.  We took up a number of items some of which were:

Sealing of Woman Previously Married to Negro

President Brown called attention to a request that had been received from a woman formerly married to a Negro, by whom she had two children.  She later divorced the Negro and married a white man and wants to go to the Temple and have her children sealed to her and her present husband.  We agreed that if otherwise worthy, the woman and her white husband could go to the Temple for their endowments and be sealed, but the children by the former marriage could not be sealed to them.”

Thurs., 22 Apr. 1965:

“8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Presidents Brown and Tanner came over for a meeting of the First Presidency.  Some of the items we discussed were:

Negro Question – Nigeria, Missionary Work In

The Brethren discussed at some length the Negro question, LaMar Williams’ assignment to Nigeria, and related items.  President Tanner reminded us that three years ago it was decided to appoint LaMar Williams to visit Nigeria and take with him some missionaries for the purpose of baptizing worthy converted people who have asked for baptism, this work to be under the direction of the West European Mission.  President Tanner explained that at that time at the First Presidency’s request, he went to Nigeria at Christmas time and it was understood that arrangements were completed whereby Brother Williams and these missionaries could enter Nigeria within three weeks from the time when President Tanner was there.  It so happened that adverse criticism and publicity was sent from California to Nigeria from Nigerian students who were attending school in California, which criticism appeared in the press, and the Nigerian Government decided against giving visas for our people to go there.

President Tanner further stated that at that time I had decided that we should not press the matter of a mission to Nigeria, that if the people there wanted us to come in they should arrange for the government to invite us to do so.  In the meantime Brother Williams has been carrying on a correspondence with the people in Nigeria who wish to join the Church, as well as with government agencies, and he has now received the information that the people there were endeavoring to have him admitted, and in the correspondence it was indicated that they have no application from Brother Williams for a visa.  They have sent forms for him to fill out answering certain questions in applying for visas for himself and family.  President Tanner further stated that three or four Nigerian students have come to the BYU with the help of funds that Brother Williams has collected from various people, which funds are also intended to assist them in their maintenance while here obtaining their education.  Two of these Nigerian students have now applied for baptism and the Bishop of the Ward where they live, and the Stake President, have approved them for baptism next Saturday and Brother Williams is to baptize one of them.  President Tanner also mentioned that a Negro couple, converts from Panama, were attending the Brigham Young University, and it is understood that these young people came to the BYU upon the encouragement of Brother Williams.  In this case it seems that the funds to maintain them were not sufficient and now the wife has left her husband and the school and gone to Brooklyn.  It seems that the question has been raised as to Brother Williams’ activities among the Negroes, and the concern has been expressed that we are sitting on a powder keg, as it were, if anything should go wrong.  President Tanner said that President Brown and he were of the opinion that we could not interfere with the baptism of these two young Nigerian students, as to do so might cause serious disturbance.  They raised the question as to whether or not there should be some supervision in the matter of bringing these students to the BYU without a definite arrangement as to their scholarship or support while they are here.

We were agreed that we should not encourage more Nigerians to come to the Brigham Young University, but in the case of those who are here we should continue to take care of them until they finish their education courses, and this assistance should be given through funds that Brother Williams has collected or may collect for that purpose.

The question was raised about Brother Williams’ further activities in this Nigerian situation, and mention was made of the fact that Brother Williams refers to the blessing given him by me setting him apart to preside over this particular district, in which blessing he was told that there would be obstacles, but that he should carry on and not be discouraged.  The thought was expressed that Brother Williams is a little over-enthusiastic about this matter, and that perhaps if and when he goes to Nigeria he may not use the best judgment.  The suggestion was made that it would seem advisable to send a solid person with him who could modify his enthusiasm.  President Tanner also raised the question as to whether, inasmuch as Brother Williams has applied for his visa, we should permit him to go to Nigeria and baptize these people who are ready for baptism as was originally intended, and effect an organization there.

I said that Brother Williams should go to Nigeria and arrange for these baptisms and keep the Nigerians in Nigeria as much as possible.  President Tanner will talk to Brother Williams this afternoon and tell him that we want him to discourage people from coming here from Nigeria to attend school; also that he would tell Brother Williams that it is all right for him to go forward with the matter of securing his visa in order that he might go to Nigeria and arrange for the baptism of worthy converted Nigerians and effect a proper organization among them.

In discussing this matter reference was made to an article that appeared in the University of Utah Chronicle in which it was reported that the NAACP had tried to get their people to stage a demonstration here last night when Joan Baez was putting on a performance in the Tabernacle with the Utah Symphony Orchestra.  They did not want her to sing in the Tabernacle because the Church was opposed to Negroes.

Thurs., 3 June 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Held the regular meeting of the First Presidency in the apartment.  Among the many items considered were:

Nigeria – Life and Time Magazines’ Representatives Ask About Missionary Work in Nigeria

The Brethren reported that a representative of the Time and Life magazines had called on them this morning and asked regarding the Negro situation.  The representative is a member of the Church.  President Brown stated that President Tanner and he were not able to give him very much information except to tell him that we have no official organization of the Church in Nigeria, that such work as has been done in Nigeria has been done by the people on their own account and we are not authorized as yet to send official representatives there, having been unable to get visas.

President Brown said this magazine representative raised the question as to the Negro holding the Priesthood and they told him that all that they could tell him was that as of now the Negro cannot hold the Priesthood.

Nigeria – Lamar Williams to do Nothing Further about Work in Nigeria

President Tanner reported that Brother Lamar Williams had made another application for visa to Nigeria and had been turned down by the authorities.  President Tanner told Lamar that he should do nothing further in the matter, that he thought perhaps he might be irritating them by his constant requests.

I said that the matter should not be pushed.”

Fri., 4 June 1965:

“8:30 to 9:50 a.m.

Held a meeting with my counselors in the office in the Hotel.  Some of the matters considered were: 

Negro – Those having Negro Blood Cannot Hold the Priesthood

Reference was again made to the following case which had been considered by the Presidency a few days ago.  A Mexican woman had married a man who she thought was an Indian, but she later learned he had some Negro blood.  There were born to this marriage boys who have been raised in the ward with their comrades who have attended Primary, Sunday School and Seminary, but now they cannot be given the Priesthood whereas their comrades are ordained.  Their friends pass the Sacrament and they have to refrain from doing this.  These boys say that they cannot stay in the church under these circumstances and would rather go to some other church where there is no discrimination.

The mother also states that she feels that if the boys go into another church, she will have to go with them and would have to withdraw from the Church.  It was mentioned that the father has been teaching the Gospel Doctrine class, that he does not hold the Priesthood, and is not asking for it, knowing that he cannot have it. 

The question raised was whether the time has come when the Negro should be given the Lesser Priesthood.  President Brown said that he had talked with the stake president and bishop, both of whom are acquainted with the family and regret the situation very much.  They say the boys are outstanding young men.  I stated that we stand with all former Presidents of the Church that these boys having Negro blood cannot have the Priesthood.  It was agreed, however, that by all means we should encourage them to remain in the Church.”

Tues., 15 June 1965:

8:30 a.m.

Met with President Nathan Eldon Tanner in the office in the apartment.  President Brown is in Hawaii.  Discussed with him several Church matters.

Nigeria – Visas

President Tanner said that he had received a telephone call today from a Brother James Larkin in New York who referred to a recent article in Time magazine regarding ‘Nigerian Mormons’, and said that he had spent two years in close relationship to the government in northern Nigeria, also in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria; that he knows the government officials very well and has respect for them.  Brother Larkin indicated that he felt sure if he could talk with these officials face to face and explain to them the conditions that prompt our desire to obtain visas to Nigeria, that unless there is some commitment to the contrary, he could influence them to change their attitude.  Brother Larkin said that he was available to help in the situation if we desired this service.  He stated that the attitude of the Church toward the Negro question had been a stumbling block to him before he joined about two years ago; that, however, he understands the problem now and thinks he can explain it to others.

I said that I am convinced, after studious thought and prayer, that we should go into Nigeria and give them what we can give them in accordance with the revelations of the Lord.  As of now, the Lord has not yet revealed to us that we should give the Negro the Priesthood, but we can baptize them, give them membership in the Church, and give them the benefit of the Auxiliary organizations.  They may partake of the Sacrament and hold meetings.  If we accept Brother Larkin’s offer to go into Nigeria for us, he should make the investigation on a more or less confidential, quiet basis, going to Nigeria without letting anyone else know about it.

Referring again to the Negro question, I said that we are now face to face with a great principle that is as vital to the Church today as was the principle of letting the Jews be baptized in the Christian era, and mentioned the occasion when James sat with the Brethren of the Twelve and rendered the decision that the Jews could have the Gospel.  I said that it is up to the Lord to decide the Negro question.  (See Diary of June 23, 1965, for conference held with Brother James Larkin.)

Tues., 22 June 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Held regular meeting of the First Presidency.  Some of the matters discussed at this meeting were:

Nigeria – Meeting with James Larkin

President Tanner reported having talked with Brother James Larkin of New York over the telephone regarding his earlier report of his acquaintance with Nigerian officials and his willingness to do anything we desired about contacting these people relative to the securing of visas to go into Nigeria.  President Tanner had suggested to Brother Larkin that he come to Salt Lake for a personal interview.  President Tanner had talked with Brother Brockbank and Brother Arch Madsen regarding Brother Larkin, who are both acquainted with him, and speak of him in high terms.  It was reported that Brother Larkin had joined the Church less than two years ago.  It was agreed that the presidency would meet with Brother Larkin this afternoon at 1:30.

12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Nigeria – President Tanner and James Larkin on Nigerian Matters

President Nathan Eldon Tanner came over with Brother James Larkin of New York, and for the next three hours listened to Brother Larkin’s ideas and experiences in Nigeria.

Wed., 23 Jun., 1965:

Nigeria – Interview with James Larkin

Mention was made of the interview by the First Presidency yesterday of James Larkin regarding the Nigerian situation.  Reference was made to the fact that Brother Larkin reports his close acquaintance with government officials in Nigeria, that during the past six years he had spent the majority of his time working with Nigerian problems and has spent about two years in Nigeria.  Brother Larkin has offered his services in going to Nigeria to meet with Government officials if the Brethren desire him to do so relative to obtaining visa privileges for representatives of the Church.  At my request, President Tanner and Brother Larkin had met with LaMar Williams regarding the Nigerian problem and prepared a brief statement of the situation which was read at this meeting.

I stated that I think the time has not yet come to go into Nigeria.

11:00 to 12:00 noon

Nigeria – Meeting with President Tanner, Brother James Larkin of New York, and Elder Lamar Williams

At eleven o’clock, President Tanner, Brother James Larkin of New York, and Brother LaMar Williams came over to the apartment, and for the next hour presented matters pertaining to missionary work in Nigeria.  For full details, see copy of minutes following.

I told the brethren that I feel we want to make available to the people in Nigeria everything the Church can make available to them, but that I do not want the government to feel that we are pressing to get into Nigeria.

Wednesday, June 23, 1965

Report of the Meeting Held Wednesday, June 23, 1965 at 11:00 a.m. In President McKay’s Apartment

At 11:00 a.m., Wednesday morning, June 23, 1965, President Tanner with Elder LaMar Williams and Brother James Larkin met President McKay in his apartment in Hotel Utah.

President Tanner read a written statement, which had been prepared, reporting an earlier meeting on the subject of NIGERIA, which President McKay had asked to be prepared.  President Tanner read also a covering memorandum addressed to President McKay.  He explained that President McKay had expressed a wish to see these brethren and arrangements were made for this meeting.

President McKay asked Brother Williams, after the reading, whether he had anything to add.  Brother Williams explained that several groups of Nigerian citizens had made efforts to approach officials in Nigeria at Lagos and at Enugu, the eastern regional capitol.  Charles Agu, representing one of the groups, had been invited to go to Lagos to answer questions.  He responded, returned to his home, and then wrote to Brother Williams, reporting.  He explained that the officials wanted additional information in regard to the application for entrance of missionaries.  One question was how much do we intend to spend on education, hospitals, church buildings in a year’s time.  They did not expect that this information would be in any specific number of buildings and realized that once the Church is established it would be a continuous program of development.  The officials explained that they needed some figures in order to satisfy their government that the Mormons were coming in to assist their people.  Several Christian churches, some even in the last three months, have ben accepted by the government.  The official indicated that once this information is received they would reconsider our application for visas.

Brother Williams explained that in the letter he had sent earlier he had indicated that he has a small business which has the patent rights for an explosive and that they are in the process of going into Nigeria with it.  The Nigerian government is interested.  The Spencer Chemical Company of Kansas City is purchasing United States patent rights.  The explosive is equivalent to 70% dynamite and can be used in damp climates.  Brother Williams mentioned this at one time when he was applying for a visa.  He wanted to know whether they were interested.  They wrote back at the time they refused him a visa and suggested that he reapply for a business visa and gave him assurance that this would be approved.  Brother Wiliams said that they understood that this would take only a few hours a week.  He would not be manufacturing anything.  It was a matter of interesting the government in it.  Brother Williams was interested in knowing whether he could get in that way.  They assured him that he could get a business visa.  It was his purpose to use this only as a last resort as a means of getting in.  He only wanted to explore this and see whether it could be done with their approval and with the understanding that he would still be doing Church work with a business visa.

Brother Williams expressed the opinion that perhaps a person from Canada or England could replace him after the work had begun and that it would be possible to ask the Nigerian government to register his company and let him apply for a visa.

The company does its business as the Inca Company for the purpose of setting patent rights.  He has taken out patent rights in Nigeria through Great Britain with the expectation that the product will be manufactured in Nigeria through the government or a local personnel.

President McKay asked whether Brother Williams has anyone associated with him who might think that this was used as a subterfuge and as a means of getting a visa.

Brother Williams said, ‘We would not want to use any subterfuge as a means of getting in; and when application is made for a business visa, it will be with the clear understanding that I will want to spend time with the religious groups and helping them with their religious activities; and while I am in the country on the business visa, I will hope to be helpful to the people in their religious activities.’  That would be thoroughly understood.  Brother Williams mentioned that the Interstate Engineers of California own 14% of the patent rights.

Brother Williams expressed the opinion that it would be a most desirable plan, if Brother Larkin could go to Nigeria and see if he can go into this situation and explain the purpose of the Church and gain their confidence and get in on a full religious visa.  ‘I should think that that should be the first consideration at this point.’  President McKay said, ‘Otherwise they might think that you would be using a subterfuge to get in.’

Brother Williams said, ‘We do not want that.’

President McKay, ‘No, not in any way.’

President McKay asked Brother Larkin: ‘You have been down there how many times?’

Brother Larkin replied, ‘Twelve times.’  And he said further that he has been there on personal trips and on business trips for the last six years.  His wife has not accompanied him, although she is interested in doing so.  They have four small children and that is the reason she has not gone.

President McKay asked Brother Larkin whether there was any chance of any group taking advantage of his applying for a visa and accusing him of subterfuge.

Brother Larkin said he does not believe so, because he has been a frequent traveler to Nigeria for a variety of reasons over the last six years.  It would not be likely that anyone could accuse him of subterfuge.  He returned from Nigeria last Christmas.  The most recent trip was of six weeks’ duration.  Christmas in 1964 was the last time he was in Nigeria.  He did not believe that he would be accused of subterfuge.

President McKay asked Brother Williams why he was refused visa.  Brother Williams explained that the opposition came mostly from a political secretary of the Premier of the Eastern Nigeria Province, the area into which he wished to go.  Brother Williams met with him, and the secretary explained that he was the man who was keeping him out.  He is a Catholic; had resided for a number of years in Chicago, where he had seen segregation and manifestations of ‘white supremacy,’ and he felt that this might be the reason we do not give the Negro the Priesthood, because we felt superior.  He felt that it would not be advisable to give us a visa because a national election was soon to be held, and he thought it would have an effect on the election of their candidate.

Brother Williams asked him about going out of the country and applying for a renewal of his visa, and the secretary answered, ‘We think that would be all right; it would be to our advantage to have you come in often.’  But he did not explain why.  Tourist visas are being extended to two months.

Brother Williams expressed the opinion that it might be well while this matter is not selected to go in and spend two months at a time, once or twice a year, and hold these people together.  Ten Latter-day Saint families are in Nigeria now.  All of the ten hold the Priesthood.  They are men with doctors degrees; Dr. Quinn McKay, Dr. Black, Dr. Hanson, and Brother Fairholme with their families.  They have offered their services.  President McKay said many of them are in the north.  None are in the eastern part at the present time.  Quite a number of white people have gone in in the course of time.

Brother Larkin explained that the political secretary to whom Brother Williams refers, he believes, his name is Udoci.  He is the political secretary to the Premier of the Eastern Region.  He would be equivalent in this country to the political secretary of the governor of a state.  He is using his political position in a part of the Nigerian Republic, in one of the states of the Nigerian Republic, to put pressure on the federal government.  This is possible for a politician to do.  He is not a federal officer and has nothing whatever to do with the visa decision.  He has injected himself in an informal fashion.  Brother Williams is correct.  He is probably one in an informal way who has caused this difficulty.  He is a Nigerian, a bystander offering his opinion and pressure, which is being listened to.

President McKay:  ‘The fact remains that the people in Nigeria look upon our attitude toward the Negro as one who is inferior.’

Brother Larkin said, ‘It is the opinion of some well-placed Nigerians, but it is not the opinion of all Nigerians.  Many Nigerians who have local power might be involved in the decision of the Church sending missionaries, but have no opinion and knowledge of the Church at all.  There are some Nigerians who do not feel this way; whether they represent anything more than a minority is not known.’

President Tanner commented that they have a voice whether they have influence.

Brother Larkin said, ‘The people who have involved themselves in this decision in the informal way, such as the secretary of the Eastern Regional Premier, have all been, with the exception of your Nigerian adherents, who are people interested in the Church, the people who have given attention to the problem, small though they may be, have been acting in a negative sense.  There has been no common understanding by the people of the government on the positive side, other than the trip made by President Tanner and the trip made by Brother Williams.’

President Tanner commented that the local people had been to the government, both at Lagos and Enugu.  Brother Larkin said that strangely enough the local Nigerians who call themselves Latter-day Saints are members of a political party, which is currently playing the least role in the federal government; therefore, their opinions, unfortunately, because it is a democracy, would not carry as much weight as if they might have come from the northern regions, whose leaders control the federal government.  So it is conceivable that our forces of strength have not been marshalled properly and have not presented us and our story adequately enough.

President McKay:  ‘It is demonstrated, however, that because the Church does not give them the right to hold the Priesthood, the Nigerians will hold that against us.’

Brother Larkin:  ‘Some Nigerians, undoubtedly, will, President McKay, but whether most of the Nigerians will, I do not know.’

President Tanner said that President McKay feels that they have a political tool which they can use, like this student out here – this fellow we have been speaking about – as he expressed himself this morning.

Brother Larkin said, ‘My feeling is perhaps from my having become a member of the Church over the past few years.  It was a most difficult conversion, President McKay.  I did not readily accept the gospel during the half dozen years I have been traveling to Nigeria.  I feel I have developed an ability to communicate with these people.  At this time I feel impelled because of the situation in Nigeria to offer whatever abilities I might have in the service of the Church.  At least, I should not leave any stone unturned, no honest, decent stone unturned, but we have just let the thing take care of itself.’  As recently as a year ago I joined the Church.  I have an extremely strong testimony.  I believe as strongly as a man can in the righteousness of our Church and in the truthfulness of our Church; that I believe I can conceivably make a contribution in this area.  I do not know what the results will be.  I can make no promise, but I do believe that I can communicate accurately our position to the men of intelligence who will in the final instance make the decision.  This I can promise, but of the results after the communication I have no idea.  My feeling at the moment is that our communications have not been as full as they might have been.  I think the forces of darkness on the other side have been more cleverly and more astutely used in the way they have marshalled their strength.’

President McKay:  ‘To every group in Nigeria you and your associates will have to say you cannot hold the Priesthood, and they will believe that our belief is that the Nigerian people are inferior.’

Brother Williams said that they understood why they cannot hold the Priesthood.  He said he had a letter from Dick Obot, which had been written about the article in Time Magazine.  When he was interviewed by a reporter, he was asked about the Priesthood, and Obot explained that the Priesthood is not given to the black man and will not be until God wills it by revelation.  They understand this well and they are taught also that there are many things they can have in the gospel and through the Church that they cannot get in any other Church.  Brother Williams explained that when he speaks to the colored people on the subject he aims to impress them with our belief in the degrees of glory in the Kingdom of God and the requirement to enter the Celestial Kingdom; that this earth will become celestialized and that it is far better to be a baptized member of the Church in good standing in the Kingdom of God and with limited activities and without the Priesthood than to be a member of any other Church with all the authority they have to offer.  Once these people understand that this is Christ’s true Church, their baptism is the most important thing they can do in this life.  Thereby they become members of God’s kingdom.  This overrides anything the opposition may bring.  The opposition says you cannot hold the Priesthood.  The Nigerians say, ‘You haven’t the Priesthood either, but we have it in the Church.  We would rather be baptized members than to be a member of the Church of the People of Rome or any other Church.’

When we put over this point, we have no trouble.  We have quite a number of faithful Negro members in Salt Lake City.

President McKay inquired as to the number.  Brother Williams estimated that there are about 200; about fifty to sixty have found some measure of activity for themselves by their own efforts.  He mentioned a young couple who a month ago adopted a Negro baby from the Relief Society.  They cannot have children of their own.  He mentioned also Sister Bankhead and Sister Starr and her daughter Shirley, who has a family of six or eight children.  She has a group of women who meet every week.  Among them there are nearly fifty children.  Sister Shirley asked if they could organize the Relief Society for the young mothers so they could have the benefits of the teachings of the Church and also have instruction in home building and the care of children.  They are anxious to have some organization in which they can associate and study.  She had explained that her greatest fear is where to find companions for their children away from the beer taverns on Second South because they are not admitted anywhere else.  She said the Church does not offer them any program in which they can raise their children in the gospel.  They do not have an organization in which they can associate with other people.  They are scattered all over the city.  A Negro family does not have a chance to get acquainted with other Negro families in the Church.

Brother Williams related that he met with Albert Fritz, who was formerly the local president of NAACP.  He asked Mr. Fritz if it would be all right with his group, if we found a Latter-day Saint Chapel in which the Negro members of the Church could hold M.I.A. meetings, Sunday School, and evening meetings just for their people, would that be considered segregation?  Mr. Fritz said, ‘No, we would not consider it so long as they are sharing a building which white people are also using.’  These people do not have anyone to care for them.  Brother Williams reported that a mother came to him last week and explained that they had not been going to Church.  They have moved into the stake in which Brother Williams lives.  The children would not go to Sunday School.  They used to sit on the back row.  Their father had been a Gospel Doctrine teacher, and the bishop said he was a good one.  The mother had been secretary of the Relief Society and active in the Primary and in the Church as the boys were growing up.  When they got to the age when they did not feel they were accepted, wanted, and needed, the mother said, ‘I do not know what I am going to do.  I must not lose my boys.’

Brother Williams said he had a talk with her and referred to the advantages of members in the Kingdom of God and being heirs to the Celestial Kingdom through the ordinance of baptism and that he hoped that the husband and the bishop and he could find something for the boys to do.  He said he had in mind secretarial work.  One of the boys plays the organ well and could be an organist.  The mother went home that night.  She said she fasted and prayed about it.  She talked to her husband and they called in the older boy and talked to him about his not going to Church.  When she told him that she had decided to go to another Church, he asked her, ‘Which Church are you going to join?’  He said that he didn’t want to join another Church.  She said, ‘You must be in Church, and don’t let this Priesthood matter disturb you.’  He said he was not going to join any other Church.  She told him she wanted him to go to Sunday School.  They called in the younger boy and got the same reply from him.  She said, ‘Brother Williams, it worked.’

There is no program for these people, and they feel left out.  Brother Williams said he would talk to Bishop Richards and learn if there is anything that boys can do which will not require the Priesthood.  He commented that the problem is growing in the Church and we have not taken care of it.

Brother Williams said he called Sister Bankhead and asked her whether she was a member of the Church, and she said, ‘Certainly.  My grandfather drove the white mules that brought Brigham Young and his family across the plains.’  She said, ‘I am proud of my grandfather and of my membership in the Church and I have a strong testimony of the Church.’

President Tanner said to President McKay, ‘It seems to me that you feel that we should not go forward and try to press to get in there.’

President McKay responded in the affirmative.

President Tanner:  ‘The other day you said you would like to give these people everything the Lord has told us we can give them, but we do not want to try to persuade the government against their wishes nor against the feeling that they have.  Am I stating as you, and as I understood you, yesterday?  President McKay answered, ‘That is right.’

President Tanner:  ‘If this is the conclusion, then Brother Williams should wait until some change of conditions or until you feel that we should make another effort to get in.  We thank Brother Larkin for his interest and express our appreciation for the opportunity of getting acquainted with him and ask him to wait for the time being.’

President McKay said, ‘There is no reason why he cannot go into Nigeria and exercise his Priesthood.’  He asked Brother Larkin what Priesthood he holds.  Brother Larkin answered that he is a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood.  He was baptized early this year, 1965.

President Tanner, ‘You feel there is no reason why Brother Larkin should not go in, but you do not want to send him in as our representative.’

President McKay answered, ‘Yes.’

Brother Williams commented that if Brother Larkin goes in it will be on a business trip.

Brother Larkin explained that he would not normally be visiting Nigeria at this time or in the foreseeable future.  He said, ‘I do not know what the future will bring.  I have no trips at the moment planned to Nigeria.’

President Tanner summarized, saying, ‘Let me repeat again.  I am not speaking for President McKay, but just because it was a little easier for me to speak.  President McKay would like to make available to these people everything the Church can make available to them, but he does not want the government to feel that we are pressing to be in there; we would not want to be in a position to be criticised.’

Brother Larkin:  ‘If I go in there on another type of trip, I won’t do anything before finding out exactly what you may want me to do.’

President Tanner said, ‘You know the whole picture.  You won’t go in as a representative of the Church.’

President McKay:  ‘You hold the office of Priest.  You could administer the sacrament.’

Brother Larkin said, ‘Yes, President McKay, I do administer to the sacrament.’

President Tanner:  ‘So we just leave it that way this morning.  If we get in touch with Brother Larkin later, we can find out whether he is going over there.  He will let us know.  At the moment he cannot see in the foreseeable future a trip coming up.’

Brother Williams explained that he had received a letter from a Reverend in Aba who asked if he could bring his forty Churches in that area into the Church.  There must be 200 congregations.  Brother Williams said he wrote to Charles Agu, who is a bright, capable man.  If he were a white man, he would be bishopric material.  He writes an excellent letter.  He is striving to prepare the way.  He is most anxious that we do something for his groups.  ‘I do wish there were something we could do to keep these people satisfied and let them know we are interested.  This could be done with a trip once or twice a year.

‘We have three students from Nigeria at the B.Y.U.  They are representing the Church well.  They are morally clean and they are living good Latter-day Saint lives and taking care of their duties, and they do everything they are asked to do.  The people are still looking to us to give them guidance and help and assistance.  There are so many who are expecting us to give them guidance and help; someone who could keep in touch with them.  If we could visit them for a two-month period and teach and direct them, this would be in agreement with the government until we can open up a way to get in there permanently.  I feel we should not let this program die; I think it is the will of the Lord that we take the gospel to them; that we should continue to try to find a satisfactory solution of the problem of their government.  If we can get in on this basis, we can do a lot for them.  These people are manifesting a strong testimony and a strong desire to become affiliated with the Church and are willing to come into the Church without the Priesthood.

‘Some of this opposition developed with the Reverend Udodi when he wanted to come into the Church and there came a time when he felt that he would not have a job when the people came into the Church.  I was there and visited with him.  He asked Dick Obot what would happen to him.  He wanted to buy a bus for his people so that they could come to Church.  Some live twenty-five miles away.  I wrote back and told him we could not participate.  A few of these things irritated him.  He has visited Dick Obot, and he has had a change of heart.  He wants now to be accepted into the Church again.’

President Tanner said, ‘Then we have the NAACP, who have already taken their position.  They have decided they will correspond with every government of black people and try to persuade them not to allow our people in.’

The meeting concluded when President Tanner at 11:55 a.m. left to attend a meeting of the Board of Directors of Beneficial Life Insurance Company to be held at 12 o’clock noon.

Minutes taken by A.H.R.”

Wed., 7 July 1965:

“8:30 to 10:45 a.m.

Held a meeting with my Counselors.  Among matters discussed during this time were:

Negro Problem

We had some discussion regarding political matters and made particular mention of the Negro question and the recent charges of the colored organization NAACP regarding alleged Mormon discrimination.  We were agreed that the best way to handle this situation is to take no notice of their charges and to say nothing whatever relative thereto. 

Wed., 14 Jul., 1965:

Nigeria – Students at Brigham Young University

President Brown reported that there are three Nigerian students at the Brigham Young University who have received scholarships from the fund established by LaMar Williams, that the fund has been exhausted and the committee has suggested the financing of these students will be needed to take care of their schooling.  It was reported that there are two or three ways in which this could be handled.  President Raymond E. Beckham of the Brigham Young University Stake, Bishop Richard B. Wirthlin of the BYU 41st Ward, and Lamar Williams state that they would have no difficulty in getting the money if we gave them the go-ahead signal authorizing them to contact a few people to raise money for this purpose.  Second, they might be requested to return to their homes, but this is not felt advisable under the conditions.  Third, the Church could take the responsibility of taking care of them.

In this connection it was mentioned that two of these people are good students and devoted Church members, having been baptized.  It was also stated that there was a misunderstanding between their leader in Nigeria and Brother Williams, that Brother Williams had told them that they would have a scholarship here, but in Nigeria they had a misunderstanding of what this scholarship contemplated.

I said that we should give President Beckham, Bishop Wirthlin, and Brother Williams the go-ahead sign to raise the money.

Thurs., 19 Aug. 1965:

“9:15 a.m.

Arrived at the underground parking plaza at the Church Administration Building.  Presidents Brown and Tanner were just leaving for the Temple through the newly-constructed tunnel which leads directly into the Temple.  I joined them, and was thrilled with this new convenience — what a wonderful thing it is to be able to leave our offices in the Church Administration Building and go by tunnel right under Main Street to the Temple.

10:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Met with the Brethren in the first meeting of the Council in the Salt Lake Temple since our adjournment on Thursday, June 24, 1965.  Following the singing and opening prayer, I expressed my appreciation and thanks to the Lord for the opportunity of meeting with the Brethren in the House of the Lord.  I extended my greetings and blessings and then told them to proceed with their regular order of business; that I am unable to do much talking but that I would listen and participate as much as possible.

We then listened to the following interesting reports from the Brethren:

Negro Riots – Stake Conference Postponed

Elder Harold B. Lee reported that he had received the appointment to attend the South Los Angeles Stake Conference on Saturday and Sunday last, that, however, because of the rioting that took place in South Los Angeles among the Negroes, he conferred with President Whittier of the Stake by telephone, who told of the terrifying experiences the people were going through, that the feeling was tense, the situation dangerous, and there was a serious question whether we should hold a Conference and bring about two thousand members, some of them through the black belt, knowing that the Negroes had been incited against the Church.  He said the whole thing was much like an armed camp, virtually under military control.  In a later telephone conversation with President Whittier he said that the police had given strict orders to everybody not to hold congregational meetings.  Accordingly, it was decided not to hold the conference that had been scheduled.

It was reported that our Santa Monica Stake building was broken into and there was some damage; also that the Huntington Park Stake building had some windows broken which had been replaced.

Elder Kimball mentioned that he is scheduled to hold a conference this weekend at Burbank, and he assumed that he should arrange to attend.  President Brown suggested that it would be well to check with the Stake President and see that everything is all right.

Fri., 20 Aug. 1965:

“9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

Attended a meeting of the First Presidency at which time we took up many matters of general Church importance, some of these were:

Utah State University – Application by Negro Student to Live in David O. McKay Center

President Tanner called attention to a letter that had been received from a Negro boy making application for acceptance in the David O. McKay Student Center at Logan.  In his letter this young man inquired if the Living Center is open to all creeds and races.  He states that he is a Negro and Catholic by religion and that he is willing to abide by Latter-day Saint standards.  In discussing this matter, it was mentioned that in each of these apartments provision is made for six students and that this would place one Negro with five white boys in the same apartment.  In discussing this matter, it was the sentiment of the Brethren that we should maintain this center as a Church dormitory and that only those who have membership in the Church should be admitted.  Mention was made of the fact that at the present time there are some non-Mormon students in this Center who have been admitted on condition that they abide by Latter-day Saint standards.  It was thought that while we should allow these non-member students who are there now to remain, it should be definitely understood that we will accept no further non-members.  We shall meet with President Reed Bullen and discuss the matter fully with him.

Nigeria – LaMar Williams to Leave for Nigeria — to make no Commitments for the Church on Schools, Hospital, etc.

President Tanner reported that Brother LaMar Williams had now received a visitor’s visa to go to Nigeria, and that the officials and others have told him that if he goes there on a visitor’s visa he can get an extension of the visitor’s visa and possibly obtain a permanent visa.  Brother Williams would like to take with him a young missionary who is awaiting a call, and this young man, who is from Canada, could go to Nigeria without a visa inasmuch as he is a Canadian.  The young man in question would act as sort of a secretary and do the leg work.  Brother Williams would like to go by way of Ghana, and suggests that the Church call this young man to go with him.  President Tanner asked me if I favor this, and I answered in the affirmative.  It was suggested that Brother Williams will need a letter from the First Presidency addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern’, indicating that he is visiting Nigeria as a representative of the Church.

In discussing this matter, it was agreed that when Brother Williams is there, he should make no commitments for the Church so far as schools, hospitals, welfare, etc. are concerned; also that he should handle himself while there, particularly that he should in no way become involved in political matters.  I suggested that Brother Williams be asked to meet with the First Presidency for instructions.

Wed., 25 Aug. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  President N. Eldon Tanner present, President Hugh B. Brown enroute to Canada.

Nigeria – LaMar Williams Instructed the Church is not to be involved with the Educational Program; Missionaries not to do Proselyting Work

Following Lawrence’s departure, we met with LaMar Williams in regard to his appointment to go to Nigeria and take charge of the work of the Church in that country.  In discussing the matter with him, we had in mind that Brother Williams has received a temporary visa to go to Nigeria, with prospects that he can later obtain a permanent visa to do missionary work there.

Arrangements have been made for Elder Boyce Roger Wright of Canada to accompany Brother Williams.  It is understood that Brother Wright is among other things a typist and could be of real assistance to Brother Williams.  It is also the intention for Brother Wright to remain in Nigeria for his mission unless it may develop that Brother Williams cannot get a permanent visa, in which event Brother Wright could go to South Africa to complete his mission.  It is Brother Williams’ suggestion that he and Brother Wright go to Nigeria, and in the event Brother Williams is able to get a permanent visa, he would then return home and get his family and take them to Nigeria also.  Brother Williams met with the First Presidency in their discussion of this situation and the First Presidency gave instructions to him regarding the proposed operations in Nigeria.

It was agreed that we should not in any way become involved with the educational program in Nigeria, that we should be entirely independent of the school there.  Elder Williams, upon arriving in Nigeria, will arrange to register the Church there and then apply for a residential visa.  Brother Williams stated that the people who have been investigating the Gospel in Nigeria are well acquainted with the fact that they cannot be given the Priesthood.  I said that it should be definitely understood by them that we are making no concessions in this regard.

We emphasized that we do not wish Brother Williams or any of the missionaries to do proselyting work in Nigeria.  The purpose of the mission largely is to confer with and baptize those who are ready for baptism, with the understanding that they should be carefully screened before baptism, and after these baptisms have been performed auxiliary organizations could be set up such as the Primary, the Relief Society, the Sunday School, and the Mutual Improvement Associations.

In regard to Sacrament Meetings, it was to be understood that the Sacrament must be administered and passed to the congregation by the Priesthood and that it would not be proper for local people who do not hold the Priesthood to perform the service that Deacons perform of passing the Sacrament to the congregation.  In other words, it will be necessary for the Elders to handle the Sacrament, although, as is done elsewhere, the Sacrament may be passed from one to another on the benches by the individual members.

Elder Williams was cautioned to be very, very careful in regard to procedure and policy among these Nigerian people.

It was decided to set Brother Williams apart as President of the Nigerian Mission, and this ordinance will be taken care of later.  It was also stated that the First Presidency should be Brother Williams’ contact in all matters pertaining to the mission; that in other words, Nigeria should not be attached on one of the missions at the present time.  Elder Williams said that it had been decided to leave here for this mission on October 11.  He mentioned that there are in other areas of Nigeria about 40 Latter-day Saints, white people, all told.

Elder Williams mentioned that the missionaries who were originally assigned to go to Nigeria with him had completed their missions elsewhere, that since returning home, however, they have indicated their readiness to go to Nigeria if the Brethren wish them to do so.

Thurs., 2 Sept. 1965:

“Utah State University – Negro’s Application for Housing in David O. McKay Living Center

President Tanner reviewed a conference with President Reed Bullen relating to the application of a Negro student for living quarters in the David O. McKay Living Center at the Utah State University in Logan.  The letter asked if the McKay Living Center discriminates against race.

President Bullen expressed need for a statement of policy.

President Tanner read a letter by the manager of the David O. McKay Living Center addressed to the applicant which explained that reservations for accommodations in these dormitories have been filled since late in July, but that accommodations are still available in the men’s housing quarters.  The letter included a paragraph stating that the McKay Living Center does not discriminate against race or religion, though preference is given to members of the Church because the dormitories were built by the Church to house its members and that the occupants are expected to conform to Church standards.

The sending of the letter was approved.

Thurs., 16 Sept. 1965:

‘8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency with Presidents Brown and Tanner.  Some of the items discussed were:

Negroes – Demonstrations by NAACP and Others at Conference Time

After a rather lengthy discussion of rumors from various sources regarding a possible demonstration by Negroes who would be imported here under the auspices of the NAACP at Conference time we decided to meet Mayor J. Bracken Lee, the Chief of Police, Governor Rampton, and possible General Watts of the Utah National Guard.”

Fri., 17 Sept. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Negroes – Rumors Regarding Demonstration by NAACP Members

Upon invitation, Mayor J. Bracken Lee, Assistant Chief of Police Marvin Butterfield, and Homer Holmgren, City Attorney, met with the First Presidency.  President N. Eldon Tanner excused.

We discussed rumors regarding a possible demonstration by Negroes at the October Conference.  These city officials reported that they are prepared to handle any situation that should arise.  I said that Negroes and others should not be permitted entrance upon the Tabernacle Grounds, or in the Tabernacle proper if carrying placards; otherwise, if they are peaceful there would be no objection to their entrance to the grounds or admittance to the Tabernacle.  Brother Kirton, Church attorney, will be prepared to notify the police in case of need.  The First Presidency will arrange to give counsel and instruction to our people to remain quiet and avoid anything that would cause a disturbance.  It was the unanimous sentiment that this Negro demonstration matter is merely rumor, although it was agreed that we should be prepared for any emergency.  (See minutes of First Presidency meeting for this day for details of this discussion.)

Following the departure of the above-named persons, we continued with the regular matters before us.”

Thurs., 14 Oct. 1965:

“8:15 a.m.

Met with President Nathan Eldon Tanner.  President Brown is en route to visit Missions and Stakes in the South Pacific.  We considered the following:

Nigeria – Visit of LaMar Williams to

It was reported that LaMar Williams is ready to go to Nigeria, and the question has been raised as to whether he should be set apart as Mission President.  I said that I had informed Brother Williams, through my secretary Clare Middlemiss, that he is not to be set apart as a Mission President, nor is he to do any baptizing in Nigeria at this time.

President Tanner stated that it is his understanding, and he so explained to Brother Williams, that he is to go to Nigeria to confer with the government and ascertain if he can secure a permanent visa.  He will be accompanied by a young elder from Canada, Elder Wright.  President Tanner also told Brother Williams that it was his understanding that I did not want him to baptize anyone there or organize the Church in any way unless and until he could get a permanent visa.  The suggestion was also made that Brother Williams should inquire while there as to how to make application for registration of the Church in Nigeria, make a study of the entire situation, and return and give his report.

I said that that is exactly right.  President Tanner further stated that he had told Brother Williams that in the event he secures a permanent visa, which should take only a few days, he should return to get his family and then go back to Nigeria, but rather than have Brother Wright return with him, he should stay with one of the Church member families there until Brother Williams returns to Nigeria.  In the event Brother Williams does not get the permanent visa, Brother Wright will go on to South Africa.  I agreed to this arrangement.

Thurs., 4 Nov. 1965:

9:45 a.m.

Left for the Temple.

10:00 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

Was in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.  It was a long meeting.

One important matter which we discussed at length was the Negro problem and the assignment of LaMar Williams to Nigeria.  (See minutes of this discussion which follow.)

Negro Problem – Assignment of LaMar Williams to Nigeria

(Excerpts from Minutes of Council Meeting held in Salt Lake Temple, Thursday, November 4, 1965.)

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley mentioned the work of Brother LaMar Williams, who is in Nigeria, and said he had received a telephone call from Sister Williams who had told him that she had some reason to believe that Brother Fleming, a colored man who works in the Hotel Utah, who is a member of the Church, may have some connection with NAACP, and she expressed the thought that we should be very careful regarding the information we give him.  Secondly, she wanted to know about her husband LaMar’s trip to Nigeria, and when he was going to move his family there.  She explained that Brother Williams is making arrangements to get permanent visas for himself and family with the thought that they would move there right after Christmas if he can get the visas.  She further reported that day before yesterday she learned that he was negotiating with the office of immigration, and he thought that he would have a favorable response.

Elder Lee commented that most of the Twelve have had occasion to be somewhat anxious about Brother Williams’ connections in Nigeria, that they had talked about this in their Council meetings many times.  He mentioned that Brother Williams had accepted invitations to speak at fireside groups, special interest groups, etc., and the subject they had asked him to speak about was his proposed mission to Nigeria.

Elder Lee said that Evan Wright, the former President of the South African Mission and one who had lived in South Africa for some years, had told him (Brother Lee) that he was shocked on one occasion to hear Brother Williams say that in his (Brother Williams’) judgment the Negroes should receive at least the Aaronic Priesthood.  Brother Wright said that if that statement were made in South Africa, or if they learned about it down there, it might close up our missionary effort in South Africa because there is a very strict policy of segregation.

Elder Lee further stated that Brother Williams had met him a couple of months ago on the sidewalk and said that he wanted to talk with him about the kind of organization he should set up in Nigeria.  Elder Lee had told him that there is no other organization for us to set up but the Church organization, and that he should talk to the President of the Church about anything that was to be done there.

Elder Lee said he wondered if this long delay in getting a permanent visa may not be evidence that the Lord is not ready to have this work done, and what he was concerned about is that if we go there with the NAACP as alert as they are to try to find something on the Church to warrant a demonstration, that if they learn that we baptize some Negro people and then have to send White missionaries to perform the ordinances of the Gospel, it could result in serious consequences, as to them it would indicate that we are considering the Negro as a second-class citizen.  He thought that to go there and do proselyting among the Nigerians would be about as dangerous a thing as we could do.

Elder Lee also referred to the work that had been done in bringing Nigerian students to attend the BYU, some of whom have been baptized while here, and that these students are attending through the help of a number of our brethren who have put up the money.  He said this had created a social situation at the BYU, bringing a half a dozen Negro students in the midst of 18,000 of our own students.  He stated that the Executive Committee had had little understanding of it, that it had never come to their attention, that it presented a program which it seems is going forward without proper permission, and that with Brother Williams working among these people in Nigeria, undoubtedly others will come, as many in fact as they can find money to support.

Elder Hinckley mentioned that he had been given to understand that it was the decision of the First Presidency that Brother Williams was not to encourage any more of these scholarship students.

President Tanner said that during the past six months arrangements had been made to take care of three of these students through collections, and that another student is there, making four all told; that one of the leaders who calls himself a Latter-day Saint, has sent another student from over there, and he is providing his own expense.  He also stated that he understood two of these students have been baptized, perhaps three, and that Brother Williams had been definitely told to discourage any others from coming.  He thought that had been the practice during the past three months.

In regard to the matter of Brother Williams’ going there, President Tanner said Brother Williams had met with the First Presidency and discussed this possibility and was given approval to get his visitor’s visa, he having been carrying on correspondence with these people quite regularly, that probably a year or a year and a half ago, Brother Williams was told by the First Presidency that we should not do anything further toward getting visas, that it was up to the people over there to get them, and they have been working on them.  Recently Brother Williams received a letter from some man in the government telling him he could get a visitor’s visa, and if he would go there, they thought they could get him a permanent visa.  Brother Williams was told that he could go on this Visitor’s visa and endeavor to get a permanent visa, but he was not to do any baptizing or proselyting, that he could meet with these people while there and find out whether he could get a permanent visa.

President Tanner further stated that a young man by the name of Wright, who is a Canadian and has been called on a mission, was appointed to go with Brother Williams — he being Canadian it is not necessary that he have a visa.  Brother Wright was called to fill a mission in the South African Mission, but was permitted to go with Brother Williams as his companion to Nigeria, and in the event a permanent visa could not be obtained, he was to go on to his mission in South Africa.  Brother Williams was instructed that he should do no baptizing and no proselyting, that while there he was to determine whether or not he could get a permanent visa and then was to return home.

Elder Lee mentioned a discussion held in the Council some few years ago as to whether or not we should gather the Negro members here in the valley together and give them a little chapel and set up a branch for our Negro members, that at first they seemed enthusiastic about the possibility, that they had not gone far, however, in talking about the matter until word came from the NAACP that the Church having planned now to take a step forward, they were demanding that the church bring them in as full-fledged members with the Priesthood and all.  It was then that Brother Howells and another Negro Church member advised that in their judgment we had better let the whole matter drop.

Elder Petersen commented that this was right, that the NAACP had sent a committee of three or four Negro men and one white woman to the Council of the Twelve office demanding that they be permitted to organize this group for us.  Elder Petersen said that personally he would like to see Brother Williams called home and kept home, and that we proceed no further with this program.  He thought it would do us great damage.

Elder Benson said he shared the feeling of the Brethren who had expressed themselves on this question, that he was confident in his own mind from a study he had made of the Negro question that we are only seeing something being carried out today that was planned by the highest councils of the communist party twenty years ago, and that Martin Luther King is an agent, if not a power in the Communist party.  He said that this whole thing is being directed and supported and promoted by agents of the Communist party, that the Negroes are being used in this whole question of Civil Rights, integration, etc., and that the NAACP are largely made up of men who are affiliated with from one to a dozen communist-front organizations, and he thought they would do anything in their power to embarrass the Church.

Elder Benson thought we ought to be very careful what we do in the Negro field, whether it be in Nigeria, here, or any other place in the world, and he felt that so far as Brother Williams is concerned, his work in Nigeria should be terminated and he be brought home to report.

Elder Petersen, referring to the young Canadian who is accompanying Brother Williams, Brother Wright, expressed the hope that he would not be sent to South Africa after his stay in Nigeria, that his experience in Nigeria might upset the situation in South Africa, particularly if they thought we were favoring the Negroes in their problems.  He expressed the hope that Elder Wright would be assigned in England or somewhere else.

Elder Lee referred to his visit to South Africa three or four years ago, at which time he was instructed to endeavor to increase the church’s quota of missionaries, and the Prime Minister there had said that because the Archibishop of the Episcopal Church having proselyted among the Negroes there and having criticized their national policy regarding the Bantu, all foreign missionaries were stopped from coming there, including our missionaries, until there could be a complete investigation.  He said their investigation had indicated that we were not proselyting among the Bantu nor violating the tripartite policy; therefore, we were permitted to have a quota and he made the statement to Brother Lee and Brother Fischer that we had been fairly treated because of our attitude toward this situation.  Elder Lee said he was also told by a number of Saints that government investigators had made inquiry as to what the Church was doing among the native Bantu.  In other words, they moved among our people to see if the truth were being told by our Church leaders, and finding that we were not working among them nor favoring them, they permitted us to have a quota of sixty missionaries, and now, plus our local missionaries, we have, including those sent to Rhodesia, 75.  Elder Lee said he came back recommending that we do nothing about it, that we leave it as it was and that it would not be wise for us to agitate it at the moment.

Elder Hinckley mentioned that Brother Layton Aldredge who recently returned from presiding over the South African Mission had expressed the fear that if we took an interest in the Negroes it would jeopardize our position in South Africa.

Elder Petersen moved that Brother LaMar Williams be brought home at once, and that we assign Wright to one of the missions in Great Britain.  This motion was seconded by Elder Stapley and unanimously approved.

Negro – Policy of Not Giving the Priesthood to any Man with Negro Blood in his Veins, if definitely Proved, to be Adhered to Until the Lord Gives Another Revelation Changing this Practice

Problem of Priesthood Ordinations in Brazil – Cannot Prove there is Negro Blood

Elder Kimball stated that as he was leaving the Brazilian South Mission the other day, President Turner told him that they had in the mission 2,400 men and boys who hold no Priesthood, and that this is related to the Negro problem.  He said that he had been told by his predecessor apparently that he was not to give the Priesthood to any man or boy who could not prove that he did not have any colored blood in him.  He said those people have not done any Genealogical work.  Few of them know their ancestors beyond their grandparents, and it is impossible for them to prove that they do not have Negro blood.  Elder Kimball referred to a statement made by President McKay when he was in South Africa some years ago to the effect that if it could not be proven that they have Negro blood, the Priesthood might be given to them.

It was agreed that a copy of President McKay’s statement on this subject should be given to each of the members of the Twelve for their information and guidance.

Ruling Given by President McKay When Visiting South African Mission in 1954

(Excerpts from Minutes of Council Meeting held in Salt Lake Temple, Thursday, February 12, 1954.)

In reporting his visit to the South African Mission, President McKay mentioned that he had called the Elders together with President Duncan, and after due consultation, had suggested the following:

‘That until the Lord gives us another revelation changing this practice established anciently and adopted in our day, we will follow the policy that any man who has Negro blood in his veins cannot be given the Priesthood, that until a new revelation comes the Church will observe the policy of withholding the Priesthood from men of Negro ancestry.  Therefore, when they find evidence of a Negro strain in an individual, to please explain to him that the blessing of membership, including the partaking of the Sacrament and the renewing of his covenants weekly, is his, but that he cannot receive the Priesthood.

‘Now I am impressed that there are worthy men in the South African Mission who are being deprived of the Priesthood simply because they are unable to trace their Genealogy out of this country.  I am ‘Impressed that an injustice is being done to them.  Why should every man be required to prove that his lineage is free from Negro strain, especially when there is no evidence of his having Negro blood in his veins.  I should much rather make a mistake in one case, and if it be found afterwards, suspend his activity in the Priesthood, than to deprive ten worthy men of this blessing.  There is a misunderstanding regarding the application of your Genealogical work, President Duncan.  You have page after page, I notice, of Genealogical records in which men cannot trace their Genealogy out of this Country, yet who show no trace whatever of Negro blood.  We recommend that from now on in Africa you may treat people just the same as we treat them in South Carolina or in Washington, or in New York, or in Salt Lake City, or in the Hawaiian Islands.  Unless there is evidence of Negro blood, you need not compel a man to prove that he has none in his veins.  However, as a precautionary measure, all cases of ordination to the Priesthood, Aaronic and Melchizedek, should be referred to the Mission President.’

In reporting this matter to the Council, President McKay said that that was his recommendation.

President Stephen L. Richards said that he thought it was a marvelous, inspired statement, as it was reported to the First Presidency in writing before President McKay returned home.  He moved that the Council support the statement of President McKay with reference to this matter of tracing the ancestry of South Africans in order to be eligible for the Priesthood.  LeGrand Richards seconded the motion.  The motion was unanimously approved.

3:35 p.m.

Returned to the apartment from Council Meeting.  We had a long meeting, but very worthwhile.  I was physically weary when I arrived in the apartment, but thankful I had had the privilege of meeting with the Brethren.”

Tues., 9 Nov. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

First Presidency Meeting with all Four Counselors Present for the First Time

Held a meeting of the First Presidency, at which meeting all four Counselors were present for the first time since Presidents Smith and Isaacson were set apart as Counselors.

Nigeria – Return of LaMar Williams

President Tanner reported that acting upon the decision of the First Presidency a cablegram was sent to LaMar Williams last Thursday telling him to return immediately and asking that Elder Wright who was with him report to the British Mission.  Brother Williams returned home by way of Great Britain accompanied by Elder Wright, who reported to President McConkie, who is substituting for President Robinson, and that Brother Williams then returned to Salt Lake.  Brother Williams called on President Tanner yesterday and would like to make a report to the First Presidency.  It was decided to ask Elder Williams to report tomorrow morning at 8:30 in the Church Administration Building.

Wed., 10 Nov. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

The regular meeting of the First Presidency was held.  President Brown asked to be excused.

Nigeria – LaMar Williams Reported Trip to

Brother LaMar Williams met with the First Presidency this morning in their meeting and gave a long report of his visit to Nigeria.  As this report is recorded in the minutes of the First Presidency, I am including the report here.  (See minutes following.)

Elder Williams was excused from the meeting at 9:45 a.m. and we then held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.

Wednesday, November 10, 1965

Report on Nigeria

Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency

Held Wednesday, November 10, 1965, at 8:30 a.m., in the First Presidency’s Office

Present:  Presidents David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson

LaMar Williams’ Trip to Nigeria

Elder Williams reported to the First Presidency his recent visit to Nigeria where he was received graciously by government officials.  He mentioned that he and Brother Wright who accompanied him were met by Mr. Oko who was waiting at the airport and were taken to his residence, that they were greeted at regional headquarters where a special dinner was provided for them.  The following morning, Sunday, Mr. Etim took them in his official car 160 miles to his home town of Oyo, and there they were introduced to the commissioner of the province, Mr. Edoh, and they had several meetings with these gentlemen.  They expressed a desire that we set up our headquarters in the city of Uyo, about 45 miles from the place where they thought they would have their headquarters, remained there for a week, and Sunday, October 31st, Mr. Etim furnished his car and driver for them to attend meetings with the Nigerians who want to become members of the Church.  The minister of international affairs, his secretary and the premier last Saturday arranged with the chief of police to extend their visas for another 90 days.  Brother Williams said that they had arranged to meet with the chief of police Monday afternoon next at 2:00.  He said the secretary of state came to them, said that he was next in command in the regional government and is the manager of churches in the Abak district, and that if we would agree to set up Church headquarters in his area he would go to the premier and recommend permission be granted for the registration of the Church and that he would arrange for them to have their visas.  Brother Williams said that these people are all negroes, that Nigeria is completely governed by negroes, and that they could not have treated him more fairly, that the people in Abak want the church headquarters there, the people in Uyo want the headquarters there, and the people in Aba want the headquarters there, and the same in Port Harcourt.  Elder Williams said that in the meantime they became acquainted with the prosecutor of the state and spent an evening with him and met with him on several other occasions and gave him a tract that explained the Church to him.  He said all these people with whom he dealt speak English, that this man had been trained for twelve years in London as a lawyer.

Elder Williams said that when they got to Enugu, which is the capitol of eastern Nigeria, they were informed that there was a lawyer to take care of the incorporation of the Church, that is, to assist in registering the Church under the name of the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop.  He said this man turned out to be the secretary of state, Mr. Gill, and they went over the articles of incorporation and their requirements step by step.  Mr. Gill said that there would be no problem, that he would personally see that the corporation was registered.  The secretary of state informed Brother Williams that he would take him to the capitol of Nigeria, Lagos, 500 miles distant, to see that the Church was registered there and that they would receive permanent visas so that Brother Williams could bring his family and could start things off right.  Elder Williams said things were moving satisfactorily until he received a telegram which was brought to him by the secretary to the minister of state telling them that he was to come home immediately.  The secretary of state did not want Brother Williams to leave in the middle of things.  Brother Williams told Mr. Oko, who had been spearheading things, that he did not know why he was being called home but that he must return at once.  Mr. Oko said that he knew that he would be back again and that is where he left things.  Elder Williams said that he went to the chief of police and asked for an extension of his visa and was told not to worry about it, that if he wanted to come back any time they would see that he got permission.  Elder Williams then took Elder Wright with him to England and left him with Bruce McConkie, who is in charge of the British Mission at the present time in the absence of O. Preston Robinson.

Brother Williams said that there is an attorney in Port Harcourt very friendly to the Church by the name of S.M. Ojukwu, and he is a minister of parliament in Lagos, and said that his services are at our disposal.

President Brown asked who is signing the document for the registration of the Church and Brother Williams said that no one has signed it yet but that he gave a copy of the articles of incorporation plus the power of attorney given him by Brother Robert M. Dyer to Mr. Adeyanju Osijo in Lagos.  Brother Williams said that while he was in Enugo he was told that that is where he should file and had a second copy of the article with him which he left with Mr. Gill the state prosecutor.  Mr. Gill, he stated, knows that he has returned home and will proceed at any rate.

President Brown asked if they were going to hold the recording of the registration of the documents until Brother Williams got back, and he said he had contacted the barrister in Lagos but that the state prosecutor, Mr. Gill, is holding it in his custody.  In other words, there is a copy of the registration documents in both government headquarters and in the hands of an attorney in each instance.

Referring to the meeting with the people Elder Williams said there were 406 people present and that he and his companion were showered with lovely gifts, that government officials were there, the local judge of the court, and a man who served as interpreter who has just graduated from the University of Colorado with a doctor’s degree in philosophy, a very well educated Nigerian.

Elder Williams stated that the people there, including these officials whom he met with, understand that they cannot hold the priesthood but that they can have activity in the Church, that they are expected to do the leg work of the priesthood, conduct the services and do the teaching and things of this kind.  President McKay mentioned his understanding that several of the groups over there are carrying the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.  Brother Williams said they go by that name, that he had seen signs in front of their churches in English giving that name.  President McKay then asked if it is clearly understood by this man and his groups that they are not authorized to hold the priesthood.  Brother Williams said that they know and their own officials know that they cannot hold the priesthood, they know that they are not officially members of the Church, they carry the name of the Church and teach the doctrine but that they have not been baptized.

The question was asked by Brother Isaacson as to what Brother Wiliams thought would be their reaction a little later when they learn that they must be presided over by white people, and wondered if they would not be rebellious.  Brother Williams said that his feeling is that those within the Church will accept the Church as our people have done everywhere.  He thought that perhaps trouble might come from without and there are some within who might present problems, that there are some within the Church who are not altogether satisfied but he thought that this was because we have not given them anything to do.  President Tanner stated that it was his feeling when he was there that a white man in Nigeria has no influence.  Those attending the Church would be negroes and there would not be any class distinction in the congregation in those areas.  He thought that so far as this generation was concerned we would have no trouble unless it should come from the outside, but in the next generation when we are sending whites in there to direct activities, he thought there would be danger of the young people rebelling.  President Tanner mentioned that the man who is the head of the largest number of groups, 4,000 members, had said when he talked to him and told him that all ordinations had to be performed by one holding the priesthood and had authority, ‘Yes, that is why we want you here.’  President Tanner had asked him if he understood that he could not hold the priesthood and he said he understood that clearly but that there would come a time when they would hold the priesthood in this life or the next life, and if it is in this life the Lord would let them know.  In answer to President Isaacson’s inquiry as to what about the man who doesn’t have that intelligence, Elder Williams said that it would depend on how the situation is handled, that they want the white man to come in there, they have great love and respect for Americans, and they want us to be at the top.  He mentioned that none of theses people smoke or drink and that they are morally clean.  Elder Williams said in meeting with these people he asked them a number of questions about the Church and was surprised at their wonderful understanding of the Church organization, its origin, etc.  It was explained that it is not our intention to go there to proselyte but to organize those who have applied for membership.

In answer to President McKay’s question as to how many people there are who belong to these groups, Brother Williams said it was somewhere between 7,000 and 20,000.

It was mentioned that some of these people practice polygamy.  Elder Williams said that he had told these people that inasmuch as polygamy is legal in that country they would not be required to discard their wives but that they would not be permitted to take additional wives.  He said it was his understanding that President McKay had so ruled.

Brother Williams referring to the secretary to the premier who had been responsible for some antagonism toward our coming there previously said that he has been changed, and the secretary is a different man now although they all know the records of the past and they were familiar with the article that appeared in the newspapers not long ago in opposition to our entering Nigeria.

Referring to the matter of holding the priesthood Elder Williams said that the rank and file of the people who want to be members of the Church do not hope to hold the priesthood.  They are just the same as those in the Catholic and other churches.  They do not anticipate holding leadership in the Church.  The question was raised about these people moving to America if they became members of the Church.  Elder Williams said we need have no worry on this score, that there is a close family relationship, that Nigeria is built around the tribes and families, etc., and that they would not wish to go elsewhere.  Referring to the matter of polygamy it was stated that only men in high positions as a general rule, wealthy people, are polygamists, that polygamy is permitted by the government but the rank and file of Christian churches do not permit polygamy.

Brother Williams suggested that it might be a good thing for one or more of the General Authorities to go to Nigeria and look the situation over before the final decision is made.  He referred to the blessing that was given him by the President when he was set apart as the presiding elder there in which he was promised that the government would be made to feel kindly toward the Church and the members of the group.  He said that when he went there the first time they were opposed to the Church but now they have come to feel kindly towards us, that he had wondered how he could meet the heads of the government and make them feel kindly toward us, that now, however, he had been invited into the homes of the very top members of the government and his blessing had been fulfilled.  Mention was made of the fact that we have about ten families in Ibadan who are visiting professors with their families and who are very fine professional men; also that we have five students at the BYU, three of whom have been baptized, and they are all A and B students.  President McKay raised the question as to whether these people show any desire to marry in the Church.  Brother Williams said that he had discussed this question with some of the government officials and explained our attitude toward intermarriage and they had agreed with him wholeheartedly that Nigerians should marry Nigerians, Chinese, Chinese, etc.  He said that he also advised them that we feel that Mormons should marry Mormons, Catholics, Catholics, etc., and that they agreed with this sentiment also.

(Elder Williams was excused from the meeting at 9:45)

The First Presidency then discussed the question as to what the Church should do in regard to Nigeria.  There was read to the brethren for their information a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve held in the temple Thursday last, November 4th.  After hearing this discussion as reported in the minutes and giving the matter careful consideration, it was the unanimous sentiment of the brethren of the Presidency that for the present we should postpone any attempt to carry out a program in Nigeria, that we should leave the situation as it is.  The brethren indicated their approval of this decision by unanimous vote.”

Tues., 23 Nov. 1965:

Negroes – Priest with Negro Ancestry Cannot be Used

Consideration was given to a letter from President Ariel C. Merrill of the Monterey Bay Stake reporting that there is a young man in the Pacific Grove Ward, Leland James Mandigo, who was recently baptized in the Church, and subsequently ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood.  In recent correspondence with his mother, the young man learned that one of his great-grandparents was a Negro.  The question is now raised as to what should be done.  It was the decision of the First Presidency that this brother cannot be used as a Priest nor advanced in the Priesthood, and that a proper notation should be made on his membership record.

It was also decided that the General Authority who next visits the Monterey Bay Stake should sit down and talk with this young man in an effort to make him feel all right about the matter.

The meeting of the First Presidency then concluded.”

Thurs., 2 Dec. 1965:

Nigeria – Missionary Work

In giving my report, I told the Brethren that the matter of the proposed missionary work among the Nigerians had given me considerable worry.  I asked the Brethren to think about the question and to be prepared to discuss the whole matter as a Council at a later date.

I then stated that I think now is not the time to open up missionary work in that country, even though there is a strong feeling among the people there that they would like the Church to be represented.

I then read to the Brethren a letter received from Mr. O.J. Oko of Uyo, East Nigeria, dated November 8, 1965, urging that ‘Elder LaMar Williams be returned to Nigeria immediately.’  I mentioned the visit of Brother Williams, and his return home because of the cablegram which the First Presidency had sent to him.  I said that several thousand people in Nigeria have taken the name of the Church, and call themselves members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that the government has changed its attitude toward us.

I asked the Brethren to give the matter careful and prayerful thought so that it may have consideration later.

Wed., 12 Jan. 1966: 

“9:30 to 12:30 p.m.

Held a long meeting with the Brethren of the First Presidency.  President Smith was excused for a meeting in the Temple with the Twelve, and President Hugh B. Brown was absent, in Arizona.  Many general matters were discussed, among which were the following:

Negroes – Temple Work of Member now married to Non-member Negro

Consideration was given to a letter from Helga Bartz de Dwing, also a letter from Bishop Karl-Friedrich Suckow and Counselors of the Berlin-Nord Ward, these letters having reference to the problems involved in this sister’s marriage to a Negro.  She became a member in 1961, received her endowments in 1963, and was divorced from her former husband in 1956.  She has subsequently married a Negro non-member, and has been told by the Bishopric that no further Temple visits would be allowed her, and that because of her marriage to a Negro her Temple endowments are ineffective.

It was decided to write the Bishopric asking that they inform this sister that the fact of her marriage to a Negro does not cancel her endowments; that, however, under the circumstances she should not be recommended to the Temple for further ordinance work.  The Bishopric also are to be told that any children born of this marriage cannot hold the Priesthood; however, there is no reason why she cannot be active in the Ward and Stake.

Fri., 25 Mar., 1966:

Egyptian Converts – Priesthood Status of

Mention was made of a memorandum that had been received from Henry Christiansen of the Genealogical Society indicating that an Egyptian girl who is attending the University has manifested an interest in the Church and the question has been raised as to whether Eqyptians should be considered as having Negro blood.

I referred to the decision made by me while in South Africa some years ago to the effect that unless there is good evidence that the individual has Negro blood, he should be considered as entitled to receive the Priesthood and Temple blessings if otherwise worthy.

Tues., 5 July 1966:

Negroes – Individuals with Negro Blood May be used as Officers in Auxiliaries

In a letter from Spencer W. Kimball, dated June 27, he presents a question raised by President Jesperson of the Andes Mission as to whether members of the Church with leadership ability who have Negro blood may be used as Superintendent of the MIA or of the Sunday School, or whether they may teach in the various Auxiliary organizations.

We decided to answer Brother Kimball that these people may be used in the auxiliaries in leadership positions, but in no capacity where the Priesthood is required.

Tues., 27 Sept. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

Met with Presidents Hugh B. Brown, Nathan Eldon Tanner, and Joseph Fielding Smith in a regular meeting of the First Presidency.  We first took several recommendations of the committee appointed to pass upon reinstatement and restoration cases.

Temples – Sealing to Parents of Children with Negroid Blood

After considering all the facts presented regarding the desire of a couple who have been sealed in the Temple to have sealed to them two children with Negroid blood, I indicated that I could see no objection to the sealing being done.”

Sun., 13 Nov. 1966:

“9:00 a.m.

President Ernest L. Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University called at the apartment.

Sunday, November 13, 1966


2.  Patriarch Eldred Smith’s address to the students at BYU:

I had with me a copy of Eldred Smith’s address to the students at BYU on November 8 and read to the President that part that had to do with the Negro.  I told the President that I had considerable doubts as to whether that part of the speech should be printed, and that Brother Lee had suggested that I see him directly about it.  The President directed that no part of the address be printed.  I commented that I couldn’t understand why some people didn’t have better common sense, and the President remarked, ‘Neither do I.’

Wed., 14 Dec. 1966:

“Negroes – Baptism for Dead by Colored Girl

We discussed two or three items, one of which was contained in a letter from Bishop Kenneth L. Woodward of the Arden Ward, American River Stake, stating that the youth in the American River Stake frequently have opportunity to attend the Oakland Temple by means of Stake excursions to do baptisms for the dead.  He mentioned a young colored girl in his ward, 12 years of age, who is a baptized member, faithful in her Church activities, and inquires if there would be objection to permitting her to participate in these excursions and to do work for the dead.

We agreed that there would be no objection, if she is otherwise worthy, to granting her permission to do baptismal work in the Temple for the dead.

Tues., 20 Dec. 1966:

Nigeria, Registration of the Church in

President Tanner called attention to a letter to the First Presidency from A.J. Oko of Nigeria, reporting that the Church has been registered with the federal government in Nigeria, and stating that a photostat copy of the registration certificate will be forwarded to us later.  Mr. Oko states that the Church is gaining strength in Nigeria.  He mentions the need of school teachers for their secondary schools, and suggests that some of our people be sent there to help them in their secondary schools, and also other missionaries.

We were agreed that we cannot do anything about this at the present time.  President Tanner will prepare an answer to the letter. 

Wed., 26 Apr. 1967:

Negroes – Adoption of Negro Children

Attention was called to a letter from Bishop Blaine D. Bendixsen of the North Jordan Fourth Ward stating that an Elder and his wife are considering legally adopting two Negro children.  They have two children of their own.  The Bishop asks for counsel on the matter.  He inquires if the couple will be able to have these children sealed to them in the Temple.

We decided to answer the Bishop stating that they should discourage such an adoption.”

Wed., 24 May 1967:

“8:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith were present.  Among matters taken up were:

Negro Question – Statement Made in Press by Stuart Udall, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

Mention was made of Secretary Stuart Udall’s article which appeared in the Dialogue Magazine, and has been published in the press regarding the Negro question.  President Brown mentioned that Rex Campbell and Lowell Bennion had called on him in his office yesterday.  They felt that the Church should make an official declaration as to its present position with regard to the Negro inasmuch as there is so much comment throughout the Church and elsewhere regarding the negro question, particularly in view of Secretary Udall’s recent statement.  It was also mentioned that the question will no doubt be a live one during the next year or longer, particularly if Governor Romney runs for nomination as President of the United States.

In discussing the matter, we did not feel that anything was to be gained by making an official declaration on the subject.  We discussed the status of the Negro and the attitude of the Church from the beginning.  I said that ‘as the Presidency of the Church we have the right and the authority to give the blessing of the Priesthood, and that means all the rights and authority that go with the Priesthood.  More than that, we have nothing to say.’  I said that this word of the Church, that it is our position and that as a Presidency we must stand on it.  It was our sentiment that no official statement on the matter should be published at this time.  (See following copy of letter received from Stuart Udall and a copy of his article which he enclosed; also newspaper clipping relative to his article.)

On this question, the following from the Prophet Joseph Smith was found in the Documentary History of the Church, Vol. II, page 438 (1836):

‘The curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the decrees of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do His own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.’

Wednesday, May 24, 1967

May 16, 1967

Dear President McKay:

For many years the question of the status of the Negro in our church has been for me (and, I suspect, for many other Latter-Day Saints as well) an agonizing issue.  The hopeful events of recent years — most notably the visible enlargement of human brotherhood, and the spread of the ecumenical spirit among the religions of the world — have served to heighten my own concern over this question.

I have, at last, decided to speak out on this subject.  The essay enclosed will appear in public print in the next few days as a letter-to-the-editor in the next issue of DIALOGUE Magazine.

I want you to personally know that I have expressed myself with humility and utter honesty — and always with the prayerful thought that my action will, in the long run, help, not harm, the church.

Most sincerely,

Stewart L. Udall

Secretary of the Interior

President David O. McKay

Office of the First Presidency

47 East South Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah 84111

Wednesday, May 24, 1967

An Appeal for Full Fellowship For the Negro

by Stewart L. Udall

For more than a decade we Americans have been caught up in a revolution in thinking about race and human relationships.  The Supreme Court has wisely and effectively related the Constitution to the facts of life in the 20th century; three Presidents and five Congresses have laid new foundations for a society of equal opportunity; most of the churches, with unaccustomed and admirable militance, have enlisted foursquare in the fight for equal rights and higher human dignity.

The whole future of the human race is now keyed to equality — to the ideal of equal opportunity and of equal civic rights and responsibilities, and to the new dignity and freedom which these would bring.  The brotherhood of all men is a moral imperative that no religion and no church can evade or ignore.  Enlightened men everywhere see now, as their greatest prophets and moral teachers saw long ago, that brotherhood is universal and indivisible.

It was inevitable that national attention would be focused on what critics have called the ‘anti-Negro doctrine’ of our Church.  As the Church becomes increasingly an object of national interest, this attention is certain to intensify, for the divine curse concept which is so commonly held among our people runs counter to the great stream of modern religious and social thought.

We Mormons cannot escape persistent, painful inquiries into the sources and grounds of this belief.  Nor can we exculpate ourselves and our Church from justified condemnation by the rationalization that we support the Constitution, believe that all men are brothers, and favor equal rights for all citizens.

This issue must be resolved — and resolved not by pious moralistic platitudes but by clear and explicit pronouncements and decisions that come to grips with the imperious truths of the contemporary world.  It must be resolved not because we desire to conform, or because we want to atone for an affront to a whole race.  It must be resolved because we are wrong and it is past the time when we should have seen the right.  A failure to act here is sure to demean our faith, damage the minds and morals of our youth, and undermine the integrity of our Christian ethic.

In her book, Killers of the Dream, the late Lillian Smith — whose life was exposed to all the warping forces of a racist culture — wrote these words:

‘I begin to understand slowly at first, but more clearly

as the years passed, that the warped, distorted frame

we have put around every Negro child from birth is

around every white child also.  Each is on a different

side of the frame but each is pinioned there.  And I

knew that what cruelly shapes and cripples the person-

ality of one is as cruelly shaping and crippling the

personality of the other.’

My fear is that the very character of Mormonism is being distorted and crippled by adherence to a belief and practice that denies the oneness of mankind.  We violate the rights and dignity of our Negro brothers, and for this we bear a measure of guilt; but surely we harm ourselves even more.

What a sad irony it is that a once outcast people, tempered for nearly a century in the fires of persecution, are one of the last to remove a burden from the most persecuted people ever to live on this continent.  The irony is deepened by the circumstance of history that the present practice of the Church in denying full fellowship to the Negro grew out of troubles rooted in earlier pro-Negro policies and actions.  It is well known that Joseph Smith held high ideals of universal brotherhood and had strong pro-Negro leanings that were, in a true sense, prophetic.  And it is well known that in the beginning the Church accepted Negroes into full fellowship until this practice offended its anti-Negro neighbors.  It then settled for a compromise with its own ideals based on a borrowed superstition that the Negroes are under a divine curse.  This anomaly is underscored by the fact that the Church has always enjoyed excellent relations and complete fellowship with all other races.  (How different have been our associations with the American Indians, the Spanish-speaking peoples, the Japanese and Polynesians!)  What transformations might take place in our spiritual and moral energies if we were to become, once again, moral leaders in improving the lot of the Negroes as we have strived to do with the natives of the South Seas?

At an earlier impasse, the Church, unable to escape history, wisely abandoned the deeply imbedded practice of plural marriage and thereby resolved a crisis of its own conscience and courageously faced the moral judgment of the American people.  In 1890 for most Church leaders polygamy was a precious principle — a practice that lay at the very heart of Mormonism.  Its proscription took genuine courage, but our leaders were equal to the task.  By comparison, the restriction now imposed on Negro fellowship is a social and institutional practice having no real sanction in essential Mormon thought.  It is clearly contradictory to our most cherished spiritual and moral ideals.

Every Mormon knows that his Church teaches that the day will come when the Negro will be given full fellowship.  Surely that day has come.  All around us the Negro is proving his worth when accepted into the society of free men.  All around us are the signs that he needs and must have a genuine brotherhood with Mormons, Catholics, Methodists, and Jews.  Surely God is speaking to us now, telling us that the time is here.

‘The glory of God is intelligence’ has long been a profound Mormon teaching.  We must give it new meaning now, for the glory of intelligence is that the wise men and women of each generation dream new dreams and rise to forge broader bonds of human brotherhood.  To what more noble accomplishment could we of this generation aspire?

Wednesday, May 24, 1967

Udall Asks LDS To Reexamine Negro Doctrine

By Wallace Turner

New York Times Writer

Palo Alto, Calif. – A demand that his church resolve its Negro issue has been made by Steward L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, a lifelong Mormon and descendant of pioneer members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

‘This issue must be resolved – and resolved not by pious moralistic platitudes but by clear and explicit pronouncements and decisions that come to grips with the imperious truths of the contemporary world,’ Udall wrote in a letter to Dialogue, a magazine founded 18 months ago to provide avenues of discussion outside church control for devout Mormons.

Printed in S.L.

Udall’s letter arrived as a surprise about two months ago, said Eugene England, one of two managing editors.  England is on the staff at Stanford University, as is G. Wesley Johnson, the other managing editor.  The magazine, which is edited here and printed in Salt Lake City, has a circulation of about 7,500.

The Udall statement was printed in the letters section of the summer issue, said England.

Johnson commented that ‘we will probably have a lively response.’  There are about 2 1/2 million Latter-day Saints.

Udall’s comments were seen among observers sensitive to internal strains among the Latter-day Saints as creating new problems for Gov. George Romney’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Avoided Criticism

The Michigan governor, also a member of a pioneer Mormon family has avoided criticism of the church position on Negro participation in church affairs.

In response to a request for comment, Gov. Romney issued a statement in Lansing, Mich., in which he said the Udall statements were ‘written only as an expression of his viewpoint as a member of the church.’

Said Romney:

‘In light of the fact that church doctrine is not determined by the attitude and expression of the individual members or the leadership, he knows, as do all other informed members of my faith, that his method of accomplishing the religious object he seeks cannot serve any useful religious purpose.’

Leadership Positions

  The Mormons welcome persons of all races into membership, but they withhold from Negroes membership in the Priesthood orders to which virtually all other adult male Mormons belong.

This effectively bars Negroes from any position of leadership in the church, since service in the Priesthood orders is the avenue for advancement.  No Negro could hold the title of Bishop, for example, and be the leader of a Mormon congregation.

In his letter, Udall remarked on the ‘unaccustomed and admirable militance’ with which other churches have supported Negro drives for equal rights.  He said it was inevitable that his own church’s doctrine on Negroes would be examined, ‘for the divine curse concept which is commonly held among our people runs counter to the great stream of modern religious and social thought.’

He demanded that the issue be resolved.

‘It must be resolved because we are wrong and it is past the time we should have seen the right,’ he wrote.  ‘My fear is that the very character of Mormonism is being distorted and crippled by adherence to a belief and practice what denies the oneness of mankind.’

Udall recalled Mormon persecutions:  ‘What a sad irony it is that a once outcast people, tempered for nearly a century in the firest of persecution, are one of the last to remove a burden from the most persecuted people ever to live on this continent.’

Doctrinal Change

He said the LDS Church had shown its willingness to make change in its ability to accept the sociological disruption of great doctrinal change in the 1890s by abandoning polygamy ‘a practice that lay at the very hear of Mormonism.’

‘By comparison, the restriction now imposed on Negro fellowship is a social and institutional practice having no real sanction in essential Mormon thought,’ he said.  ‘It is clearly contradictory to our most cherished spiritual and moral ideals.’

Church Teachings

Udall recalled that his church teaches that one day the Negro members will become fully able to participate in church affairs.

‘Surely that day has come,’ he wrote.  ‘All around us the Negro is proving his worth when accepted into the society of free men.  All around us are the signs that he needs and must have a genuine brotherhood with Mormons, Catholics, Methodists, and Jews.  Surely God is speaking to us now, telling us that the time is here.’


Three members of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they had ‘no comment’ concerning Secretary Udall’s letter in Dialogue.

Contacted were Pres. Hugh B. Brown, Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, and Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith.

The Salt Lake Tribune – Friday, May 19, 1967″

Tues., 25 Jul., 1967:

“Note by CM

President McKay disturbed over racial riots which have broken out in the country, especially the one now raging in Detroit.

(See newspaper clippings following; also see Friday, July 28 — National Day of Prayer — Statement by First Presidency.)”

Sun., 6 Aug., 1967:

“Note by CM

The nurse reported that Brother Isaac Stewart tried to get in to see President McKay as early as 7 o’clock this morning, but the security officers in the hall would not allow him to go in. He waited out in the hall until President Hugh B. Brown came at 7:45 a.m.

7:45 a.m. 

President Hugh B. Brown came to the apartment this morning and informed me of the precautionary measures that are being taken to guard Temple Square. He was accompanied by Isaac Stewart, President of the Choir.

He said that word had come to the Chief of Police (Finnis) from two “reliable” sources thet a group of Negroes, he labeled “rabblerousers”, had arrived in the city several days ago. They are carrying machine guns and grenades, according to the sources, and are threatening to destroy or damage Temple Square and its buildings.

I told President Brown that everything possible must be done to guard that sacred spot. President Brown said that no one but Choir members will be allowed on Temple Square this morning, and each one will be identified before letting them through the gates.

Later it was reported that nearly 3,000 visitors and tourists were disappointed when they were unable to attend the 1981st nationwide CBS broadcast of the Choir this morning.

(See newspaper clippings following.)”

Fri., 1 Sep., 1967:

“Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency

Held Friday, September 1, 1967, at 11:00 A.M., at President McKay’s Home in Huntsville

Present: Presidents David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner and Joseph Fielding Smith. President Thorpe B. Isaacson absent on account of illness.

Negro Problem

President Broom mentioned that in the meeting of the Council reference was made to the recent scare we had regarding a possible Negro disturbance. He said that these riots are going on all over the country and that we are very vulnerable in the general headquarters of the Church, the Hotel Utah, the Temple Square, and the approaches to the temple from the parking terrace. As conditions are now, people can enter the garage from Main Street or State Street and can enter the Administration Building without any question, and once they get into the garage there would be no great problem in getting into the temple through the tunnels. It was thought that we should have some trained police or FBI men on guard at strategic points at all times, even though there may be some expense involved, to see that undesirable persons do not get into the parking garage or upper rooms of the Administration Building or into the temple. President Brown said that the brethren of the Twelve wanted this matter presented to President McKay this morning to ascertain his feelings regarding employing men to be stationed at strategic points to be on guard all the time. This would apply also to the gates to Temple Square and the tabernacle.

President Tanner stated that the final recommendation of the Council was that we have the right kind of person or persons, who are trained in such matters, make a survey and bring us a recommendation as to what we should do, and that the Presiding Bishopric, who are in charge of the grounds, should be directed as to what they should do in the matter of security measures.

President McKay said he thought that this should be done. It was agreed that the Presiding Bishopric should be asked to make this study and come back with a report.

In this connection it was mentioned that the further question had been raised as to the wisdom of asking the brethren of the General Authorities to have unlisted telephone numbers, in other words, that their phone numbers should not be in the telephone directory; also that we should discontinue announcing in the newspapers the names of visitors to stake conferences and the dates when conferences would be held for the reason that people with improper motives could take advantage of this information by burglarizing the homes or otherwise making trouble for the families of the brethren. It was agreed to ask the Presiding Bishopric to follow through on these matters and make their report. (See copy of excerpt of Council minutes on Security Measures for Church Properties which follows.)

“(Excerpt from Council Minutes of Thursday, August 31, 1967.)

Security Measures for Church Properties

Elder Richard L. Evans referred to the alert we had sometime ago regarding possible rioting or trouble on Temple Square. He mentioned that notwithstanding the situation at that time, we do not appear to have taken measures for security in case of trouble, that there are no guards to protect our Tabernacle grounds, the Temple, the entrance to the Church Office Building, particularly the entrance into the building from the garage, that those inclined to do so could perhaps go through the tunnel from the garage into the Temple.

The Twelve in discussing the matter this morning suggested that we confer with the FBI, Police Department, or other agencies to see what kind of security measures should be taken. Mention was made of a metal door that can be let down from the ceiling just outside of the tunnel entrance to the Temple, but no one knows just how to lower the door, nor who is responsible for it.

Elder Evans also raised a question as to the wisdom of publishing in the press the mission tours of the Brethren, the Stake Conference assignments, etc., that people reading in the paper information to the effect that the General Authorities and others are to be out of town could take advantage of this opportunity to burglarize the homes or otherwise create trouble. It was also suggested that consideration might be given to taking the names of the General Authorities out of the telephone book, that they might have unlisted telephone numbers. It was thought if this were to be done, it should be uniform. Elder Benson mentioned that his number is unlisted.

Elder Evans said that even if it costs tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it, we should not be neglectful in taking proper measures to protect our buildings and properties and our people. Mention was made of the fact that this matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishopric, and that it should be called to their attention. President Brown said that the Counselors were meeting with President McKay tomorrow morning, Friday, and while there the matter would be brought to his attention for discussion and action. Elder Lee asked that the Brethren be notified of such measures as may be decided upon.”

Fri., 22 Sep., 1967:

“Did not hold a meeting of the First Presidency today.

11:45 a.m. 

Elder Ezra Taft Benson came over to the office and interrupted the meeting long enough to discuss with me the subject of the address he would like to give at the General Conference. He briefly talked about the plight of the Negroes in this Civil Rights Issue, and how the Communists are using the Negroes to further their own schemes to foment trouble in the United States. He said that he would talk on this subject from the viewpoint of bringing peace in our country instead of uprisings of the Negroes in riots, etc.

I told Brother Benson that under these circumstances, he may go ahead with his subject.

Tues., 21 Nov., 1967:

“9:00 a.m.

Held a meeting with the First Presidency in my office in the apartment. The following were present: Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith, and Elder Alvin R. Dyer. President Tanner left shortly before 10:00 a.m., to attend the Expenditures Committee meeting.

In addition to a number of routine correspondence matters, the following items were discussed and decisions reached:

Tabernacle Choir – Application for by Negro members 

President Brown mentioned that Richard P. Condie, Tabernacle Choir Director, has received an application from a Negro woman, member of the Church, to become a member of the Choir. Brother Condie feels that if she is admitted to the Choir, they should have at least one more Negro woman to be with her when they go on trips.

In discussing the matter, we felt that if we admitted one or two Negroes into the Choir, we would be opening the doors to other applications that might be received. President Tanner suggested that we take the attitude that every member of the Choir must be a member of the Church worthy of a Temple Recommend, in which event Negro women would be unable to come because colored people are not given recomrrends to the Temple. In this event, they could not say that we are discrminating.

Elder Dyer suggested that we say to this woman that we are not receiving applications at the present time, and we could then make certain that all members of the Choir are members of the Church in good standing and worthy of Temple Recommends. President Brown was asked to ascertain from Brother Condie how many non-members are in the Choir as well as those who could not receive Temple Recommends, and also what the repercussions would be if we were to release these people from the Choir.

Thur., 7 Dec., 1967:

We also had a long discussion on the question as to the services that the faithful Negro members, men and women, may perform in the Church, inasmuch as the Priesthood is not given to the men.

(See Council minutes of this day for details of discussion.)

Tues., 9 Jan., 1968:

“9:00 a.m. 

Held a meeting with Presidents Brown and Tanner and Elder Dyer. President Joseph Fielding Smith was indisposed, and President Isaacson is still confined to his home. Some of the matters discussed at this meeting were:

BYU – Inviting Negro Speakers at the School 

President Wilkinson said that they have had much pressure at the BYU from faculty members and others who would like to invite Negroes to speak to the studentbody; that, however, in accordance with my suggestion it had been suggested to the faculty that they not discuss the Negro question nor raise any discussion regarding the John Birch Society. This was about four years ago. President Wilkinson expressed the thought that if they could bring in some prominent Negro of the right kind to speak to the students, there would perhaps be no question. He mentioned in this connection Senator Brook of Massachusetts, formerly Assistant State Attorney General. President Wilkinson had made a check with Senator Bennett and Senator Moss and others regarding this man and had learned that he is not a crusader, and these people all say that they think it would be profitable to have him speak to the students sometime. I stated that this would meet with my approval, and the other Brethren concurred if it was thought desirable to invite Senator Brook to the BYU for this purpose.

Fri., 12 Jan., 1968:

Temple Sealings – Negro Children to White Couples 

President Tanner mentioned that sometime ago a ruling was made that where a couple had adopted Negro children, those children could be sealed to the adopting couple; that now a question comes to the following effect: A man married a Negro woman by whom he had a child. This woman died, and he married a white woman. He is now asking if his child or children by the former marriage with the colored worran may be sealed to him and his present wife, who is a white woman, after they have been properly adopted. President Tanner asked if the former ruling regarding sealing adopted children to white parents would include this situation. I said there was no reason why it shouldn’t.”

Tues., 16 Jan., 1968:

“8:30 a. m. 

Held a meeting with Presidents Tanner, Smith and Elder Dyer. President Brown has left for Palm Springs, California for a rest. President Smith is just back from a siege of the “flu”, and he seems to be better.

I felt well, but had difficulty with my hearing until I called the nurse to put a new battery in my hearing aid, after which I could hear perfectly and was able to participate in the discussions.

Negroes – Members Attending Priesthood Meetings 

Further consideration was given to a letter from W. Preston Cook, President of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Branch. The question submitted in the letter is whether or not two Negro brethren may attend the Senior Aaronic Priesthood class in the Priesthood Meeting as long as they do not participate in any Priesthood assignments.

The explanation is made that one of these Negro brethren takes care of a semi-invalid white brother, who cannot get along without help, and that he has taken care of him for the past twenty years. The letter also mentions that the semi-invalid brother is desirous of receiving the Priesthood, and the President of the Branch feels that he should be ordained.

It was decided to answer President Cook that under the circumstances these two colored brethren may attend the opening exercises of the Priesthood Meeting, and also the Elders Quorum class in the Branch with the understanding that they will not participate in any Priesthood assignments. It was also our sentiment that if the semi-invalid brother mentioned is worthy, he should be ordained an Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

Fri., 1 Mar., 1968:

“9:00 a.m.

Held a meeting with the First Presidency. Presidents Brown, Tanner, Smith, and Flder Alvin R. Dyer were present.

Some of the matters discussed were:

Negroes: Answering Letters Regarding Holding of the Priesthood 

We gave consideration to answering inquiries which come to the Church regarding the Negroes holding the Priesthood. We considered a letter that had been prepared to a Stake President; in which letter quotations were made from President Brigham Young and President Wilford Woodruff which refer to the pre-existent unworthiness of the spirits of Negroes in receiving the curse of Cain. President Brown said that since people do not believe in a pre-existence, such statements only lead to confusion, and he recommended that they be stricken from the letter. President Smith concurred, saying the less we say in these letters about this subject the better it would be, and that if we said anything by way of reference as to the reason for the Church’s stand, we should quote the passage from the Book of Abraham (P of GP, Abraham 1:26-27.)

I approved the deletion of the statements by Presidents Young and Woodruff, stating that the more we said about the subject, the more we shall have to explain, and that the statement should be clear, positive, and brief.

Fri., 5 Apr., 1968:

“9:45 a.m.

We arrived at the Tabernacle at 9:45 a. m. The building was crowded to over-flowing. How it thrills and inspires me to see the smiling faces of our faithful membe:rs of the Church. Their love and loyal support fills my soul with appreciation! For the first time I was unable to walk to the stand on rrry own, and had to be carried in the wheelchair to the stand.

10:00 a. m. 

At my request, President Hugh B. Brown conducted the session. In expressing greetings, of his own accord he made a statement in behalf of the Church regarding the assassination of the negro leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the other day in Memphis. He expressed his feelings that Dr. King was a man ‘who had dedicated his life to what he believed to be the welfare of his people — We pray God’s blessings upon his family, his friends, and those associated with him.'”

Tues., 9 Apr., 1968:

“9:00 a.m.

Did not hold a regular meeting of the First Presidency this morning; however, Brother Alvin R. Dyer called me and asked if he could see me, and I told him to come right over. He was at the office within ten minutes, and discussed the following matters with me:

Negroes — News Release of an Official Representative of the First Presidency Attending Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. — Negro Leader 

Brother Dyer informed me of the news release of an official representative of the First Presidency attending the funeral services of Martin Luther King, Jr., the representative being, presumably, President Brown. I told Brother Dyer that I knew nothing about this announcement. (See following copy of news release; See also statement given by President Hugh B. Blrown at April Conference. )

Wed., 1 May, 1968:

10:15 a. m. 

My secretary Clare Middlemiss came over for the purpose of giving me notes on the visit at 10:30 a. m. of Dr. Philo T. Farnsworth of Maine and other places in the East where he lives from time to time. I was very tired following the meeting of the First Presidency, but was glad to see my secretary who has not been over to my office for several days because the nurses had informed her not to come. Clare explained to me that Dr. Farnsworth has been ill for several months; that it seems as though he has suffered a slight stroke.

10:30 a. m. — Visit of Dr. Philo T. Farnsworth – World Famous Electronic Scientist and Mrs. Farnsworth

Dr. and Mrs. Farnsworth arrived promptly at the appointed hour in company with Brother Arch Madsen of KSL. Dr. Farnsworth seemed very frail, and his arm was in a sling; he having broken his wrist yesterday while visiting the canyons in Southern Utah. He has been ill for about a year, but is still active on some of his projects.

I tried to rise to greet Dr. and Mrs. Farnsworth, to which Dr. Farnsworth protested , but I finally was able to get to my feet to greet them and shake their hands.

Arch Madsen then said: “President McKay, this man has brought television to the whole world — his plans are followed everywhere. When he was sixteen years of age, he drew plans for both black and white and color television. He envisioned and invented it all. “

Dr. Farnsworth spoke up, and said: “I invented nothing — the ideas I had, and talent I had in electronics are a gift from a higher source. I have worked hard, but it was through inspiration. Without humbleness, my work would cease!”

Dr. Farnsworth then said his work is not confined to electronics; that this summer he is attending a symposium at Stanford University where they are working on a cure for cancer. “The cure is coming – not leukemia as yet, but it will come.”

He then said it is his desire to teach the youth of the Church that Science and Religion do not conflict. He said: “I believe that some higher power has guided me; I have felt it, and it guides all inventors.”

He said he was a personal friend of Albert Eienstein, the great scientist, and that he had great admiration for him, and commented that although he was not a member of our faith, that he thought he “would have been a member if it had not been for the death of his wife.” He repeated that there is no apparent conflict between science and religion, and said: “I want to teach the world that, and I believe it will answer some of the problems facing our young people.”

I said: “That is true, and I wish you would do that.”

Dr. Farnsworth stated that Mark E. Petersen has asked him to write something on this.

Mention was made of the doctorate that the Brigham Young University will confer on Dr. Farnsworth this June, and he said: “This will be the highlight of my life; Brigham Young University is my Alma Mater, and I have always wanted to come back to this school and give credit to them.” Then he said: “I have studied for two doctorates, and have received many honors, but each one makes me more humble, and when I have received the highest honor, the first thing I have felt is ‘Now I have to go back to the humble position I occupied before I started my studies for my doctorate and start anew.'” He said his two doctorates were “pretty hard to earn”, and that the third “will be the honorary doctorate from the Brigham Young University. “

Dr. Farnsworth also talked about the Negro problem, and said he had many “fine friends who are Negroes”; that they are good and are hard working. He said he feels that most Negroes do not understand our position on the Priesthood; that a lot of people in our own Church have not earned the Priesthood. At this point my secretary, Clare, told Dr. Farnsworth of the letter I sent sometime ago to Dr. Lowell Bennion on my feelings regarding the Negro. Dr. Farnsworth said that he would like a copy, and she promised to send him one through Arch Madsen who also asked for a copy. Dr. Farnsworth is planning to work with Arch Madsen in getting some material for television on the Negro question and said that he himself will appear on Television and talk about this subject.

Dr. Farnsworth turned to me and said, “I want to compliment you on your efficient secretary.” He asked how long she had worked for me, and was told that it is now over thirty years. He turned to Clare and said, “You are a lucky girl — the most lucky in the world — all that you have missed in life will come to you.” I spoke up and said: “She is wonderful — the best in the world; there is no better.” Sister Farnsworth commented: “I agree; I can tell!” Clare said: “All this makes me very thankful and humble.”

When Dr. and Mrs. Farnsworth arose to go, I insisted upon standing in honor of this great man, and said: “I am delighted we have had this visit. I am honored to meet you and Sister Farnsworth, and am glad that we have had this talk, and have been deeply interested in what you have told me. The Lord bless you both!”

Dr. and Sister Farnsworth thanked me, and seemed reluctant to leave as they slowly made their way to the door, with my secretary Clare accompanying them.”

Wed., 8 May, 1968:

“Held a meeting of the First Presidency in the office of my apartment in the Hotel Utah. Presidents Tanner, Smith and Dyer were present. President Brown still resting in California.

Some of the Matters discussed were:

Negro Question — Church Should Take a More Realistic Stand And

Not Be Evasive

President Dyer stated that he felt that we have taken a passive attitude on the Negro question, and that it has gotten us nowhere. He said he did not mean that we should take a vigilant attitude, but that trying to avoid conclusions has not prevented being reached by outside interests. He thinks that maybe we should chart a different course on the matter, as he felt sure the present course is not gaining for us what we had hoped it would. (See copy of President Dyer’s  Minutes on this discussion which follow)

“(Extract from President Dyer’s Journal on Discussion Held on the Negro Question)

I raised another question concerning the writings of a member supposedly in good standing, John W. Fitzgerald, who had figured in sending information to the Coach of the University of Texas at El Paso, and also to Floyd W. Millet of the Brigham Young University, concerning the Church’s stand with regard to the Negro which seemed to develop to an extent in the fact that the Negro students of the University of Texas at El Paso refused to compete in the Brigham Young University stadium at a recent track meet because, as they said, of the prejudice on the campus there for the Negro.

I pointed out that this is the same brother who had written letters to me, to Reed W. Nibley, and other Church leaders chastising, in writing, the position of the Church with regard to the Negro and also making certain remarks concerning the realiability of certain of the scriptures, for example the first five books of the Bible, which he claimed to be pure myth and fiction and placed in the Bible many centuries after the other writings had been compiled.

I mentioned the fact that I had discussed this brother before in the meeting of the First Presidency and it was decided that Elder Marion G. Romney would be appointed to investigate his stand and position with regard to these matters and then to report back to the First Presidency, but that to my knowledge, this report had never been made and also to my knowledge, Elder Marion G. Romney had never been asked to make such an investigation.

I commented that we have enough difficulty with non-members of the Church concerning the Negro problem and now we have to stand for the constant pot-shots at Church leaders, and now in sending communications to vulnerable places in the athletic world by this brother who is a member of the Church, supposedly in good standing, and who incidently is a Principal of the Morningside Elementary School in the Granite School District.

President McKay was vitally concerned about this whole matter and he said that the First Presidency, referring to the four, should undertake the responsibility of seeing to it that this matter was answered. And even though there was not sufficient time on this morning to discuss it further, the President as we left said this matter should be discussed further.

I ventured another thought before leaving that the cushioned remarks of the Church had not seemed to gain us any good will of those who are sponsoring the Negro question with regard to the holding of the Priesthood, and that perhaps the time had come for a more complete analyzation of the problem and a restatement of the policy of the Church, and by this I did not mean that we were to announce they were to receive the Priesthood, but we could discuss it in a more frank and realistic manner instead of the evasive and sometimes untrue manner in which we had endeavored to answer the questions concerning these problems. I repeat again in this Journal the vital concern which President McKay evidenced over this matter.”

Wed., 5 Jun., 1968:

“9:00 a. m.

Met with Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer. President Isaacson still confined to his home from a stroke. Among items taken up were:

Nigeria — Gifts Presented from Group of Natives in Accra Ghana 

President Brown handed to me a solid gold tie clasp for myself and a solid gold drum trinket for Sister McKay, which had come to him from LaMar Williams, who had in turn received them from Sister Virginia Cutler of the Brigham Young University who is presently teaching at the University of Legon, Accra, in Africa. She returned home for a two months’ vacation. These gifts were sent as a remembrance and expression of appreciation from a group of natives in Accra Ghana, headed by Dr. Mensah, who are converted to the Church even though they have not been contacted by missionaries. They hold Sunday School meetings and have their own little chapel with “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” painted in large red letters outside the building. Since there are no L. D. S. services on the area, Sister Cutler attends these services at times. They have requested and received some small shipments of Church materials such as Books of Mormon, Sunday School manuals, hymn books, and visual aids. They believe in all the things we teach and are pleading for membership. The matter of sending missionaries has been considered heretofore. (See prior years.)

Wed., 26 Jun., 1968:

“No meeting of the First Presidency held this morning.

Negroes — Dr. Sterling M. McMurrin’s (U of U Professor) Published Statement Criticising the Church for Its “Anti-Negro discrimination”, and also “Undemocratic Hierarchal Structure of the Church”.

President Dyer read to me a statement which was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday, June 22, 1968, giving an account of remarks made by Dr. Sterling M. McMurrin, Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Graduate School of the University of of Utah, in a speech given before the Salt Lake Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Utah Citizens Organization for Civil Rights.

Dr. McMurrin called attention to the illogical, impractical, and foolish stand of the Church concerning the Negro and stated that the Church had reversed its policy in not allowing its members to have freedom of thought, etc.

Some of the Brethren are very upset over Dr. McMurrin’s attitude toward the Church, and feel that he should be tried for his membership. He was under question several years ago when he openly made the statement to President Joseph Fielding Smith that he did not believe in the vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and made other remarks indicating his disbelief in the Church. However, President Dyer said that Dr. McMurrin has already “cut himself off from the Church”, and now that the Church is under such criticism regarding its stand on the Negroes holding the Priesthood, it would be unwise at this time for the Church to take steps to excommunicate Dr. McMurrin. Although I was disturbed over Dr. McMurrin’s statements and attitude, I made no commitment concerning this matter. 

(See following newspaper article containing Dr. McMurrin’s statements) 

(See Diary of July 16 for Discussion by First Presidency)

Negroes — Approval Given to Negro Employed at KSL to Marry White Girl – a Student at the BYU

It was also reported to me at this time that President Hugh B. Brown had received a visit from Darius Arden Grey, a Negro employed by KSL, who asked President Brown’s advice regarding his marrying a white girl, a student at the Brigham Young University. Her name is Katherine Farmer, an orphan from Idaho. Prior to keeping company with this girl, Mr. Grey had been going with a colored girl.

Arch Madsen of KSL confirmed the report that Darius Grey, a member of the Church, did ask President Brown about the matter, and that it was reported by Grey that President Brown had said, “I would rather have you married in the Church than out of the Church”, thereby giving his approval of the marriage. Arrangements were made for Dr. Quinn McKav. a professor at Weber College, to perform their ceremony. Brother Madsen said that he attended the wedding ceremony. It was also reported that Darius Grey is not as loyal to the Church as some think. One of the employees at KSL reported that he profanes at the office. He is not liked by some of the employees for his actions at KSL. A remark was made to him that in his attending and talking at various Church meetings he was helping the Church; and he answered, “Don’t worry, I’m using the Church. “”

“(Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Jun., 1968)


A former United States commissioner of education said Friday night he “personally deplore(s) the position of the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in both these matters:

“First, the policy and practice of the church in denying full fellowship to its Negro members, and, second, the failure of the church to engage responsibly in the move toward full civil rights for Negroes.

Dr. Sterling M. McMurrin, professor of philosophy and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Utah, made the remarks in a speech at Holiday Inn, 230 W. 6th South. He addressed a banquet  sponsored by the Salt Lake Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Utah Citizens Organization for Civil Rights.

‘Moral Deficiency’

His topic was “Negroes Among the Mormons.”

“For any church to deny full religious fellowship to an individual on grounds related essentially to his race or color is an almost unbelievable moral deficiency that deserves the most rigorous condemnation,” said Dr. McMurrin, who interjected that he is a member of the LDS Church.

He continued: “For a church that less than a century ago was aggressively committed to the achievement of social justice to have receded so far from the frontiers of social morality, while at the same time its political power and influence have materially increased, is nothing less than a major tragedy.

“The denial of full fellowship to Negroes is essentially the practice of withholding the priesthood from them and excluding them from the essential rites of the temple ritual . . . For a Negro to be denied these means that although he can be a member of the church, he cannot be a full-fledged Mormon.

“Many Mormons, including some among the leadership of the church, speculate rather freely in justification of the established policy of such anti-Negro discrimination. Sometimes, for instance it is held that the Negroes are descended from Cain and their dark skin is a curse, or an evidence of a curse, placed upon them by God because of Cain’s sin . . .

Speculative Notion

“The idea… is usually combined with another speculative notion, which sometimes stands alone, which relates to the Mormon belief in the existence of all individvals prior to this life. The Negroes, according to this view, were guilty of being something less than valiant in the pre-existence and this justifies their present status in the church. Some go so far as to hold that the present and past social and economic predicament of the Negroes is a just reward or punishment for their pre-earth sins.”

Dr. McMurrin said he found it “difficult to understand how people who are otherwise typically intelligent and moral can believe and defend such crude immoral nonsense, but it is nothing new for religion to be a perpetrator of both non-sense and immorality.”

No Corner on Either

“The Mormons have no corner on either of these—and, as a Mormon, I am pleased to say that these ideas and the various popular combinations of them have no official status in Mormon Church doctrine,” he said.

The former commissioner also hit upon:

—”The undemocratic hierarchical church with its seniority pattern or leadership, which developed especially after the Mormons came west and which makes it exceedingly difficult for ideals and attitudes that are shaped from common experience to find their way into concrete policies and actions having official standing.

—”The failure of the church in recent decades to preserve and cultivate the climate and techniques of serious self-criticism which it once had. Although there is far more freedom of thought and expression in the church than many suppose, except in rare local instances, there is no genuine invitation to thoughtful criticism of the church’s policies and practices. Loyalty to the church is judged too much in terms of acquiescence and obedience — not enough in terms of genuine commitment to its highest good.””

Tues., 16 Jul., 1968:

“Held a meeting of the First Presidency shortly after 9 o’clock this morning.

Some of the items discussed:

Negroes – Civil Rights in Georgia – Stake President Not to Participate 

We read a letter from President Wm. L. Nicholls of the Atlanta Stake who points out that Atlanta is a sort of headquarters for the Negro situation; that the march of the poor to Washington began there, and that Martin Luther King lived in Georgia. President Nicholls mentions that the ministers of various churches have expressed themselves from time to time on the civil rights question, and he asks for advice as to whether he should take an interest in the civil rights problem. It was agreed in our discussion that the Stake President should be encouraged not to participate in these activities, nor to openly oppose them, but merely to take a completely neutral stand in the matter.

Sterling McMurrin Case 

The discussion concerning the Negro led to the statements of Sterling McMurrin, Professor at the University of Utah, a member of the Church, which were recently published in the Salt Lake Tribune reporting a speech that Brother McMurrin had given to the N. A. A. C. P. wherein McMurrin had belittled and berated the Church for its stand in refusing to give to the Negro members of the Church their full rights in receiving the Priesthood. McMurrin also referred to the acquiescent following of the Priesthood and leadership of the Church; of the hierarchy of the Church not giving sufficient freedom of thought and action in speaking out upon such matters as were mentioned in his talk to the colored people.

President Dyer expressed his feelings regarding the Negro situation as it applies to the Church. He referred to a letter he had received from a man in Idaho concerning the giving of the Priesthood to the “Black Man”. In answering the letter, President Dyer took the liberty of pointing out four things pertaining to the Lord’s way of disciplining the various races of people and stated that it was not only the “Black Man” who was in the process of discipline, but in fact all of mankind, referring specifically to the Jew, the Lamanite, and also some 300,000 white men who hold membership in the Church who have not yet received the Priesthood simply because it is not time for them to receive it due to their own unwillingness to abide by the commandments of the Lord. He mentioned that according to those who attempt to stir up feelings against the Church for not giving the Priesthood to the Negro, they would have us ordain every man in the Church who becomes a member to the Melchizedek Priesthood regardless of his worthiness or understanding of its principles. It is the same principle that must be applied to the “Black Man” in the receiving of the Priesthood. President Dyer said he received a very satisfactory answer from this man who, no doubt, was a “Black Man”, stating that the answers were completely satisfactory to him.

President Smith spoke up and reported his experience with McMurrin years ago wherein he had openly admitted to him that he did not believe in the divinity of the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith. President Smith indicated that this man should be excommunicated from the Church.

President Dyer ventured the thought that if this were done it could

do the Church more harm than good, and perhaps in the eyes of the Lord, Sterling McMurrin has already been excommunicated from the Church on the records which are without question of greater potency than those which we keep among men where our methods are less complete and effective. He said he felt that we should state the truth as the Church believes it, and this would underrate and place at naught the statements that McMurrin has made; because he has made mistakes in his remarks to this people, both scripturally, morally, and factually.

I stated that I think we should be careful as to how we handle this McMurrin case and the Negro question.

Tues., 6 Aug., 1968:

“9:00 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency this morning. Presidents N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer were present. President Hugh B. Brown was out of the city, and President Thorpe B. Isaacson was absent on account of illness.

The following pertinent matters were discussed:

Negroes – Article Submitted to Improvement Era by Homer Durham

An article by G. Homer Durham prepared for the Improvement Era on the Negro situation was read by President Tanner. President Dyer felt that certain changes should be made in the article before it is published. He referred to the fact that Brother Durham isolates the Negroes and makes no reference to others who are in need of rehabilitation. He also stated that such a subject, if it was to be written, should be directed to all underprivileged, both white and colored.

I felt that Doyle Green should be asked to talk to Brother Durham and ask that he make the changes suggested.

Negroes – Statements Regarding Church’s Attitude in Era

Because of false reports circulating in different areas of the country concerning the Church’s attitude and position regarding the Negro, Doyle Green, Editor of the Improvement Era, asked if some statement regarding the Negro could not be approved by the First Presidency for publication in the Era. It was suggested by President Tanner and agreed that Brother Green should submit to the First Presidency the questions; then the First Presidency would determine whether or not an answer should or would be made.”

“(First Presidency’s Minutes of President Alvin R. Dyer’s Account of the Services Held in Missouri on August 3, 1968.)

Thurs., 14 Nov., 1968:

“Did not hold a meeting of the First Presidency, nor, upon advice of my doctor, did I attend Council Meeting.

Washington D. C. Temple — President Brown was not at the Temple meeting on this day so President Tanner therefore brought up the matter of approval given to the erection of a Temple in the Washington D. C. area. This approval met some reaction among some members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Lee stated that there wasn’t much that could be done about it, since it had been approved by the Presidency and this was like the Ogden and Provo Temples — the Quorum of the Twelve were merely informed that such were to be built. He stated that a Temple in Washington D. C. was perhaps the poorest location in the East because of the tremendous amount of criminal disturbance in that area and the many Negroes that live in Washington and suggested that perhaps the Valley Forge area out of Philadelphia would be a more suitable place for the erection of a Temple. Elder Mark E. Petersen seemed to sustain the feelings of Elder Lee. Elder LeGrand Richards stated that he felt that a Temple at Washington was a proper location to serve the concentration of members in that area and other areas as well that would funnel into that point.

The other members of the Quorum of the Twelve seemed noncommital and completely resolved to the fact that the President of the Church had made the decision for the erection of the Temple in Washington and therefore did not make any comments.

President Tanner stated that he was not present at the meeting when the decision was reached and could not therefore report on what took place. Since I had been in attendance, he asked me to make a report. I then stated simply that President Brown had brought the matter up after President Tanner had left and President McKay had permitted discussion on the matter and comments from members of the First Presidency and, after receiving them, had simply said that we should go forward with the project. (From Minutes of President Alvin R. Dyer)

Because of the feelings of Brother Lee and Brother Petersen, President Dyer suggested to President Tanner that the matter should be taken back to President McKay and that a re-confirmation be asked for on the project in light of their opposition to it. President Tanner thought that this should be done.

(See Diary of November 6 and November 13 for meetings on new temple)”

Fri., 15 Nov., 1968:

9:00 a. m. 

Held a meeting with Presidents Brown, Smith, and Dyer this morning.

The following items were considered:

Washington, D. C. Temple – Erection of — Announcement Made to

Newspapers and Other News Media

President Brown said that he was not at the temple yesterday when they discussed the proposed erection of a temple on the site near Washington, D.C. He said he was informed that a report had been given to the Council of the action of the First Presidency authorizing the erection of a temple on this site in Maryland just adjoining Washington, D.C. President Brown reported that he understood that Elders Lee and Petersen both raised a question as to the negro situation in that area; that a very large percentage of the population in Washington, D. C., 60% or 70%, is negroid, and that there is much criminality in that area. President Brown said that while the First Presidency had taken an action on the matter it was felt that inasmuch as some of the brethren of the Twelve had raised a question he thought maybe it should be brought back to the First Presidency for confirmation. President Dyer who was present at the meeting in the Council confirmed what President Brown had said regarding the question that had been raised relative to the criminal element and also the negro population. He said that Elders Lee and Petersen both thought that the Washington area was not the proper place for a temple. He said, however, that in this particular area where it is proposed to erect the temple there are no negroes.

After listening to the comments by the brethren, I said that we should not hesitate to go forward. President Brown asked me if it would be all right to ask Henry Smith to release the story and I said, “Yes”.

(See following newspaper clippings of announcement; also President Dyer’s Minutes which are included; also see copies of letters and answers thereto to President J. Willard Marriott, and to Stake Presidents in the Washington area.)

Thur., 5 Dec., 1968:

“8:30 to 9:45 a. m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency in my office in the Hotel Utah Apartment. Presidents Tanner and Dyer were present. Presidents Brown and Smith were absent; President Brown because of illness, and President Smith because of being in attendance at the Quorum of the Twelve meeting in the Temple.

Comment by President Alvin R. Dyer: “President McKay was very determinate in his decisions and expressions, and seemed vitally interested in and took part in all that transpired at this meeting.”

The following matters were discussed at the meeting:

Negroes – Worthy Negro Members May Be Baptized For The Dead

Attention was called to a letter from President Reuel E. Christensen of the Manti Temple reporting that a bishop and stake president in one of the BYU Stakes had inquired if they could send colored people who are members of the Church in good standing residing in their wards to do baptismal work for the dead in the temple.

I ruled that worthy negro baptized members of the Church should be permitted to do baptismal work for the dead if they desire to do so.”

Fri., 3 Jan., 1969:

“At 9:45 a. m. I met with President Tanner, President Smith and President Dyer. President Brown is spending some time away from the office for the holiday Season.

The following items were discussed, among others:

Negroes — Tracing of Negro Blood

President Tanner presented a letter that had been prepared in answer to a letter from Bishop Graham Cahill of the Perth Fourth Ward, Perth Stake, regarding members of his Ward who have Negro blood. The Bishop asks how the Church traces Negro blood back to Cain. It was decided that the answer should be merely that the Church does not attempt to trace the ancestry of its individual members but leaves that to the individuals involved.

Negro Question in South Africa

The brethren reported to President McKay a discussion that was had in the Council meeting on Thursday last regarding the application of a black mail to be baptized. When Elder Romney was in South Africa some time ago President Badger of the mission made him acquainted with this man and at that time Elder Romney suggested to President Badger that he confer with the South African government authorities to ascertain what their views on the matter were, whether it would affect our missionary relationship in that land if we were to baptize this man. President Badger conferred with the government people and received word that it would be all right to baptize the black man but that there must be a complete separation between the blacks and the whites; in other words; that they could not come together in the same meetings. A question now presented by President Badger as to whether this man, if baptized, could have his black friends investigate the gospel looking forward to having them baptized also. The question was raised as to whether we would be justified in denying a man baptism who is converted and asks for baptism. It was also reported that Elder Benson had mentioned that according to reports that are being received, negroes belonging to the Black Power organization are attempting to become members of the Church in order to gain information about the Church and to be better prepared to emphasize their claim that the Church discriminates against the negroes by not giving them the priesthood. President Tanner said that the feeling of the brethren in the Council meeting was that we should make it clear to these negro people in South Africa that they are welcome in the Church but as long as the government takes the position that there must be a complete separation between the whites and the blacks, we think it unwise to bring then into the Church. In discussing the matter the brethren mentioned that baptized Negroes couldn’t hold a sacrament meeting without white men holding the priesthood being there to bless and administer the sacrament, that as a matter of fact they couldn’t hare baptismal services without a white man doing the baptizing, and other meetings likewise. President Tanner asked President McKay if he felt that the attitude of the brethren of the Council was in agreement with his thinking, and he said yes for the present.”

Wed., 12 Feb, 1969:

“9:00 a. m. First Presidency Meeting in President McKay’s Apartment. Present were: Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer.

Among the matters discussed were the following:

Priesthood – Ordaining Solomon Islanders to the Priesthood

Attention was given to a letter from President R. Wayne Shute of the Samoan Mission addressed to Elder Henry D. Taylor asking for a policy statement regarding ordaining Solomon Islanders to the priesthood. He specifically mentions Ellice Islanders. It was agreed that there should be a close scrutiny of anyone in these areas who was being considered for ordination to the priesthood, and that each case should stand on its merits to make as certain as possible that they do not have Negro blood, that where there is definite evidence of Negro blood they should not be so ordained.

Thur., 13 Mar, 1969:

“8:45 a. m. Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment with Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, and Alvin R. Dyer present. President Joseph Fielding Smith meeting with the Twelve.

Among the matters discussed were the following:

Improvement Era–Subject–Ham and the Priesthood

President Dyer referred to a letter from Doyle Green that had been received with a manuscript written by a member of the Improvement Era staff, William T. Sykes, on Ham and the priesthood. President Dyer asked if the brethren thought it advisable to print the article in the Improvement Era. He said that he had read it carefully, that it purports to explain why the curse of the dark skin was placed only upon one of the sons of Adam instead of all four of them, and goes into a lot of detail as to how this actually took place. He said it is a very well written article. The brethren felt that the timing for such an article is wrong inasmuch as it involves the Negro question Brother Dyer will advise the Era people to this effect.

Thurs., 29 May, 1969:

“9:00 a. m. 

Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment. Present were Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner and Alvin R. Dyer.

Among the matters discussed were:

Marriage – Interracial

President Tanner called attention to a letter from Harvey Taylor, Administrator of Church Schools, with enclosures from Jesse E. Stay, Assistant Professor at the Church College of Hawaii. Brother Stay refers to a talk given at the College by Brother Bernard Brockbank in which he discussed the matter of interracial marriage and advised against it. It was explained that in Hawaii a large percentage of the marriages are interracial and it was felt the matter should be handled very discreetly in that area.

It was suggested that men like Brother Brockbank should be instructed to leave those questions alone, that they are too complicated for discussion, particularly in such areas.

Thur., Jul. 31, 1969:

9:00 a.m.  Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment.  Present were Presidents Hugh B. Brown and Joseph Fielding Smith.

Among the matters discussed were the following:

Negroes–Manner of Handling Negro Groups

Attention was called to a letter from Larry J. McEldowney, executive secretary of the Norwalk Stake, asking for suggestions as to what they should do if a group of Negroes came into a meeting and started making demands. It was decided to answer this brother that in such an event they should carry on as best they can and meet the situation the best way possible if and when it arises.

Wed., Sept. 10, 1969:

Lawrence and Llewelyn McKay came over and discussed with their father the Negro question.  President Alvin R. Dyer was also present.  (See President Dyer’s Minutes for Details.)”

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer on the visit of Roy A. Cheville, and the Negro Question.)

During the morning of this day, Roy A. Cheville, the Patriarch of the R.L.D.S. Church visited the office and had previously been in contact with Clare Middlemiss concerning an appointment with President McKay.

Clare Middlemiss called me to say that the appointment had been set up for Patriarch Cheville to visit with President McKay and suggested that I go with him, which I did.

As we reached the eighth floor of the Hotel Utah, leaving the elevator to walk toward President McKay’s apartment, we came in contact with Lawrence and Llewelyn McKay coming from the President’s apartment.  They said that the President was sleeping and that they had not disturbed him.

Patriarch Cheville said that he had to leave the City and that if he could just shake the hand of President McKay then the nurse or others could advise him that he had been there.

As we were admitted to the President’s apartment and went toward the President in his office, as he sat in the chair, Patriarch Cheville took hold of his hand and this seemed to rouse the President almost immediately.  We had a very brief visit and as I turned to go the President asked that I stay.  I stayed with him for a few minutes holding his hand most of the time.  As I turned to go, I noted that Lawrence and Llewelyn McKay, the sons of the President, had returned.  Lawrence pulled me aside and asked if he could speak with me.  He said they were going to talk to their father about the Negro question and would I stay and join with them.  I agreed.

Question Regarding Priesthood for the Negro

We sat in the President’s office, the President seeming quite alert and roused for the discussion to follow.  Lawrence explained that on the basis of his father’s statement to Sterling McMurrin some time ago, that the withholding of the Priesthood from the Negro by the Church was a practice and not a doctrine.  An article had been written for ‘Dialogue Magazine’ by a Brother Taggart, who is the son of the President of Utah State University, which had received more or less an endorsement by Llewelyn based upon the reported interview which President McKay had had with Sterling McMurrin.

This article seemed, in Lawrence McKay’s mind, to bring the whole Negro question regarding the right to hold the Priesthood into focus, and that if this truly was a practice and not a doctrine, as Sterling McMurrin had inferred from President McKay’s statement to him, then why was this not the time to drop the practice.

He asked his father if this was not perhaps the time to announce that the Negro could be given the Priesthood, which he alone could announce, and to do so now voluntarily rather than to be pressured into it later.

Lawrence asked the question, ‘What proof do we have that Negroes are descendants of Cain?’

I felt it my responsibility to make some comments concerning this vital matter and referred to the following:

1. That withholding the Priesthood from the Negro not only involved a practice but it was based upon a definite principle.

2. I traced briefly the history of the curse that had been placed upon Cain, that of a dark skin, as contained in Abraham 1:26-27, and also in Moses 7:22.  In the former scripture it was designated that they could not hold the Priesthood.

3. I called attention to the fact that in the ancient order of the covenant people they were forbidden to marry those of a black skin and that those who did have a dark skin were called the sons and daughters of men, whereas the others, who were of the covenant people, were referred to as the sons and daughters of God.

4. I also referred to the scripture reference which states that because the daughters of God had inter-married with the sons of men and vice-versa, that this caused the Lord to repent of his creation of men (the repent here means to a change referring to the need of a new beginning), caused the flood to come upon the earth to destroy all of mankind except Noah and his immediate family.  A woman who had been born under the curse, the wife of Ham, the son of Noah, was taken into the ark in order to preserve the lineage through which the particular spirits of this type of lineage could be born in the earth subsequent to the flood.

5. I referred also to the Book of Mormon, Third Nephi, 21st Chapter, regarding a prophetic revealed timetable for the people of the earth to receive the Gospel.  It clearly denoted that the children of Ephraim and Manassah, or the sons of Joseph ethnologically speaking, and as many of the Gentiles as would be called and come in and be numbered with the Children of Israel, would be the ones that would build the City of Zion and then the Lost Tribes would come out of their hiding place in the north, and following that, the Lord would commence His work among other peoples and nations of the earth.  Undoubtedly the Negro or the black people would be given the opportunity when this was accomplished to receive the full blessings of the Gospel and those who had died in the interim who had been privileged to receive it, could have the work done for them vicariously in order that none would go without this blessing finally who were worthy to receive it.

6. I related the experience which I had had with President McKay in Europe in 1961.  The reason for this experience developed from the number of white and black marriages that were found in Holland, and Belgium.  A number of these had come to my attention with the observation that the husbands were fine men, faithful in the Church, paying their tithing, but had been denied the Priesthood.  Because of the soul longing of their wives, it caused me to wonder as to when the time might possibly be for them to receive this.  So I discussed this matter with President McKay in his hotel room in London, telling of the many cases that had come before me.  His answer to me was that he knew many of the colored people were good and honorable people, but that only a revelation from God could open the way for them to receive the Priesthood.  He said that revelation had not yet been given, so it is therefore not the time.

7. I referred, in addition to the scriptures, to the statements of the early brethren of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith and others concerning this situation, and that it could be changed only as the Lord would direct through His Servant.  I mentioned the fact that because Cain had killed his brother Abel, the descendants of Abel would have to come forth, those who had been assitned to be born to his lineage, and receive their place, before the descendants of Cain could be so honored.

The article for Dialogue Magazine was again brought up.  Lawrence stated that he had a copy in his possession.  I asked if I could possibly obtain a copy I would be pleased to study it and make a report to the President.  President McKay asked that I do this.

Lawrence then stood up and said, ‘Perhaps, father, we had better leave this with you and you can think about it.’  I suggested that perhaps it could be brought up at a meeting of the First Presidency at a later appropriate time.  The President asked that this be done.

(The President’s Expression of Love)

As I left President McKay, he held my hand for quite some time and whether because of what I had said that morning concerning the principle of the Priesthood and the descendants of Cain, or for some other reason, I do not know, but he said that he loved me and that he always had.  This was a very wonderful thing to hear and I again affirmed to him that I loved him and recognized him as the Prophet of the Lord here upon the earth.

(Further Information Concerning Reasons)

In walking back to the Church Office, Lawrence advised me that President Brown had receive the original copy of the proposed Dialogue article and that President Brown had given him a copy and suggestee that he take up the matter in question with his father.  He then said that perhaps he was on the spot in providing me with a copy of the manuscript.  I immediately said, ‘Well, if President Brown has the control of it, I undoubtedly would not be given a copy.’  I felt then, as I said this, that I would never see a copy, but to my surprise, some time a little later, Lawrence came to my office with the copy which President Brown had given approval to turn over to me for study and report.  I said to Lawrence McKay that I was surprised that this was being done.  He said there was no problem.  I assume that he must have advised President Brown that President McKay had requested me to study the article and make a report.

Later I received a second copy, which is an original which had been given to President Brown, with a notation on it to please return to President Brown.

I have covered this incident in considerably more detail than is usually devoted to the Journal Record, but I feel that it is highly significant.  After having glanced through the article, I am convinced that it has many erroneous statements and concepts in it concerning the relationship of conditions that withhold the Priesthood from the Negro at the present time.

(End of Minutes quoted from President Dyer’s Journal.)”

Wed., Sept. 17, 1969:

Meeting of the First Presidency

The President was interested in reading the following items from the Minutes of the First Presidency’s Meeting, which meeting he was unable to attend:

Negroes–Article by Steven Taggart Regarding

President Dyer mentioned that he had read the article prepared for ‘Dialogue’ by Brother Steven Taggart, now deceased, and considered it one of the most vicious, untrue articles that has ever been written about the Church.  He said it is filled with untruths and vilifications.

Negroes–Article by Steven Taggart Regarding

When the Patriarch left President McKay’s apartment, the President’s sons Lawrence and Llewelyn came back and went into the living room where President McKay was and discussed this Taggart article which apparently Llewelyn had endorsed and it is so indicated in the manuscript.  President Dyer said that he stated that he would like to see the manuscript and the President stated that he would like to have him see it.  President Dyer received a copy of it from President Brown.  President Dyer said that the article is full of untruths.  President Dyer said that he is making a study of it and intends to show in black Taggart’s statements and in red what the true facts are and give the references.

Wed., Sept. 24, 1969:

9:20 a.m.  Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment.  Present were Presidents Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner.

The following matters were discussed:

Negro Question

President Tanner mentioned having received a letter from Dr. Reed P. Wahlquist who lives in this city and claims to be an active Latter-day Saint, pays his tithing, etc.  Dr. Wahlquist expresses concern because of the Church’s attitude toward the negro, and mentions that in conversing with President George Albert Smith’s son recently he stated that President Smith had said that categorically the Church’s position on the negro question was one of custom and not of revelation.  President Joseph Fielding Smith said: ‘He is wrong on that.’  President Smith further stated that the Pearl of Great Price is clear on the matter and that it has been accepted as scripture.  The brethren asked me if I wanted to make any ruling on the matter and I answered that I did not want to many any statement on the question this morning.

Tues., Sept. 30, 1969:

9:00 a.m.  Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment.  Present were Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer.

The following matters were discussed:

. . . . 

Negroes–Article by Steven Taggart Regarding

President Dyer reported that at the request of the brethren he had prepared an article in answer to Brother Steven Taggart concerning the origin of the priesthood in the Mormon Church.  President Dyer gave the original article that he had prepared to me and a copy to President Brown.  President Dyer commented that it would not be well to publish this material because it amplifies the scriptures and the revelations that have been received regarding the curse of Cain.  President Brown stated that the ‘Dialogue’ magazine had decided not to publish Brother Taggart’s article.  (Brother Taggart is now deceased.)”

Wed., Oct. 8, 1969:

“Note;  The following minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer I wanted included in my Diary of this day.  They concern the matter of succession to the presidency which President Brown discussed with Brother Dyer.  Also taken up was the Steven Taggart article regarding the Negro problem.”

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer on a meeting he had with President Hugh B. Brown.)

(Negro Problem)

I mentioned to President Brown that I had prepared a supplement to my analysis report on the Taggert Article which purported to show the synonymous condition of the family order (Patriarchal) and the priesthood, that the Lord used these two conditions synonymously.  This is what Cain rebelled against and Seth did not.  (See Moses, Chapter 6.)

President Brown said that this is another matter.  We should give the Negro the Priesthood, that we had only one scripture in Abraham that suggested otherwise.

I asked him if he had read the article which I had prepared and given to him, (which obviously he had not), which stipulates a number of passages in the Book of Moses, or the Inspired Translation of Genesis, by the Prophet which gives greater clarity to the reasons for our position with regard to the Negro, more so than the passage in Abraham.

He then stated that George Albert Smith stated that withholding of the Priesthood from the Negro was a practice.  ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘but a practice based upon principles that have been revealed from the Lord.’

President Brown then said, ‘We will wait and see what the next President of the Church will do.’

(He had tried twice of late to get President McKay to withdraw the withholding of the Priesthood from the Negro, but President McKay had refused to move on it.)”

Thur., Dec. 25, 1969:


Letter to all General Authorities Regarding the Holding of the Priesthood by the Negro

A letter composed by the Twelve and based on President McKay’s statement and thoughts and also thoughts of the other brethren signed only by Presidents Brown and Tanner was sent out on December 15, and read in many Ward meetings by the Bishops.

In this letter President McKay is quoted as follows:

‘The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goest back into the beginning with God. . . .

‘Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.’

President McKay has also said, ‘Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.’

(See copy of letter which follows)

Statement Made by President McKay to the Press at the Time of the Dedication of the Oakland Temple

In answer to reporters’ question ‘Would the Priesthood rule ever be changed?’  President McKay said: ‘Not during your lifetime or mine.’

Statement by President Brown

Unbeknownst to President McKay, President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency made a statement to a reporter of the San Francisco Chronicle, and it was published in the Salt Lake Tribune today under the heading:

‘LDS Leader Says Curb On Priesthood to Ease’

The article reads:

‘The Mormon Church’s denial of its priesthood to Negroes of African lineage “will change in the not too distant future,” according to Hugh B. Brown, one of the highest ranking officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lester Kinsolving, religious columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

‘President Brown, who is first counselor to President David O. McKay, told Mr. Kinsolving that admission of Negroes to the priesthood will come about “in the ordinary evolution of things as we go along, since human rights are basic to the church.”

‘When asked if he thought that this change would come about during President McKay’s presidency, he replied: “Well, that’s impossible to predict.  He’s ill right now.”‘

(See the following letters printed in the newspaper as a result of this statement by President Brown)

In the Tribune January 1, 1970 the following article appeared:

‘Church Policy on Negroes Told in Wards’

‘A statement by officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concering the church’s policy regarding the Negro is reported to have been sent to stake presidents, mission presidents and bishops last week.

‘President Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency, confirmed that such a statement was mailed to the church’s leaders.  He said that the statement was released by Elder Harold B. Lee, member of the Council of Twelve Apostles.

‘A spokesman for Elder Lee said the contents of the statement are not for release to the general public but were read to members of many LDS wards.’

December 15, 1969

To General Authorities, Regional Representatives of the Twelve, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, and Bishops

Dear Brethren:

In view of confusion that has arisen, it was decided at a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to restate the position of the Church with regard to the Negro both in society and in the Church.

First, may we say that we know something of the sufferings of those who are discriminated against in a denial of their civil rights and Constitutional privileges.  Our early history as a church is a tragic story of persecution and oppression.  Our people repeatedly were denied the protection of the law.  They were driven and plundered, robbed and murdered by mobs, who in many instances were aided and abetted by those sworn to uphold the law.  We as a people have experienced the bitter fruits of civil discrimination and mob violence.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired, that it was produced by ‘wise men’ whom God raised up for this ‘very purpose,’ and that the principles embodied in the Constitution are so fundamental and important that, if possible, they should be extended ‘for the rights and protection’ of all mankind.

In revelations received by the first prophet of the Church in this dispensation, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the Lord made it clear that it is ‘not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.’  These words were spoken prior to the Civil War.  From these and other revelations have sprung the Church’s deep and historic concern with man’s free agency and our commitment to the sacred principles of the Constitution.

It follows, therefore, that we believe the Negro, as well as those of other races, should have his full Constitutional privileges as a member of society, and we hope that members of the Church everywhere will do their part as citizens to see that these rights are held inviolate.  Each citizen must have equal opportunities and protection under the law with reference to civil rights.

However, matters of faith, conscience, and theology are not within the purview of the civil law.  The first amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’

The position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affecting those of the Negro race who choose to join the Church falls wholly within the category of religion.  It has no bearing upon matters of civil rights.  In no case or degree does it deny to the Negro his full privileges as a citizen of the nation.

This position has no relevancy whatever to those who do not wish to join the Church.  Those individuals, we suppose, do not believe in the divine origin and nature of the Church, nor that we have the priesthood of God.  Therefore, if they feel we have no priesthood, they should have no concern with any aspect of our theology on priesthood so long as that theology does not deny any man his Constitutional privileges.

A word of explanation concerning the position of the Church:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owes its origin, its existence, and its hope for the future to the principle of continuous revelation.  ‘We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.’

From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.

Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, ‘The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goest back into the beginning with God. . . .

‘Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.’

President McKay has also said, ‘Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.’

Until God reveals His will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will.  Priesthood, when it is conferred on any man comes as a blessing from God, not of men.

We feel nothing but love, compassion, and the deepest appreciation for the rich talents, endowments, and the earnest strivings of our Negro brothers and sisters.  We are eager to share with men of all races the blessings of the gospel.  We have no racially-segregated congregations.

Were we the leaders of an enterprise created by ourselves and operated only according to our own earthly wisdom, it would be a simple thing to act according to popular will.  But we believe that this work is directed by God and that the conferring of the priesthood must await His revelation.  To do otherwise would be to deny the very premise on which the Church is established.

We recognize that those who do not accept the principle of modern revelation may oppose our view.  We repeat that such would not wish for membership in the Church, and therefore the question of priesthood should hold no interest for them.  Without prejudice they should grant us the privilege afforded under the Constitution to exercise our chosen form of religion just as we must grant all others a similar privilege.  They must recognize that the question of bestowing or withholding priesthood in the Church is a matter of religion and not a matter of Constitutional right.

We extend the hand of friendship to men everywhere and the hand of fellowship to all who wish to join the Church and partake of the many rewarding opportunities to be found therein.

We join with those throughout the world who pray that all of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ may in the due time of the Lord become available to men of faith everywhere.  Until that time comes we must trust in God, in His wisdom and in His tender mercy.

Meanwhile we must strive harder to emulate His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose new commandment it was that we should love one another.  In developing that love and concern for one another, while awaiting revelations yet to come, let us hope that with respect to these religious differences, we may gain reinforcement for understanding and appreciation for such differences.  They challenge our common similarities, as children of one Father, to enlarge the outreachings of our divine souls.

Faithfully your brethren,


By Hugh B. Brown

N. Eldon Tanner

[This statement was published in the Deseret News–Church Section, on Saturday, January 10, 1970.]

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1964



Negroes are ‘certainly welcome’ in the Mormon Church, the president of the two-million member organization declared yesterday in Oakland.

‘Negroes can join the church as well as anyone else, but they cannot become members of the priesthood,’ said 91-year-old David O. McKay of Salt Lake City.

The priesthood ruling–based on complexities of church dogma on pre-existence and life in the hereafter–will not be changed ‘during your lifetime or mine,’ he said at a press conference.

McKay was in Oakland along with all the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for dedication services today, tomorrow and Thursday of the $7 million Oakland Temple at Lincole avenue near Mountain boulevard. . . .

Thursday, December 25, 1969



Special to The Tribune

SAN FRANCISCO–The Mormon Church’s denial of its priesthood to Negroes of African lineage ‘will change in the not too distant future,’ according to Hugh B. Brown, one of the highest ranking officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lester Kinsolving, religious columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Pres. Brown, who is first counselor to Pres. David O. McKay, told Mr. Kinsolving that admission of Negroes to the priesthood will come about ‘in the ordinary evolution of things as we go along, since human rights are basic to the church.’

Cause of Rift

When asked if he thought that this change would come about during Pres. McKay’s presidency, he replied:

‘Well, that’s impossible to predict.  He’s ill right now.’

The LDS racial doctrine was the cause of Stanford University recently severing athletic relations with Brigham Young University.

Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, president of BYU, charged this week that Stanford was therefore guilty of ‘religious discrimination on hearsay evidence.’

But Pres. Brown disclosed Wednesday that Willard Wyman, assistant to Stanford’s president Kenneth Pitzer, had contacted him one week prior to the severance of relations with BYU and that he had verified the racial doctrine.  Pres. Brown also disclosed that he had told Wyman that ‘The church is not prejudiced in any way but this one, but I think that will change.’

Some Misunderstanding

Yet Dr. Wilkinson said Wednesday:

‘President Brown told me that Stanford did not contact him before the announcement (of severing athletic relationship).  On two occasions, President Brown said he never knew about this until after it was over with; that Stanford had not contacted him until after the announcement.’

The BYU president concluded:

‘There has been a misunderstanding here because I checked with President Brown on this.  Maybe he thought I was asking about Stanford’s scheduling instead of Stanford inquiries about doctrine.  If Stanford did contact him on the athletic questions, my statement on the hearsay evidence must be modified–but Stanford never contacted me before making the announcement.’

Stanford Aides Silent

Stanford authorities declined to comment on Pres. Wilkinson’s statement.

Contacted later Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, Pres. Brown confirmed that he had been contacted personally by someone, presumable the Stanford University representative (Wyman), but could not remember whether it was before or after Stanford’s announcement about severing athletic relationship with BYU.

Thursday, January 1, 1970



A statement by officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning the church’s policy regarding the Negro is reported to have been sent to stake presidents, mission presidents and bishops last week.

President Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the First Presidency, confirmed that such a statement was mailed to the church’s leaders.  He said that the statement was released by Elder Harold B. Lee, member of the Council of Twelve Apostles.

A spokesman for Elder Lee said the contents of the statement are not for release to the general public but were read to members of many LDS wards.”

Fri., Dec. 26, 1969:

“I held no meeting of the First Presidency this morning.

9:30 a.m.  I met with President Alvin R. Dyer, Elder Mark E. Petersen, and Henry Smith regarding the Negro question.  President Brown made a statement to the press yesterday which has caused quite a bit of controversy.

(See President Dyer’s Minutes which follow.)

(President Alvin R. Dyer’s Minutes of a Meeting with President McKay including a preliminary conversation he had with Elder Mark E. Petersen)

While in my study in the early morning, I received a telephone call from Elder Mark E. Petersen.  He said that he had been in contact with Elders Harold B. Lee, Marion G. Romney, and Gordon B. Hinckley concerning an article that appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune on December 25, 1969.  This article of special writing by Lester Kinsolving, a religious columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, reported on a conversation which he had with President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency.  He reports President Brown as saying that the Mormon Church’s denial of its priesthood to the Negroes of African lineage will change in the not too distant future.  The article also states that, ‘President Brown, who is First Counselor to President David O. McKay, told Mr. Kinsolving that admission of Negroes to the priesthood will come about in the ordinary evolution of things as we go along since human rights are basic to the Church.’

The article refers to the rift between Stanford University and Brigham Young University.  The article also quotes from certain quotations from President Wilkinson involving President Pitzer and the alleged procedure that Stanford took in breaking off athletic relationships with the Brigham Young University.  The article quotes President Brown in this regard as saying, ‘The Church is not prejudiced in any way but this one, but I think that will change.’

Elder Petersen told me that President N. Eldon Tanner, who is vacationing in Hawaii with his family, had been called and was agreeable to a general press and news release of the policy statement concerning the withholding of the priesthood from the Negroes, prepared by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, and recently sent to Regional Representatives, Presidents of Stakes, Bishops of Wards, and Presidents of Missions.  By making such a press release it would counteract the confusion and misunderstanding that had developed because of the statements made by President Hugh B. Brown as reported by Lester Kinsolving of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Elder Petersen posed the question that in proceeding in this manner we should undoubtedly talk to President McKay, as he felt that the article should go out over the signature of President McKay and with his complete approval, and that the signature of Joseph Fielding Smith and myself should also be on the article.  Assuming, therefore, that this was in conformity with the wishes of the brethren, and since Elder Lee had been the one who had prompted and directed the preparation of the policy article referred to, I proceeded to contact President McKay’s apartment and talked to the nurse, who said that it would be all right to see him at 9:30 a.m.


9:30 a.m.

At this appointed hour, with President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elder Mark E. Petersen, and Henry Smith, Press Representative of the First Presidency, we visited with President McKay.  The President said he felt a little better.  As had been arranged I talked to him and endeavored to explain the situation and then said that Elder Mark E. Petersen, representing the Twelve, would explain the matter to him for his consideration.  He read the contents of the policy letter that had been sent to the Ward, Stake, and Mission leaders throughout the Church, giving particular attention in reference to the statements included in the article that had been made by President McKay.

Following the presentation made by Elder Petersen, I moved closer to the President and asked him if he knew what Proter Petersen had spoken to him about.  He asked if I would go over it again, which I did.  I asked him if he recalled making the statements which were attributed to him in the article.  He said that he did and that the whole article was a fine statement and should be given to the press.

He then asked when it would be given to them and we advised him that it would appear on the front page of the Deseret News on Saturday, which was the following day.

Comment:  President McKay recognized his own statements and said that the article, after it had been read to him twice, was a fine article and should be given to the press.

Preparations were then to go forward, with Henry Smith handling the matter, of getting the article in the channels of the news media over the printed signatures of David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, Nathan Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith, and myself.

Reaction to the Above by Elder Harold B. Lee

I later received a telephone call from Henry Smith, who said that Mark Petersen had called him and had asked that the release be held up at the request of Elder Harold B. Lee.

I then called Elder Mark E. Petersen on the telephone, who related to me that Elder Lee had asked that the article not be published at this time through the general news media.

My concern was that President McKay had now given approval to it and had inquired as to when it was to be published and we had responded by saying that it would be the following day on Saturday.  Of course, President McKay did not request that it be released on the following day.  He merely asked the question as to when we intended to do it.  I do not believe that it was in his mind that it be done on any specific day, although he seemed concerned.

Elder Petersen thought that I might call Brother Lee and explain this part of the matter to him and this I did.  Brother Lee was fully aware of what had developed and said that it was not so much a matter of publishing it.  (He seemed to be in harmony with that.)  It was a matter of timing.  He wondered if, by withholding it at the present time, it would lessen the possibility of further breach in the impression that President Brown had given to the members of the Church by his reported statements and that it would probably be better to let the policy article be watered down through the steps that had already been taken in sending it to the Wards, Stakes, and Missions.

He also felt that inasmuch as the Quorum of the Twelve had thought that the article should not go to the press in general, that perhaps it should be withheld until it could be discussed further in the first meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency after the first of the year.

He said we do not want to offend President Tanner in proceeding in this manner without his being there.  I observed that it was my understanding that President Tanner had been called on the phone.  (Later I learned that both Henry Smith and Mark E. Petersen had called him.)  He had said that if it was the feeling of the brethren that this be done, that he would have no objections.  Brother Lee said ‘Yes, this is true, but all phases of it were not discussed with President Tanner over the phone.’

I mentioned the fact that the release of the article to the Church leaders over the signatures of Presidents Brown and Tanner had also caused some confusion, as members had called me to find out if I was not in harmony with the statement and also President Smith and I felt that any reissue of that statement should go out over the signatures of all members of the First Presidency.  Brother Lee then said, ‘This is one reason why we need to discuss the matter further.’

Brother Lee also stated that his feeling was mainly prompted by the fact that the Associated Press had contacted President Brown and that President Brown had qualified his statement by saying that it was his own opinion and not necessarily a policy statement of the Church.

Comment:  I subsequently, through Elder Mark E. Petersen and Earl Hawks of the Deseret News, received a copy of the Associated Press article which states:

Salt Lake City, December 26–Mormon Church leader describes as ‘my opinion’ a prediction of change in policy which bars Negroes from the Mormon priesthood.

That description was given Thursday by Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor in the ruling First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).

Brown was quoted a day earlier as saying that Negro policy would change in the not too distant future.  The report was made by Lester Kinsolving, religions columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.  Kinsolving interviewed Brown by telephone.

Contacted Thursday at his Salt Lake City home, Brown said he told Kinsolving that ‘My opinion would be a change.  I don’t know when.’

For some reason, the Associated Press article has never been published to my knowledge in any of the newspapers.  I do not know the reason.  But at any rate, based on this assumed qualifying statement by President Brown, Elder Lee felt that the whole matter should be held up with regard to the issuing of a general press release on the policy statement prepared and which had now been sent to Church leaders of our Church throughout the world.”