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Leonard J. Arrington Diaries – “Blacks”

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I forgot to tell you when I was writing about Negroes that we have to shower with Negroes right here.  Southern boys object like the devil & Northern boys tease them about it.  The point they always bring up us that Southerners will allow Negro women into their homes to take care of their baby, to fix their food, do their laundry, etc. & won’t ride next to them on the bus or shower with them.  When you get down to it the Southerners real basis for his opinions & treatment of the Negro is fear: fear of losing Negroes to do his work; fear of losing some white women to Negro men, fear that the Negro will dominate the white man.  There is many an argument in the Army between Southerners & Northerners as to which region gives the best treatment to Negroes, which region loves & respects Negroes the most, & in which region there will be the least Negro trouble after the war.  Practically all of them agree that there will be a lot of Negro unrest after the war.  Southerners proudly say they know how to take car of that.  Northerners are a little afraid.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Tuesday, 22 August 1944]

Well known is the drunkenness of the American soldier.  Worse still is the truck of these Italian girls with Negro troops.  The freedom of these girls with Negroes is going to create a problem when the Negroes return to America.  They have had white girls whenever they wanted them.  And they will continue to want them when they are in the States.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Tuesday, 19 September 1944]

A couple of days ago I mentioned I had seen & talked with lot of Brazilian troops who are fighting on the North Italy front.  I sent home some Brazilian paper money & now I am sending some more.  In the next package I will enclose Brazilian coins I bought some duplicates for trading purposes.

The book Good Neighbors by Hubert Herring describes Brazilians as “the most exuberant, impractical, amiable, & exasperating of all the sons of Iberia.”  They are all of that.  I believe they are the most enthusiastic of any troops over here.  Their morale is very high.  They’re curious & interested in everything that goes on.  They remind me a lot of Western(e)boys.  They aren’t polished or refined like English boys.  None of them are sissies, either.  They laugh, fight, play, & sing with gusto.  They have a very good sense of humor & are very democratic.

Brazil, like America, is a mixture of many kinds of people.  All these people have mixed socially & economically & have intermarried.  ? is a curious blend of black, white, red & yellow skin.  Take 10 Brazilian soldiers.  3 will be black, 1 will be yellow, 2 will be brown, & 4 will be white, but brunette.  They all live, sleep & eat together without any noticeable regard for color, race, creed or background.  In selecting officers & non-coms, no attention is paid to color.  University students & graduates are usually officers & non-coms, but it is by no means a rule.  One must go 2 years to officers military school in order to become an officer.  One usually works up from the ranks.

In Brazil distinction was made between officers & enlisted men, but over here they all live & eat together, mix & play together, & are not separate.  This is conducive to high morale & is in this respect more democratic than European & American armies.  9/10 of the griping of soldiers was to do with the privileges enjoyed by our officers.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Tuesday, 10 October 1944]

This morning around 5:30 it rained for perhaps a half hour.  All day it has been very cool.  This is in contrast to the 103° weather yesterday.  I would have had a nice pleasant afternoon in the office reading if it weren’t for the fact that I had to spend all afternoon making arrangements for Mr. Stauffer’s Italian driver.  He is as helpless as certain black creatures you often mention.  You see trouble over workers isn’t confined to the dark race.  I assure you Americans have just as much trouble with their lower class Italian help as Southerners do with the “niggers.”

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Wednesday, 1 August 1945]

The boys in this theater are all excited over the persecution of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast.  We’re interested because there has been a regiment of Japanese boys fighting with our boys over here and we have many friends among them.  Everybody wonders what in hell we’re fighting for if it isn’t toleration of race, religion, & belief.  I suppose many Westerners, like many Southerners, are Nazis at heart.  They think nobody is superior to a 100% white-blooded, America-first American.  Well, at least N.C. got rid of Bob Reynolds & Georgia got rid of Eugene Talmadge.  Now, if Mississippi will get rid of Rankin and Bilbo, and if the Anti-Jap elements in the West can be kept under control, we’ll have a pretty good country.

[LJAD, letter to Grace, Saturday, 11 August 1945]

3 August 1969 – Sunday

Dear Carl:

I think it was about this time last week I wrote to you.  Let me see if I can recall the important events, which have transpired since then.  Went to High Council meeting Monday night.  Then went to Salt Lake City Tuesday and took Mamma, Susan, and Carole along.  They shopped while I worked in the Archives.  Went to Salt Lake City again on Wednesday and drove back the same night.  Went to Rotary Thursday noon.  They had finished printing my history of Rotary, and it was distributed at the dinner.  Friday was a hard day at the office catching up on correspondence.  President Taggart’s son Stephen in NY died of cancer.  I am going to volunteer to finish up his manuscript in preparation for printing.  Saturday afternoon I was invited to Doug Alder’s, where he had about 10 other Univ. staff.  President Dyer was there and talked to us about his conference talk on sex education, group therapy and so on.  I sent you a copy of the new Dialogue during the week.  You’ll be interested.

[LJAD, letter to Carl, Sunday, 3 August 1969]

I talked to Gene England on the telephone lasts night about President Taggart’s son’s article on the Negro and the Priesthood which will come out in Dialogue in the next issue.  He reiterated that he would like your article as soon as you could get at it.

[LJAD, letter to Carl, 17 August 1969]

24.  Elder Dyer discussed in detail the subject of the Negro and the Priesthood as it pertained to Sterling McMurrin, Llewellyn McKay, etc.  Elder Dyer wrote an article and paper on this matter and presented it to the First Presidency.  He feels that a copy of these two items should be on file in the archives and will see that this is done.


4.  Elder Dyer commented on the mark and the curse placed on the Negro as a protection so they wouldn’t be sought out and killed.

[LJAD, Minutes of the Executives of the HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATER-DAY SAINTS meeting, Thursday 20 April 1972]


 AS TOLD TO LJA     JULY 17, 1972

(4) When Ed Lyon was a regular in the Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, a young fellow came in to see him about a private matter.  He was tall, blond, and blue eyed and everybody recognized him as a son of prominent converts from Holland. He apparently came to see Brother Lyon on this matter because Brother Lyon had been president of the Dutch mission and had a special interest in immigrants from Holland.  Brother Lyon knew that this was the youngest son of the immigrants and that his older brothers had been very active in the Church.  One was a Stake President, another was a High Councilor, another in a Bishopric.

The boy explained to Brother Lyon that he had just discovered as the result of some genealogical research that one of his ancestors was a Negro.  His great-grandfather had apparently gone to the West Indies and married a native woman who was half Negro and half Indian so that he was either one-64th or one-128th Negro.  The boy was about to be married, and he wanted Brother Lyon to tell him whether he should tell the girl and the bishop, since almost certainly he would not be allowed to go to the Temple to be married.  Brother Lyon told the boy, “Let me think about it a little.”  He explained that Brother Spencer W. Kimball was coming to give a talk to Institute leaders on the Negro issue.  “I’ll ask him what he thinks,” he said.  When Brother Lyon went to Brother Kimball, Brother Kimball said “I prefer not to say one thing about it.  I think you should talk to Brother Joseph Fielding Smith.”  Joseph Fielding met with the same group of Institute leaders to respond to their questions about doctrine, so Brother Lyon got the microphone and asked Brother Joseph Fielding Smith to respond to the question.  He mentioned the details except the name and asked Joseph Fielding for his opinion as whether the boy should tell the girl and the Bishop.  Brother Joseph Fielding gave an immediate and stern response, saying, “He is part Negro.  Of course, he should tell the girl; of course, he should tell the Bishop; of course he should not be married in the Temple.  Our doctrine is very clear on that.”

When they were singing the final song, Brother Joseph F. motioned to Brother Lyon to come up.  Brother Lyon walked up to him and Joseph Fielding whispered to him, “I have been thinking about that problem you raised.  I have been thinking of all of the complications in the lives of that young brother’s family—the Stake President, the High Councilor, the member of the Bishopric, and so on.  All of these have been married in the Temple and have participated in Church ordinances.  This would ruin their lives.  “I think it best, Brother Lyon, if you advise the young Brother to keep this matter to himself.  He should not tell his fiancé nor his Bishop. This is something between him and the Lord, and if the Lord ratifies the sealing in the Temple, who are we to question it?”

In the pulpit we saw Joseph Fielding Smith as the solemn and stern scriptorian.  We saw him privately as a person with humor and compassion.

[LJAD, Ed Lyon Stories about Joseph Fielding Smith, 17 July 1972]

14 November 1972

Dear Elder Packer:

Re:  My findings at the BYU Library.

The Adam S. Bennion Papers (ASB Papers) were placed in the BYU Library several years ago.  When he accessioned them, Brother Chad Flake, Special Collections Librarian, noted a folder dealing with the question of the Negro and the Priesthood.  Recognizing that this was a sensitive issue, and that it should not be made generally available to the patrons of the library, Brother Flake withdrew this folder from the collection.  Two or three years ago, he did make the file available to one person, Brother Lester Bush.  Brother Bush is the only person to have seen the file, Brother Flake thinks.  About a year and a half ago, one of the General Authorities, Brother Flake thinks it was President Romney, asked for the file and Brother Flake gave it to him.  And presumably it is still in his hands.  At any rate, that file is not now in the BYU Library.

[LJAD, memo to Elder Packer from LJA, 14 November 1972]

Brother Anderson read the proposal for the Joseph Fielding Smith Church History Award.  President Lee was very concerned about students doing research on confidential topics and about the publication of essays on sensitive topics announced as award winning.  President Lee seemed to be very concerned with this matter and mentioned four examples of the kind of problem that they are facing:

4.  There were other controversial things that were being brought to his attention.  For example, a large manuscript on the Negro question by a brother, which President Lee had asked Brother Packer to study.  President Lee said that unfortunately this study quoted from the minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve that had gotten into the papers of an apostle, and he had been unwise enough to let it go to BYU library.  (Of course, I knew all about this.  It was among the minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve of Adam S. Bennion, and the person doing the study is Lester Bush.)

President Lee emphasized that ours is a private archive and not a public one, and that we do not wish confidential materials to be made generally available.  He also deplored the tendency to pick out speculative documents in the Journal of Discourses to advocate.  He said that the Presidency had followed a policy of clearing the topics of theses to be prepared at BYU, and he thought we should clear the topics on which students will do research for the papers that they submit.  He said that there is a philosophy that we ought to be critical in our writings so as to make accommodation to the Jack Mormons and non-Mormons and dissenters.  This had been the policy of the editors of Dialogue.  President Lee said that he discerned a more conservative turn of Dialogue in recent issues and he thought that this was praiseworthy.

[LJAD, LJA Diary, Tuesday, 30 January 1973]

February 9, 1973

Elder Boyd K. Packer

Council of the Twelve

Room 217

Church Administration Building

Dear Brother Packer:

I have learned from another source about the manuscript of Brother Bush.  I suspect that it is the one that you have been reading for President Lee.

Would you see anything wrong with me sending this letter to Brother Bush?  I leave the judgment on whether to send it in your hands.


Leonard J. Arrington

[LJAD, Letter written by LJA to Boyd K. Packer, 9 February 1973]

February 20, 1973

Leonard J. Arrington

Church Historian

Dear Leonard:

Thanks for your note on the Bush compilation.  Inasmuch as President Lee has asked that this be reviewed, I wonder if we would not do well to follow through on his assignment first.

As far as I know, the copy sent to me was not sent on loan, but to keep, and as soon as I have reviewed it I will be happy to put it in the archives, if the Presidency approves it.

I’m returning your letter to him and suggest that you do not send it for the time being.


Boyd K. Packer

[LJAD, Letter written to LJA from Boyd K. Packer, 20 February 1973]

When Dr. Spitz of Stanford was at BYU last Wednesday, Davis Bitton asked him to explain how Wes Johnson was fired from Stanford.  We have always assumed that Wes Johnson was fired for two reasons:  (a) He was not a black and the blacks and other black sympathizers on the Stanford staff thought they should have a black as head of African Studies;  (b)  He was a Mormon, and Mormons were supposed by the militants of Stanford to be anti-black because of our priesthood doctrine.  Dr. Spitz says that when the matter came up of giving Wes tenure, the department voted by a slight majority to give him tenure.  The matter then went to the dean and to the president as all other appointments do.  The young militants in the department, presumably both students and faculty lobbied with the dean and president against granting tenure to Wes and the president finally turned it down.

Surprisingly, Dr. Spitz says the main objection the young militants had was not that he was white nor that he was a Mormon, but that he was too conservative in his political and economical philosophy.

It is funny how one gets tagged.  In terms of a Utah community like say Cache Valley, Wes would probably be considered as a political liberal, but on the Stanford campus he was regarded as a conservative.  The young militants did not want to add tenured faculty who were conservatives, so he was let go.

He then spent a year in Africa on terminal leave and was offered a job at Santa Barbara and is presumably doing well.  According to the most recent report, they will give him tenure at the end of this year at Santa Barbara.

[LJAD, LJA Diary, Monday, 2 April 1973]

Brother Anderson brought up the problem of Hyrum Andrus who has prepared an enormous manuscript on the Kingdom of God, and he asked Brother Anderson to approve it.  He read some parts of it and then turned it over to Brother Bruce McConkie for clearance.  It is there now.  He doesn’t know what is the proper thing to do here.  On the one hand, if they disapprove his publication of it he may go ahead and publish it and even make commerce out of their disapproval.  On the other hand, can they approve publication of a manuscript, which in essence shows that the Church was wrong on the Negro question?  Brother Anderson hesitates to predict how this eventually will be resolved.  He brought it up because Brother Bush quotes from minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve that were among the papers of Adam S. Bennion that went to BYU.  Brother Anderson seems to have full confidence in what I am doing and also is very pleasant in giving me counsel about the responsibility that I have.

[LJAD, LJA Diary, Friday, 27 April 1973]

Brother Anderson said that he thought it was unfortunate that we do not have the original papers of Church officials in all instances.  He thought it was regrettable that some go to BYU and the University of Utah and elsewhere.  He thought some of these papers, particularly those carrying confidential memorandums and minutes, could be better controlled here in our archives and should be controlled.  He gave as an example the Bennion papers given to BYU Library to which Brother Lester Bush had access, and his use of them in connection to the Negro controversy makes it embarrassing for the Church.

[LJAD, LJA Diary, Tuesday, 22 May 1973]

2.  Brother Arrington reported that he has received from a friend a 60-page copy of Lester Bush’s article which he (Bro. Bush) is contemplating having published regarding the Negro question.

[LJAD, Minutes of the meeting of the Executives of the Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Thursday, 24 May 1973]

Brother Anderson invited me into his office this morning to tell me about Lester Bush. Lester Bush had flown in from Viet Nam yesterday and would be here for two or three days.  As soon as he came to our archives and asked for material, they spotted his name and told him he would have to get the approval of Brother Anderson before he could use the material in the archives.  He went to see Brother Anderson.  Brother Anderson referred him to Brother Packer.  He talked with Brother Packer.  They both arranged later in the day to speak with him together.  So most of his day was spent in interviews and conversations with these two brethren.  Brother Anderson reported those to me.

As a result of those discussions, Brother Anderson instructed me to allow Brother Bush to see anything in our archives, which is not restricted to other scholars.  He also said that while they wish his piece would not be published as scheduled in Dialogue, they are interposing no obstacles and told him that as far as they were concerned they would not ask him not to publish.

Brother Anderson said they were impressed with his sincerity, with his devotion, and with his scholarship, but they wish he had not contracted to publish with Dialogue or with anybody.  However, they feel that the publication of the article will not necessarily be harmful to the Church.  There are even some persons perhaps that might be benefited by the publication of the article.  They do not think it would be as damaging to appear in Dialogue as it might in BYU Studies.

Brother Anderson went to some length to detail the conversations.  He liked Brother Bush very much—but thought he was a little misguided, or perhaps too confident that he knew all the facts.  Said that one divines religious truths by the spirit of God and not exclusively by the learning and wisdom of men.  Said he had born testimony to Brother Bush that from his personal knowledge, working with all of the First Presidency and General Authorities for more than fifty years, that there was no doubt in any of their minds about the truth of the “Negro doctrine” presently held by the Church.  Said in parting Brother Packer had read to Brother Bush from Paul’s statement in the second chapter of First Corinthians.  The entire chapter implies in essence knowing things by the spirit of God rather than by the learning of men.

When Brother Bush came into the archives this morning Marilyn brought in the slips for me to approve for him to see the journals of Willard Richards, William Appleby, and Anson Call.  On the basis of what Brother Anderson had instructed, I told her to show him anything in the archives that was unrestricted for use by other scholars.  In other words, as Brother Anderson said, “If we permit others to use it, we must allow him to use it.”

Lester Bush was in the archival search room using some materials, and I took the opportunity of introducing myself to him and inviting him into the office for a few minutes.  He must have spent a half an hour here.  He explained his own personal background and something about the work he has been doing and something about interviews, which he has had with Brother Anderson and Brother Packer.  At the close of our interview, Brother Anderson called to ask him to come to his office, and so I left him there.  I have the notion that Brother Anderson will also take him over for another interview with Brother Packer.  It may be that they have checked with President Lee and they may want to mention something to him.  Brother Bush says that he told them Dialogue had already accepted his article and planned to publish it in the next issue, and they told me they wish it weren’t being published, but they would not ask him not to publish it because they were more fearful of the result of a Church request not to publish than they were of the publication itself.  He said he got the impression from Brother Packer that he and various other Church officials are down on Dialogue.  When asked for specifics, Brother Packer said that he objected to the cover of the summer 1972 issue. Apparently Brother Packer saw this as having sexual connotations. It hadn’t done for me, but maybe my imagination wasn’t that strong.  He also mentioned the picture in the autumn 1972 issue entitled “Bonnie”—a study for a triptych on violence, media, and children.  He also objected to a poem on the Prophet Joseph Smith—the sketch and poem by C. H. Jolley entitled “”Prophet” on page 64 of the autumn 1972 issue.

He said that Brother Packer perhaps does not have as much respect as he ought to have for the learning of man—that is, the facts of history as can be determined by the best kind of research.

Dr. Bush grew up in Washington, D.C. and Virginia where his father was a government employee.  His parents are converts.  His mother from Louisiana was converted about twenty years ago and his father was converted within the last year or two.  Brother Bush has not served a mission for the Church, but his brother has.  Brother Bush went to the University of Virginia to receive his bachelor’s and also his M.D. degree.  During that period was the George Romney excitement and this got him interested in the “Negro problem” of the Church.  He came to Salt Lake City Hospital as an intern and during that time did research on the “Negro problem” of the church.  He had quite an interesting story to tell about his experiences trying to get access to material in the Church Archives.  He had lengthy and friendly conferences with A. William Lund, who Dr. Bush said was senile.  Basically the material he has collected comes from the collections at the University of Utah, BYU, and other outside sources.  Even 90 percent of the Bennion documents at BYU, which he used, is among the George Albert Smith papers at the University of Utah.

Brother Bush said he asked Brother Packer why the Church had not asked the Historical Department people to collect material on the history of the Negro doctrine.  And Brother Packer did not give a direct response to that, but he said that they had accumulated a good deal of material on the subject, but Dr. Bush thought that was simply the material collected by Apostle Bennion.

I am impressed that Dr. Bush is sincere and devout and prayerful.  Also that he sincerely believes that the prophets and Church leaders have occasionally made mistakes and feels that they did make a mistake in the case of the Negro doctrine.  He says t is very clear to him as a result of his research that the Negro doctrine was not established by Joseph Smith but by Brigham Young, and that a study of our history will demonstrate that it is the product of a series of circumstances rather than the clear voice of the Lord to one of his prophets.

He does intend to go ahead and publish in Dialogue.  He asked me if I thought it was proper for him to do so under the circumstances.  I replied evasively that he had not been discouraged from doing so by Brother Packer and by Brother Anderson and that I did not think it was proper for me to discourage him.

[LJAD, LJA Diary, Thursday, 31 May 1973]

This afternoon Lester Bush came into my office again while he was waiting on Davis Bitton.  He reports that he has had an additional conversation with Brother Packer, yesterday afternoon with Brother Anderson, and this morning with Hartman Rector.  It would appear that the purpose of these additional interviews was to attempt to sell him on the idea that there is absolutely no doubt among the Brethren on the “Negro Doctrine” of the Church, and that any research and writing on this subject is superfluous, wasteful, and potentially harmful.  They do not see historical research on this question as making it easier for the Church to solve the “Negro Problem;” the doctrine is solved and settled.  Brother Packer apparently takes a dim view of the “learning of men” which essentially includes all academically oriented research.  It appears to be his belief that you search the scriptures for answers and to the extent to which answers are not provided then you go to the Lord in prayer, and you get the working of the Holy Ghost to provide you with an acceptable and truthful and adequate answer.  Brother Bush suggested that perhaps Brother Rector is a little more encouraging of academic research of the type that he has been doing.

Brother Bush says that he was trained as a general medical practitioner.  He is employed as a doctor by the State Department.  He has at least three more years to go under present agreements and at least one more year in Viet Nam.  For the future, maybe after ten or fifteen years, he might enlist in the Church Medical Services Program. As it is, he is being assigned to different parts of the world and gets his way paid wherever he goes and is pleased with this kind of assignment.  The assignment also provides plenty of time for him to write and organize his research materials.  The volume on the “Negro Doctrine” was all typed by him when he was on the island of Cyprus.

Brother Bush says his interviews have been harrowing and emotional and very difficult for him.  Nevertheless, he feels that he must go ahead with the publication of his paper.  He feels very depressed that there appears to be no possibility of a change on the Church’s Negro doctrine within the next twenty years.  There seems to be unanimity among all the brethren on this question and no desire to alter the Church policy and practice in this regard.  I suggested to him that as a sequel to this study, which is essentially completed, he ought to write up his experiences, his conversations, his prayers, his research, his correspondence, and so on and tell the story honestly and completely.  Keep one copy for himself and family and file a Xerox copy with our office to be used only under such restrictions as he might impose as, for example, “To be opened in 1993” or something in that order.

Brother Bush has thought of the need for handling the Book of Mormon as we would do some other compiled work of history—putting quotations in small type and indenting, having edited remarks and footnotes, and so on.  He says he has already done this for the RLDS Book of Mormon—the first 300 pages.  I told him this is what I had thought about when I was at the University of Idaho, and I had gotten only three pages completed at the time.  I encouraged him to complete that task.

[LJAD, LJA Diary, Friday, 1 June 1973]

11. Attention was called to the fact that Lester Bush’s article regarding the Church and the Negro is in the current issue of Dialogue magazine.

[Meeting Minutes of the Executives, Historical Department; LJA Diary, 4 Sept., 1973]

3. Brother Arrington called attention to a previous discussion regarding the desire of Sister Janet Cannon to turn over to the Historical Department a bound copy of Lester Bush’s manuscript on Mormonism and the Negro. Brother Arrington said we have now received a letter from Brother Bush giving his permission for the manuscript to be cataloged and made available to researchers desiring to use it. After conferring with Elders Packer and Hunter it was agreed that Elder Hunter will take the matter to the Twelve for their consideration and recommendation. A copy of Brother Bush’s letter will be placed with the manuscript. 

[Meeting Minutes of the Executives, Historical Department; LJA Diary, 13 Nov., 1973]

I was told this afternoon that President Kimball was a traditionalist, very conservative as to doctrine and as to procedures. A prediction was made that he would most likely choose Elders Benson and Petersen, as the senior members of the Quorum after him, to be his counselors. He has great compassion for ordinary persons and their problems, but his approach is that of a traditionalist rather than an innovator.

I was also told that Elder Kimball and Elder Benson were called at the same time. They were notified to go to church headquarters for the interview at about the same time. Elder Kimball happened to arrive just 10 minutes ahead of Elder Benson, and had the first interview. Then Elder Benson. Then their names were presented in that order to the conference, and they were ordained in that order. I was told that he had heard this from Elder Benson himself. This suggests that perhaps Elder Benson feels it was an accident that he followed Elder Kimball in order of seniority. If this story is true, and if Elder Kimball is aware of or sympathetic with this feeling, then perhaps he will choose Elder Benson as a counselor. On the other hand, there will certainly be strong precedent for maintaining the same counselors that President Lee had. We’ll know tomorrow at 10 am.

[LJA Diary, 30 Dec., 1973]

At the end of these remarks, Brother Ashton then said there would be a few minutes for questions to be directed toward President Kimball. Eight questions were asked by the reporters:

3. Negros and the priesthood. Will there be any change in that policy now or in the future? President Kimball said that this is a matter which depends upon the Lord. We ourselves have not said this policy. We are subject to the revelations of the Lord and if the Lord should dictate a change in this then it will occur.

[LJA Diary, 31 Dec., 1973]

Last night Grace and I and James attended the first meeting of the year of Cannon-Hinckley Church History Club. . . .

The speaker was David Kennedy. He and his wife Leanora came early as we did to get good seats, and we had an opportunity of talking with them for a few moments. . . .

Kennedy then talked about the central theme of President Kimball of taking the gospel to all the world. This is not a Utah church or an American church–it is a universal church. It is Christ’s church and God’s church. The gospel is for all, men, as pointed out in the introduction to the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

[LJA Diary, 18 Sep., 1974]

We had a meeting this morning with Florence Jacobsen, Wendell Ashton, and Bishop Vandenburg about transferring the Church Curator and her functions to the Historical Department.  In the discussion afterwards Wendell Ashton mentioned two or three things that were very interesting.  The single most ticklish problem for the Church in terms of public communications, he said, is the problem of the Negro and the priesthood.  He said it is his impression that we are getting tighter on the issue rather than more lenient.  President Lee in his statement on the issue had included the sentence “We have always believed that at some time the Negro will be given the priesthood.”  He said President Kimball’s suggestion and those of his associates is that this be modified to read “Some day the Negro may be given the priesthood.”  He said President Lee, in giving him [Ashton] his call, which President Lee emphasized was a Church service call, said the advantage of having him was that he could make statements which could later be repudiated if necessary by the First Presidency.  On the Negro issue they have insisted that he, Wendell Ashton, make the statement.  President Kimball has followed that same policy.

[LJA Diary, 1 Oct., 1974]

At Rotary today I ate at the same table with Wally Bennett, son of Senator Bennett, who runs the paint and glass business of his family. He was also formerly a president of the British South Mission during the administration of President Joseph Fielding Smith. He says that the most important problem which came up during his mission was the acquisition of land in a town, the name of which I do not recall, on which to build a chapel. The city had an arrangement that a church group like ours might be able to acquire the land at a nominal figure so long as it was devoted to social purposes such as religion. They applied to purchased the land to build a chapel and before there was a hearing on the matter, the local Methodist minister prepared a fourteen-page document with quotations from Church leaders and scriptures saying that our view of the Negro was such that building a chapel and giving us a presence in the community would cause racial strife–that we would promote racial strife. He had quotations from Mark E. Petersen and Brigham Young and various other people well studied and documented–quotations that Brother Bennett had never heard of.

This paper by the Methodist minister had been circulated among all those attending the hearing except President Bennett, who was not aware of it until it was read in his presence. He had to report off-the-cuff and was not prepared to do so.

He reported this to his supervisor and received essentially no reply. He wrote in further and made further contacts with Church officials who visited the region, but nobody would reply to it or tell him what to say in reply. Finally a meeting was held at which were present President Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Gordon Hinckley, Theodore Burton, Boyd Packer, and others. They asked him to present the matter. They then discussed it to some extent and someone tentatively suggested that Brother Bennett ought  to withdraw his request to the city housing authority and just buy the land through commercial channels. Brother Bennett replied that he didn’t want to do that. He thought we could win it and thought we ought to see it through. Nobody would say anything or write anything or te1l him what to do or say. Ultimately the matter was discussed by the city housing authority and they ruled against the Church’s application. The matter was then appealed to the municipal counsel. There was in the meantime created some sentiment in the newspapers that the housing authority had been unfair to the Church and to the British Saints in that area. Sufficient sentiment was generated through the media that when the municipal counsel voted, they overruled the housing authority and agreed to furnish the Church the property. They then planned a chapel.

It is Brother Bennett’s understanding that they are now building or are scheduled to build a chapel on the location. I have the impression that all of this occurred in 1971-72 and that the British South Mission is now called the London British South Mission. 

[LJA Diary, 9 Sep., 1975]

We have been watching “Roots” on TV every evening. In fact, of the nine episodes now completed, we have seen eight. We missed only Wednesday night when we went to the opera. It has been an interesting series to watch; the acting has been great, the photography outstanding. But as theater it is pretty obviously a work with a strong sense of mission and a not-at-all subtle purpose. I’m told that Haley’s principal purpose is the reestablishment of the black family, and this is commendable, praiseworthy. Moreover, I’m told that this is carried out well in the book. But it is clear that the purpose of the writers of the TV series is propaganda-and primarily hate propaganda. I should not be surprised if there are not some social repercussions-the building of hatred, suspension of harmony. They are playing with powerful emotions. 

To begin with, in all of the episodes we have watched, there is not a single white man who is admirable; indeed every single white man is despicable. If all of the blacks are not admirable, there is not a single one who is not admirable from some point of view defended in the series. None are despicable. The whites are cruel, hypocritical, lustful, greedy, drunken, shallow. This is precisely the same as the kind of Mormon history in which the Saints can do no wrong and their” enemies” are always doing the devil’s work. It’s a case of black and white, to use an expression-right versus wrong, goodness versus badness. And in “Roots” the blacks are always “white” and the whites are always “black.” Things just weren’t that simple.

In my classes in economic history at USU I always devoted a week to the economics of slavery, and so I read the standard works on black slavery. I presented the problem in a straightforward way even when, as happened in some of the years, I had black students in class. If there is anything which I learned in connection with preparing the lectures, it was that the problem was not a simple one, and that generalizations were not easy to come by. Were any of the masters cruel? Some were. Were the overseers always cruel? Not always. Were the blacks ever treacherous? Some were. Were the blacks subjected to repeated whippings? Some were. Did southern “gentleman” force themselves upon black women? Some did. Did black women sometimes entice white men? Sometimes. Did slave owners take elaborate means to prevent their slaves from learning to read and write? Some did; others provided schools. Did slave owners prohibit blacks from religious worship? Some did; others encouraged it. Slavery was evil but not an unmitigated evil. For unquestionably some of the blacks led a happy, or reasonably happy life. And if there was cruelty and slavery in America, there was also cruelty and slavery in the Black Africa from which they came. The life in Africa was not idyllic. There was not a single suggestion in “Roots” that a large proportion of the slaves were betrayed and sold by their own people. Nor that the loss of life among white slavery was quite as high on the ocean voyage as among the blacks. Nor that slaves often lived “more free” than many of the white immigrants from Ireland, England, Germany, etc. who came as indentured servants.

In short Haley did a wonderful thing, but his purpose was to some extent twisted for the TV series. 

[LJA to Children, 28 Jan., 1977]

We finished seeing all of “Roots” Sunday night. So we saw all of it but the third episode. It ended better than it started, historically speaking. Mamma enjoyed watching the series, as we all did, and then instructed me to go over and buy the book, which I did. Mama has already started reading it. Two or three observations. Since I have myself seen Mamma hug and kiss black women she knew who helped care for her, I can testify that there was a warm affection between many Southern whites and Southern blacks. This was people loving people without any consideration of color or lofty humane sentiment. All the historical evidence, or rather much historical evidence suggests that the same was true during the period slavery existed. Moreover, the terms of endearment in the Southern language buttresses this point. These black women who were part of the Fort household were called “Auntie”–really “Aintie.” Precisely the same term that early Mormons called the plural wives of “other” families, all of whom where white. So no degradation there. The Greeks and Romans had white slaves as well as black, so did Genghiz Khan. And the blacks in Africa had black slaves and white. I see American Negro slavery as being more man’s inhumanity against man, than white inhumanity against blacks. And that is an important distinction. People can be, have been, and will be cruel to other humans–black, white, brown, red, yellow, whatever. And it is as racist for blacks to hold it against the whites as for the whites to be cruel to blacks. May we treat all as bothers and sisters!

[LJA to Children, 5 Feb., 1977]

4. I predict the Church will take a small step toward recognizing the dignity and worthiness of members of the Church of the black race.

[LJA Predictions for the year 1978, made January 1978]

At Rotary Club on Tuesday I sat next to Ted Cannon, husband of Janath. I told him I had been wanting for some time to ask him how he became acquainted with Lester Bush. He hummed and hawed and finally said he didn’t place the name. Then I reminded him that he had received from Lester Bush several years ago some materials on the history of the negro doctrine. He thought a minute further and said, “Oh, yes I remember.” When he was president of the Swiss mission, he said, Lester Bush and family were in Cypress. This was before the international mission was created and Cypress was at that time in the Swiss mission. So was the Middle East; so was Africa. Because he had been in this capacity he is even today a counselor in the international mission of the Church. He said that he stayed several days with Lester Bush and family in Cypress and at that time Lester told him about his work on the negro and he had asked Lester to give him a copy. He then gave that copy to Elder Packer, having previously told Elder Packer about the conversation with Brother Bush. Elder Packer then directed that this be given to the Historical Department archives and it rests today in our vault. I asked him if Brother Bush wasn’t connected with the CIA. He said he seemed reasonably sure that he was but he never did ask him and was never told that he was. He simply had a hunch on it. He liked Brother Bush and thought him a loyal Church member. 

[LJA Diary, 19 May, 1978]

Not much special news to report.

[LJA to Children, Friday morning, 9 June, 1978]

Although I had no premonition of the announcement of this day revealing that the Lord will now permit blacks to hold the Priesthood and go to the temple, I will record here some things that I have known.

First, approximately six months ago Elder Neal Maxwell telephoned me on a confidential basis to ask if I could find for him the quote of Joseph Fielding

Smith that “darkies are wonderful people.” He said he understood Joseph Fielding had said something more in that interview about blacks ultimately being given the Priesthood. My memory was that this was in an article in Time about 1966, or 1967. I hundred through Time and through other publications and could not find it. I gave up. Then about a month ago, quite by accident, I learned that it was in an article in Look in 1968. I hunted that article up, xeroxed the article and sent it on to Elder Maxwell. He expressed his appreciation and asked for a Xerox of the Deseret News interview on which it was based. I sent that as well. He expressed appreciation for that as well. This suggests that Elder Maxwell, as chief planning officer, was actively working on a memorandum to President Kimball about the issue and wanted all the evidence he could find.

Second, Chase Peterson, during the flight from Boston to SLC on May l4, showed me a letter he was in the process of writing to President Kimball about the issue. It was a wonderful letter, so well written and so sincere, and approached so well. He talked as though he was going to send it to President Kimball during the following week. I made two or three suggestions for improving the letter and those were incorporated at the time. I assume he sent the letter. He did not want to send the letter without assurance that President Kimball would see it. He contacted Bill Smart of Deseret News, who had the opportunity of asking President Kimball about it, and President Kimball said he would welcome the letter and would read it with much interest. I assume that Chase did, in fact, send the letter and that it reached receptive ears.

Third, Elder Durham was in my office yesterday asking if I had evidence to show that Joseph Smith had been responsible for fastening the Priesthood denial to blacks upon the Church. He said that he was very concerned that this not be attributed to Brigham Young exclusively as had been done in Lester Bush’s article. I told him that Newell Bringhurst was in my office just a day earlier to tell me that he had found sufficient evidence to suggest that Priesthood denial to blacks was fairly generally understood and accepted in the Church in 1843, in Nauvoo. I told Elder Durham I might be able to get this from Newel if he particularly wanted it. Elder Durham said no, he had talked with Dr. Bringhurst himself a day earlier, and wanted to know if I had any additional evidence. What a coincidence if Elder Durham did not himself know yesterday about the forthcoming announcement!

I have of course no idea as to whether the First Presidency and General Authorities made use of Elder Adam S. Bennion’s report of about 1957 in which he indicated the denial of the Priesthood to blacks had no sound scriptural basis. I have not seen that report, but Elder Bennion summarized it in his talk to our Mormon Seminar in SLC about 1957 at a session at which I was president, and of which I kept notes. (I presume those notes are in my folder on Negroes and the Priesthood.)

In my talks to Mormon groups, and a question period comes, I am almost never asked a question about the “Negro policy.” In talks to public groups, almost inevitably the question is asked “Why…?” My reply in such public discussions has been pretty much as follows: For the believing Mormon it is sufficient to know that the Lord’s servants–those empowered to interpret His will–have said the Lord has not sanctioned giving the Priesthood to blacks. As to why, we don’t know, nor do the Lord’s servants know. We accept it as one of the inexplicables like why the Lord permits suffering, or permits sinners to prosper. Looking at it from a purely naturalistic standpoint, I would make the following points: (1) Mormons have always believed that Negroes would eventually be given the Priesthood; (2) Mormons have thought that the Lord’s refusal to approve granting the Priesthood to blacks may have as much to do with the unwillingness of the whites to accept blacks as true brothers as with the unworthiness of blacks, and so we have prayed that we might be more worthy; (3) historically, the Saints did preach the gospel to blacks, and there were a number of black members in the early church. Then Missouri. Then the strong statement that we do not encourage blacks to join, and do not grant them leadership positions. We did not want to alienate the Missourians unnecessarily. We were fighting for our lives! (4) Finally, there have not been many blacks in Utah and “Mormon Country” to make it an important problem. (5) We do try to keep down prejudice and discrimination; we lean over backwards to show our love for blacks. (6) We do think the Gospel has much to offer to blacks by way of helping to stabilize the family and training in leadership, and we are praying to the Lord to permit us to give them the Priesthood.

Friday Evening

James called about dinner time to talk about the ANNOUNCEMENT. Said it was received joyously among students at BYU. He heard not a single adverse comment. His favorite comment was that of one student who said: “Now we can have the best basketball team in the nation.” Another joked: “It was a black day for the Mormon Church.” James was delighted, of course.

My brother Don, in Kimberley, telephoned and wanted my comment about it.

Ron Esplin called to say Duane Cardall had wanted a television interview with someone. How about me? I told him to suggest Elder Durham. I watched tonight’s broadcast and they had Dean May. Dean handled it very well. This evening Ray Boren of Deseret News telephoned for a telephone interview. I told him to call Elder Durham.

Grace and I went to the reception at Bitton’s house for the marriage of their daughter. Davis said they heard the announcement at 10:30 am in the temple from Elder Hanks, who came in to perform the ceremony. Elder Hanks said he had just come from a meeting of General Authorities in the Temple and that this group would be the very first to get the news. He said they had been meeting for several hours in the temple. Many wept for joy at the announcement of the revelation. And each was asked for his own personal statement.

I listened to each of the national TV channels report the news at 4:30, 5:00, and 5:30. It was done tastefully, with no comments or statements damaging to the Church and its image. Then at 6:00 I listened to KSL Channel 5, which carried comments from a number of people, nearly all of which were favorable to the announcement. I liked the comment of the Jewish rabbi, Abner Bergman; the Presbyterian minister, Sweitzer; and of the president of the Genesis branch, Rustin Bridgeforth, all of which were good. Dean May’s interview was thoughtful and good. 

[LJA Diary, 9 June, 1978]

Dear Children:

I just heard a few moments ago the news that President Kimball had announced that Church authorities are now permitted to ordain all worthy male members to the Priesthood, without regard to race or color. Within five minutes of my hearing it, Carl telephoned to say that he had heard it broadcast in the East, and that he had first telephoned Chris, and then me. I was in the midst of sobbing with gratitude for this answer to our prayers, and could hardly communicate with him. But I know we all feel deep pleasure and satisfaction with this announcement, which President Kimball assures us was a response of the Lord to his own pleadings and supplications. I know absolutely nothing about the background, but will let you all know if I learn anything. I feel to thank the Lord!

Love, Dad

[LJA to Children, 9 June, 1978]

It occurred to me as Director of the History Division to convene the research-writers in the History Division in my office to give the circumstances under which they learned of the new revelation, to express their initial and subsequent reactions, and to repeat the reactions of others they had observed over the weekend. The following record of that meeting was made by my secretary, Nedra Pace. As will be seen, Maureen Beecher, Richard Jensen, and James Allen were not present at the meeting, but made statements to me after the meeting which are included in the pages that follow the record of the meeting itself. We thought this record would be important for the historians of the future. I am placing it in my diary and perhaps eventually some person might decide that it also belongs in the Journal History of the Church.

Meeting convened at 8:45 a.m. in LJA’s office. Present were Gordon Irving, Ron Esplin, Ron Walker, Michael Quinn, Glen Leonard, Bill Hartley, Bruce Blumell, Davis Bitton, and LJA.

LJA began with two announcements. (1) Brother Durham asked him to have a private meeting with staff members present to ask any of us if we have or could get within a day or two any instances in which any predecessors of President Kimball had made the statement that some day the Priesthood would be given to the blacks. LJA asked Ron Walker if there is any way he could follow through President Grant’s diaries to see if there is any indication in his diary that he or some other president had made such a statement. The First Presidency, in the second paragraph of their letter, stated that “our predecessors have looked forward to this day,” and “aware of the promises made by our presidents and predecessors…” Glen thought David O. McKay said something close to that. Ron asked if anyone was aware of any time in President Grant’s administration when this came up. Elder Durham is not doing this by assignment but to be prepared. He doesn’t want us to advertise that we are doing this, or for us to question other people. He just wants us to spend a couple of days. Gordon suggested bringing Tom Truitt in. Let Glenn Row go down as his supervisor, as if he had a letter to answer, which will soon probably be the case. Dean Jessee is not here, so he cannot find out what Parley Pratt had to say. LJA will ask Maureen this afternoon. Davis has a collection of Lester Bush’s on the Negro and the Priesthood.

(2) LJA thought it might be useful forts to spend an hour together for the benefit of the Journal History and make a record of individual reactions to this news. Each person give the circumstances under which he heard it.

LJA: Was at home with a sore throat. Nedra phoned to say that she had waited until it had been confirmed and gave him the news. He was in the process of sobbing about this good news when Carl phoned about five minutes later from New York and said he had heard it over the radio and wanted to talk to him about it. Leonard couldn’t even talk with him. That shows how quickly it got into the national wires. Nedra phoned about 11:30 and it was back there by then. James phoned after and said that everybody was excited at BYU and he had seen several groups get together to discuss it. Everybody was very positive about it. The most interesting reaction James had was one fellow who upon being told said, “Gee that’s great. Now we can have the best basketball team in the country.” Somebody else, upon reflection, is reported to have said “It’s a black day for the Mormon Church.”

Ron Esplin injected that a scholar in the search room had joked that they ought to have a rule that only one can play on a court at a time because he still wants to play.

Glen: Was at Hotel Utah with Bob Carriker of Gonzaga University, a non-member and Chairman of Western History Association Sites Committee, meeting at the Hotel Utah who was hosting them. Coming out after lunch at the Crossroads Cafe there Glen glanced at the newspaper box with the Deseret News close by. He read the headline on the paper, bent down quickly and read it. Carriker was standing there and Glen told him the Church has given the priesthood to the blacks. Bob couldn’t believe it so Glen turned around and said that’s what is in the paper. (Carriker is a Catholic). A Hotel Utah employee who was off paying the bill came back. She asked what reasons they gave. Glen said, “It says revelation.” She said she didn’t believe in revelation. Glen took Carriker back to the Hilton where he was staying and came back and tried to buy a paper. All the stands on South Temple were sold out. Finally he picked one up at West Temple and South Temple. At Sacrament meeting they had a returned missionary speak, he said, in a joking manner, that when his family heard the news they went and bought a watermelon (laugh, laugh).

Experience from Glen given on separate page.

Mike Quinn: He was at BYU in his research room where he had no contact with anybody and came out to go to BYU Studies office. He had a manuscript he was revising. Laura Wadley asked if he had heard about the blacks receiving the priesthood. He said he didn’t want to hear the punch line and can’t we get down to business. Didn’t believe her. She just shrugged and turned on the radio. The last of the broadcast was playing. He felt overwhelmed. Felt he would never see it in his lifetime. Told her if any of his predictions came true this one would, that the first man ordained would be Monroe Fleming. When an undergraduate at BYU, Mike had heard of his being a waiter at the Hotel Utah and how he had normally served the missionaries. Bore testimony to them. When he (Mike) was there he does believe Brother Fleming served them but he didn’t bear testimony. While an undergraduate Mike called Monroe up and asked him to be a Sacrament meeting speaker in his BYU ward. Richard Anderson was bishop. Among the things he told them was one incident that he wanted to forget. He was converted, his wife was a born member. Went to California either on a vacation or to live for a time. Went into one of the wards in California and sat down in Sunday school about the middle of the congregation. Everyone on the row got up and moved, and they were left alone on the bench. They thought maybe they shouldn’t sit that close to the front. So they sat on the last row in Sacrament meeting. Everyone next to them got up and moved away. That was their first Sunday. He came back the next Sunday. His family came to sit in the last bench and they were again alone. A member of the bishopric got up, motioned to his family, and he and family moved from the front of the chapel where they were sitting and went to the back row to sit with the Flemings. From that time on they were fellowshipped. Those kinds of experiences need to be remembered. Members of the Church have used the Church restriction as an excuse for prejudice. For some members this is going to be a tremendous crisis.

After that Mike went back to his research room, then went to his office to pick up books. Found a note in his box that said the New York Times had called his office (which is now occupied by a substitute). One of the editors of the Times had called; Howard Lamar, editor of Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West, had recommended Mike to him. Note indicated he would be calling him at home. He didn’t call by 7 p.m., so Mike called him. Editor of the Sunday review section of the Times which is an in-depth coverage of selected news items that were covered during the week. They spent an hour talking. Substance of all of his questions was focused on our belief in revelation. Didn’t deal with any issue relating to blacks. No other historical background. There could be nothing there that could he considered controversial. Mike bore testimony historically on revelation. Asked for instances in which a public pronoucement was given when it was accompanied by the statement, “this has come by revelation.” Mike selected six occasions. Told of Joseph Smith and Doctrine and Covenants. (1) 1847, First Presidency organized (had to do some back-tracking to explain). (2) Woodruff Manifesto of 1890. (3) Tithing in 1900 by Lorenzo Snow. (4) Welfare Plan of Heber J. Grant. (5) International Scope of Church by David O. McKay, where temples, the most sacred buildings in Mormonism, were announced to be constructed in Switzerland and London. (6) This revelation on priesthood was the sixth mentioned. The editor indicated he had spoken to others.

In Mike’s ward he is in charge of the youth in his ward. There was one fellow who was previously a member of the ward and continued to be active in the youth activities by the name of Phil Mikelowski, 15 years old. Born of Polish father and black mother. Had suffered from two different kinds of ethnic jokes. Mike was talking with the youth advisor. When he heard the news, the youth advisor called up this fellow and said, “Phil, I have news for you. President Kimball has announced that blacks are to receive the priesthood.” There was a silence on the phone and he said, “You wouldn’t kid me about this, would you?” He, said, “You know I would never kid you about this.” Long silence and he could tell that Phil was sobbing on the other end. There was a close friend in the room with the boy and he kept hunched down over the phone because he couldn’t carry on a conversation. Finally continued conversation. Wanted to go on a mission and wanted to go to Canada. Mike spoke with Phil yesterday and he said things were outstanding with him. Was having his membership transferred down to the ward.

LJA said Carl called. Said in his ward they presented a Nigerian convert to be ordained and was done after meeting. Also in one of Long Island wards where Brother Hinckley was visiting. Said in Sunday issue of Times that they didn’t have a separate article on revelation. Article by Mario DePillis. It was a positive article–very good, favorable; and accurate. Quite long. 

Mike: Friend from California called, is also extremely close friend of

G. Homer Durham. Said that General Authorities were called in for an advance briefing at 7 a.m. Friday. Brother Durham phoned George Durham, his son, and was uncontrollably sobbing as he gave him the news. (Ron Esplin heard the same from Dean May whom George Durham called right after getting the news.)

Another interesting situation. Yesterday Emigration Stake had high priest quorum meeting. Speaker was a woman, Elaine Cannon. Spent majority of remarks talking on priesthood and negro and her testimony of Spencer Kimball and tribute to him as prophet.

Fellow in California pointed out to him the special significance of this new revelation in terms of our usual assumption that since the days of Cain there have always been certain peoples who have been denied the priesthood. This may be one of the most important manifestations of the restoration of all times. For the first time since the days of Adam all peoples of the world can be members of God’s priesthood.

Ron Walker: At his stake conference yesterday they had the bishops sit on the stand in the Assembly Hall. He noticed in the congregation a very large imposing black man. When he had seen this before in other congregations he personally felt uneasy, not because he didn’t want him there or because he didn’t love the person as a brother, but there was this thought of “does he know, is he a member?” Now it was great to see him there. Didn’t feel like he had to make any apologies. L. Tom Perry was a member of stake and closed the conference. Said that they had weighed this question for over two months. During this period his respect for President Kimball had deepened enormously. Bore witness that he was a prophet. Didn’t relate the experience or particulars, but was obvious this had weighed heavily on President Kimball as he brought the Church through this decision. The brethren sensed anew his mantle. 

Ron heard the news for the first time at 11:00 p.m. at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with the priests and teachers of his ward. Darren Ellingson, a teachers’ advisor, came running into camp and told him. He didn’t believe it. Asked where a second witness was. He said he heard it on the radio. Ron still didn’t believe, although two of the boys affirmed Darren’s statement. Turned on the radio, got KBYU, which announced the revelation. One of the advisors looked at Ron’s reaction and said he was stunned. After they turned the radio off they started talking and the boys asked how he felt. His first reaction was what a great prophet President Kimball was and how much he appreciated him. Expressed great appreciation and delight for the revelation. Some of the boys were surprised. Priest advisor felt the same way. Something he had carried as a matter of faith for many years. In his ward Ron heard more on Sunday. Everyone was pleased. A few phone calls where they indicated reservations. Some people don’t know how to handle this. Had as sacrament speaker Norman Gail, a seminary teacher, honoring their graduating youth. He started his remarks by talking about it and how difficult it would be for many members of the Church and his remarks were a little embarrassing. Yet Ron looked at the people in the congregation and realized that there were those who needed that. After his return from Jackson Ron returned some camping equipment to a counselor who had just got back from Yellowstone. He hadn’t heard and Ron had the thrill of telling him. Expressed a great appreciation.

Bill: Was on the road to California all that day (Friday). Drove to San Jose, got there at 10 p.m. He didn’t listen to the radio. Brother’s wedding reception and a new baby, so plenty of new topics. First thing they told him, because his family knows of his interest in the subject. His brother said, have you heard? He pulled out the paper with a front-page headline. Bill looked to see if it was an April Fools edition. Assured it was true, Bill gave off a hundred glory hallelujahs. Went to San Leandro for the evening. Got there just before the evening news and watched the news. One general newscaster started by saying, “Mormons get Message from Heaven.” But largely relied on Don Olson’s account from Salt Lake.

Bill’s first thought was Sam Chambers. Could he do his temple work? He thought of Monroe Fleming. Second thought that passed through his mind was it’s a double-edged thing. His children will never appreciate the significance of the Sam Chambers article he wrote. His son Jeff is excited about having the priesthood. None of his children will ever have to he concerned about the question. Bill stayed at the home of a family that were in-laws to his brother. They asked Bill what he thought of it. He asked them the question. He said he had been hoping for that for a long time but is now having reservations. Next day Bill made it a point to go out and get papers. Saturday night’s paper carried a follow-up of Monroe Fleming’s reaction and Lucille Bankhead’s reaction. Bill remembered his interviews with people like Brother Fleming and Henrietta Leggroan. They lost the second generation of blacks because they couldn’t feel full involvement in the Church. Bill’s brother Richard is a new bishop in BYU student ward, but he does have one black male in the ward. Was going to see that something was done as soon as he got home. He called his counselor to be sure that they made some mention of the announcement in the Sunday meeting. During the trip Bill interviewed his mother crossing Nevada, but never once did she mention the change. Thought this was significant. Religious news program on Sunday morning. Fair discussion of the change.

Bill’s wife had tried to phone him. She then called Debbie because she needed to tell someone. When he got home all of the children were excited. Linda said the neighbors were out on the circle talking about it. His daughter had been shopping in the mall when a lady came out yelling “the blacks can hold the priesthood.” Bill had heard through the grapevine that people were running up shaking hand with blacks at the University of Utah. His son is best friends with Don Olson’s son. Linda talked with Mrs. Olson. She had called parents back East and told them. They were quite put out by it. Their reaction was, “why would they do a thing like that?” She said it was a revelation. They said, ‘Oh.” The First Presidency letter was read in Sacrament meeting. Watched KUTV. Brother Freeman, the first ordained, was in the stake he had moved from. Was excited that the bishopric had initiated it immediately. Jeff told Linda some rumor that this was one of the two last signs of the times. Couldn’t help but think what would he have said to Mutual in Manhattan ward. One of the men he had baptized in 1963 had been made scoutmaster in that ward. He had produced a scout troop and a Mutual. Bill had been there at Halloween a few years ago. It was more minority group than Anglo. Thrilled for New York.

Glen: Brother Pyper said the Twelve were told a week ago Thursday (June 1).

LJA about Davis: They were in the temple at 10:30 a.m. for the marriage of his daughter and Elder Hanks came in at 10:30, said he had just stepped in from the room in the temple a few steps away. He had something to tell them. They would be the first ones to know. Told them about the revelation. Meeting at 7:00, had been until 10:30 getting out. Every member of the General Authorities had been asked to respond individually and bear his testimony and give his response. Said they were all weeping and sobbing and they were so pleased. Not only the content but that the Lord had been in touch with President Kimball. Brother Hanks apparently told Davis how he had responded, and we’ll get that later when Davis joins us. 

Bruce: Several years ago at University of Washington, during the Winter of 1970, the issue of Church and the priesthood was vexing. Blacks had become an issue. BYU wrestling team was wrestling against the University of Washington. Several radical students broke in and threw acid on wrestlers. One University of Washington player had his eyesight damaged. Things started to develop and build from there. First week in March or late February, 1970, all kinds of destructions. People speaking against the Church. Thousands of students marching around. Closed university down for two days. Ripping out phones, etc. Didn’t know Bruce was a Mormon. He took all of his books home because of the riots. When he lived in Canada he accepted the policy on faith. Living in Seattle it became a personal experience. Others, in Canada, couldn’t relate to the burden like he could. They asked, Why are you concerned with such an issue? It wasn’t as big of an issue there. To hear the revelation Friday lifted weight off his back. He had accepted the policy on faith.

Bruce was in the office here when Debbie was talking to Ron. Word started getting around. Richard ran out and got an early edition of Deseret News.

Really couldn’t believe it until it was absolutely confirmed. Called parents a couple of hours later in Canada. Very thrilled, as much because it was a revelation. Were audibly moved. Isn’t it beautiful that the prophet can still say that the Lord speaks to him? That was a big element in the elation. Bruce has been very impressed with President Kimball and his speeches and the things he has done. Thrilled to hear President Kimball had been supplicating the Lord. We don’t know the process of revelation, but it seems to depend upon the nature and spirituality and readiness of the people to receive it. The Lord expects us to get in tune with him. Part of the credit goes to President Kimball in this respect. In his ward they had the stake president meeting Sunday morning. The president read the letter. He was very elated and bore strong testimony about the prophet receiving revelation. People think the fact the prophet said it was by revelation will help overcome problems. Took awhile to sink in. How momentous it is historically.

Gordon: Friday morning he went into Earl Olson’s office for some reason– to show that nobody told anybody here in advance. All were out by their desks. Theresa Shelby’s husband had called her. Earl was beaming and overjoyed. Came in here and all were gathering. Went to third floor. Tom Miller had called Spencer Kimball’s bodyguard. Finally had it confirmed. Elder Durham came to bring a copy of the letter to Leonard for the Journal History. Everybody started xeroxing the letter. Gordon felt like it was the lifting of a burden. He thought we should have had a prayer service. He was very curious to se what Tom Truitt’s reaction was. They said that Tom had gotten advance word of it. He called Monroe Fleming. Looked to see if anybody was upset. Sister Romney said, “Well, now Sterling McMurrin can be happy.” Noticed two or three of the older people here were very quiet about it. Gordon was very impressed with how elated the younger people’s reactions were.

Everything at the office stopped until about 12:15. Everybody was xeroxing copies of the news clipping and the letter and Earl wasn’t concerned about who was paying for it. Becky Cornwall was supposed to read a paper on Brigham Young and Methodism in the Andrew Jenson Club. She broke down after a few pages and asked to leave, overcome by the news. Myron Sorenson from Church Law Department was there. He pointed out that Wisconsin had taken away the Church’s tax-exempt status and tithing could not be listed as a tax-exempt deduction. Hawaii was moving to this policy also because of the discrimination against blacks. They wouldn’t sell state land to the Church. This is something that could be spreading to other areas. When Gordon went home his parents didn’t say anything. He thinks people over about 50 are going to have a harder time accepting it. Had heard that the Church tried to low-key the situation. Channel Two sent people out to interview people. Most people were elated. But there were fellows about thirty who looked like heads of families who didn’t look particularly happy but accepted this as a revelation. They were either elated or they accepted it as a revelation.

Gordon didn’t hear much about it in Sunday meetings. In prayers people mentioned things about revelation. In stake conference they called on a girl to bear her testimony and she mentioned it. The stake president read the letter and said a more important revelation was the one to strengthen our families and homes and cut down on time and money. The bishop in sacrament meeting mentioned that some people would have trouble over it but they should pray about it and gain a testimony. Couldn’t help but recall when he was in Chile first branch. One of the first members was a Negro. They had trials because of color. Gordon doesn’t know how much impact this will have. The Catholic monsignor said this was an internal matter and wouldn’t comment on it. Gordon heard comment as to what this would do to the Church in South Africa. If we go into Africa for missionary work, then it will have an impact on the Church.

Ron Walker: Recalled one congregation in the South. A black lady had been praying for which Church was true and received the name of the Church. She couldn’t get anyone to follow through with her, so she organized her own church and called it by the same name and ordained herself a high priestess, organized a congregation.

Gordon: Said he felt this would be a real sifting kind of thing; some people won’t accept it. 

Bruce: His bishop read the letter in sacrament meeting and for the first time since he was bishop he was moved with the message and bore his testimony.

Gordon: Educated people have been tremendously thrilled by it.

Bill: California news media linked it with the possibility of priesthood for women.

Ron Esplin: Channel Five covered it quite well. There were comments on Dialogue that were a little disturbing. Got Dean May to act as summary commentator for Channel Five. He did very well. What he expressed to Ron, however, was more moving and eloquent than what he said on TV under pressure. We should get video of coverage for the Archives.

Ron Esplin: The issue started for Ron early in the week. G. Homer Durham called him after reading the Bringhurst article in the current issue of Utah Historical Quarterly. He stated not to mention it to anybody but he had a personal request. Granny Gates (Susa Young) is one of the family. Burden placed on Brigham Young. Wants to know what alternatives there were. Did it come from Joseph? Ron spent a couple of days on it. Discussed it with Elder Durham for half an hour. He asked for copies of documents. Spent next day reviewing possibilities and writing a twelve-page impressionistic summary to introduce the documents. Didn’t get it to Elder Durham until after he had left for an appointment. He didn’t read it until after the announcement. Question is, Where did the policy of exclusion come from? Brigham or Joseph? Bringhurst’s article leads one to conclude that it came from Brigham Young. If you take Brigham Young at face value you can’t believe that. It came before his time. Ron convinced that Brigham Young drew it from Joseph. Nowhere do we see that on this day we received a revelation, but Ron personally feels it came from the Holy Order in Nauvoo. It was not a cultural or policy thing that Brigham Young could change. Ron was very excited to see that it was by revelation. 

When Ron came to office on Friday morning Debbie had typed the paper for Elder Durham. She thought Elder Durham had requested it because of the rumor she had heard. She said that Kathy’s mother in the Church magazines had called it down. Then someone had talked to Elder Haight’s secretary and they said they couldn’t comment. Could it be? asked Debbie. They talked more and then Ron said, it seems unlikely but it is certainly possible. Within an hour it was confirmed from every direction. Personal feeling was one of tremendous interest and joy. Had had experiences in mission field that were emotional for missionaries and blacks involved. Ron’s first thinking was what it would mean to people who could not accept the gospel before. Had opportunity to talk to Dick Palmer from New York. Read the article to him. He said if that was true he would really have a scoop.

Ron gave a fireside last night with family members of the Sao Paulo temple presidency. Several had been missionaries in Brazil. It was obviously pleasing to them. Ron has had some very good experiences but limited experiences with blacks. Grew up with two boys that were close to his age in his ward. He had never felt any personal prejudice that he could identify. Hadn’t been something he felt as a burden he was carrying. Yet he felt a lifting of a burden he didn’t know he had. Several members expressed their personal feelings and felt the same way. Institutional impact will be great because of profound effect on individuals who feel a new sense of freedom and energy and pride to go out and say we do believe in the brotherhood of all men. Had new high councilman put in at stake conference. Was non-Caucasian. Gave testimony with great deal of emotion. He had very close friend who had been a member of the Genesis group until he emigrated to Canada, partly because of feelings in the community over this issue. He was concerned about how the priesthood would affect his children. Visited a General Authority. By the time your boy is old enough to have the priesthood this will he solved to your satisfaction, he was told. His boy is twelve this year.

Ron’s brother called Sunday night from Arizona. He has been married about a year to a Catholic. Her family used the announcement as an occasion to put tremendous pressure on her about the Church. Brought priest over. Told her Church was flimsy in beliefs. Ron was pleased to find how his family had received it. Never had an opportunity to discuss the matter with them at length before. Mother was very emotional about it. Great sense of relief. Father-in-law of Mexican background, was very pleased, as was mother-in-law. Ron felt overall that it is going to have a lot of impact down the line as we have a chance to act on it. This makes changes in his heart. Feels differently about blacks today now that we have a responsibility for them rather than a reluctance to share the gospel with them. Even though we accepted the position before as being God-ordained, we now have a superior moral position.

Davis: Has found our past position impossible to defend except to say that he doesn’t understand it. Tried to play a constructive role but felt handicapped. Going to France with President Kimball’s group in 1976, Davis was interested in the male chorus that sang. Looking around he saw several blacks in the group, maybe eight or ten. The thought ran through his head, they must be Church members; how do they handle the problem? He had several conversations with Gene Orr. Gene told Davis of his conversion. Missionaries gave lessons. You need to pray about this, they said. Gene just loved to pray, he read the scriptures. One can’t help but feel the sense of joy they must feel now.

Davis’s family heard it in the sealing room in the temple. When Marion D. Hanks came in the room he sat down and was kind of shocked. He said to Davis, “Do you know what is happening within these walls?” Davis said, ”Yes, forty marriages.” He said, ”No, Davis, something more important. A revelation has been received having to do with who may receive the priesthood.” Davis said, ”You mean…” He said, “Yes, I mean…” He then stated what the First Presidency statement was. It had just come from a meeting that had lasted all morning. What an experience! Many tears had been shed, tears of joy. “When they called on me to express my reaction (supposedly they all had a chance to do this) I told the whole group how overjoyed I was at this,” Elder Hanks said. For many years, although he had not spoken against the Church and had done his best to support it, he had had to deal with this issue with young people throughout the Church. He mentioned specifically a group at Stanford and how he tried to calm their concerns. He said, “I have to admit that my heart has been cracked over this issue. What a marvelous thing this has been.” He said, “I realize this has nothing to do with the wedding.” “We were all sitting on the edge of our seats,” said Davis. “I worked hard to hold back the tears.”

Brother Hanks added, “You know, there is no one who would have rather made this announcement than President McKay. President McKay had a deep concern over this issue and wanted to see it resolved; and he too pled with the Lord but the time was just not ripe.”

Leonard interjected that he knew that Brother Lee was also concerned with this issue, and shortly before his death he too fasted and prayed in the upper room of the temple and pled with the Lord on it but received no response. So the time was not ripe then either.

An unforgettable setting for them to hear the news. Thought later, if you came back from a trip and had not heard this you wouldn’t believe it. Brother Hanks did add that to him this was just a further tribute to President Kimball’s greatness. President Lee was a neighbor too; he was in their ward. He said, “You know, President Lee was so dynamic and everyone thought he would be president of the Church for twenty years and would accomplish many big things. And he was succeeded by this little man who is the most humble and most modest of all the General Authorities. What he has done-one thing after another, and then this!”

Davis has not heard one negative reaction. People of all ages, including his mother, have been positive. There will be some generation gap of that kind. Those who lived through the civil rights movement and have had great sensitivity to this issue view this with great relief.

Davis’s new in-laws are from Houston. Houston is maybe 40 or 50 percent black–quite different from Salt Lake City. Father of the groom said some people might have a little trouble with this. Paul Anderson’s brother Steve called from Houston and said the same thing.

Miscellaneous comments from the group:

There have always been groups that have been excluded from the priesthood. This will be the first time that is not true.

This was not the beginning but it commenced ten or fifteen years before in South America when they made the decision that they would preach the gospel to those whose pedigrees were not proven pure.

David O. McKay was concerned that they had required people to trace their lineage. He was in South Africa and thinking about Brazil. Good men couldn’t always trace their genealogy out of South Africa. Without consulting anyone he made a decision not to require it. He came back to the Quorum of the Twelve and told them what he had done and said this ought to apply as well to Brazil. 

The meeting closed with a prayer by Leonard, on behalf of the group, expressing appreciation to the Lord for the revelation and for “our great prophet, Spencer W Kimball.”

Maureen later reported to LJA that she came to work shortly after the news had been confirmed and that as she walked in everybody was standing around looking at her searchingly as if to know whether she had heard the news. She said, “What’s up?” Ron Esplin said, “Well there’s good news and bad news.” She said, “I will take the good news first.” So he gave this news. Presently she went off into a corner and had her moment of crying for joy. Then at the Andrew Jenson club Becky Cornwall had been scheduled to give her paper on Brigham Young’s Methodist roots. She delivered a part of it and then said, “I just can’t finish this. I just don’t feel like it. I feel too full emotionally.” So she left. Those who were there, however, remained to talk for some time about it and the implications. That evening Maureen had a study group in her home. Myron Sorenson was there and talked about some of the legal implications. Some others who had been friendly with the Genesis Group talked about them. They discussed the implications for blacks, the implications for missionary work and temple work, particularly in Brazil, and implications for the Church. 

Sunday morning their Sunday School class taught by Dan McConkie, son of Oscar, discussed it. Apparently when he got the word Oscar went to Bruce’s office to ask him about it. Bruce said only “The revelation was presented on June 1 in a meeting between the First Presidency and ten members of the Quorum of the Twelve.” Bruce then said, “I am very busy getting ready to fly to Latin America where I have been assigned to go and implement the revelation.” He said nothing further about it. 

There are, of course, some people who are disturbed about the possibilities

of miscegenation, and there are some people who express a certain fear of shaking hands with and being affectionate with blacks. But by and large Maureen’s friends were very grateful and happy. Nedra adds that when she heard it Maureen came in and smiled very broadly as if making a good joke and said, ”Now the blacks, next the women.”

Richard Jensen, who was absent from the meeting, later furnished LJA with the following statement. News bulletins telling of the new revelation opening the priesthood ordination to worthy Black Church members came over the air shortly after 11 a.m. on June 9, and Historical Department employees soon received telephone calls from family members who had heard the news. Word spread quickly in the office, and we gathered spontaneously to get our facts straight and discuss it. My initial reaction was more cautious than I might have expected: could I be sure it had really happened? I ran to the Hotel Utah and bought copies of the Deseret News just off the press; and when I saw it in print the real thrill came in full force. The wording of the First Presidency’s announcement seemed beautiful to me in its calm, firm affirmation that a revelation had been received and in the deep concern it showed for faithful Black members of the Church.

I puzzled a little over the lessons to be learned from this revelation in connection with work my colleague Ron Esplin had done with statements by Brigham Young about Negroes and the priesthood. On the one hand, this seemed to confirm the notion that revelation was needed before such a change could be justified. On the other hand, I could not square everything President Young had said (for example, all the descendants of Abel would have to receive the opportunity to bear the priesthood before the Negroes were allowed that privilege) with what the revelation announced. My tentative conclusion was that although prophets generally are inspired to lead their people in the right course of action at any given point in time, one cannot assume that all the explanations they give are necessarily valid.

A Sunday School teacher expressed a feeling I seemed to share with many others: it felt good to have revelations which were declared to be revelations come forth in our time. One ward member had a telephone call from his mother, who had often stated she would leave the Church if the Negroes ever were given the priesthood. He thinks she will hack down now–reluctantly. I interviewed a convert from the South who said that he has had prejudices all his life–he is under thirty–but that he could adjust with some difficulty to the change and now perhaps modify those of his own attitudes which are not appropriate. He is quite anxious to know just what the Church’s policy will now be on interracial marriage, and I suspect that a great many people are now hoping to see that clarified. In the past it has always angered him to see Negroes and whites dating or marrying, and he has felt his anger was based largely on the injustice of saddling the descendants of a mixed marriage with the impossibility of receiving the priesthood. A number of people have voiced the thought that this revelation must be another sign that the second coming of e Savior is near. I believe many had expected to see the second coming before the Negroes would receive the priesthood–if indeed they ever would receive it.

Glen Leonard reported further on his experiences: Friday night, he said, our carpool discussed the announcement as we drove home and the question that the hotel employee had raised came up again, about the reasons for the change. I had had an opportunity to read the statement carefully by then and told the carpool that I was impressed by the final paragraph of the statement where the emphasis was upon preaching the gospel to all nations. “President Kimball has been telling us emphatically in recent years that the gospel must be carried to every nation, and he has emphasized every. Think about his talks at recent conferences and his concern to carry the gospel to all the world,” I said. When he had been making these comments my mind had been turned to Communist countries that are now closed. But now his statements have another meaning, and I can visualize an expansion of work in Africa.

I said also that I wondered if the Brazil Temple didn’t have some effect on timing. As dedication nears on that temple the question about a fraction of black ancestry among the Brazilian Saints is certain to become more of an issue than it has been already, and certainly the question of giving these Saints the priesthood has been a problem.

One member of the carpool said that in the Operations and Maintenance Division, the phone rang all afternoon and the secretary at the front desk was responding to calls from bishops and stake presidents calling to get confirmation of the news reports. These people had O&M’s phone numbers and figured they could learn what was going on from them.

Saturday, one of the reporters at UPI in Salt Lake City called me at home. “Do you know where I can get hold of the latest issue of Utah Historical Quarterly? The Society isn’t open on Saturday, is it?” he asked. “The issue with that article…?” “Yes, that article…” I told him to try Sam Weller’s. “Sam Weller is sold out.” I told him he could get a xerox copy at the Church Historical Department Library. He decided the Church was closest but was surprised to learn that they would make a copy for him. I reassured him that they would. Then I gave him a reference to Lester Bush’s article in Dialogue and told him that would give him additional background information. That’s all he wanted, background information for an article he was writing. 

At priesthood meeting Sunday morning, our Seventies group–four of us (in the Bountiful 24th Ward)–talked briefly about the announcement. One of the men wondered if any of us had understood that giving the Blacks the priesthood was one of the signs preceding the beginning of the Millennium. A couple of them had vague ideas to that effect, and another said he thought some of the General Authorities had taught that the Negroes could not hold the priesthood until everyone else had had that opportunity, which had been interpreted to mean the Millennium.

Bishop DuWayne Squire read the First Presidency letter in the opening exercises of priesthood meeting and commented on it briefly. He said he saw it as an important announcement and confirmation of the Lord’s guiding hand in the Church and evidence of President Kimball’s calling as a prophet. At Sacrament Meeting, Bishop Squire said he had decided not to read the letter again, because most everyone would have gotten the information from the newspapers, but that Brother Ross Pyper had shared some personal feelings with his gospel doctrine class at Sunday School and invited him to share it with the ward (without any prior notice).

Brother Pyper sings in the Tabernacle Choir in the tenor section and runs the barber shop at Deseret Gym and thus has a close personal contact with General Authorities, including President Kimball, whose hair he cuts regularly. Ross said on Friday he had heard rumors that there was to be an important announcement, so he kept the TV on, and about 10:00 or 10:30 he heard it. He said he was surprised but accepts it as a direct revelation from God. One of the Twelve had an appointment for a haircut that day and was elated. He told Ross that he had heard about it a week earlier, and that the other General Authorities had been called into a 7 a.m. meeting Friday and informed. Ross said he wondered how President Kimball looked; Ross had known him for eight years and had seen him under all kinds of situations: he had seen the President under the weight of problems; had seen him with Bell’s palsy so bad he had to be helped around; bad seen him in moods of quiet concern, but whatever his mood he was always friendly. President Kimball had seemed to show the additional weight of the presidency since becoming president. Ross said Elder Ashton reported that President Kimball feels beautiful about it, and Ross said he could imagine the way “President” looked.

On Saturday, Elder Haycock called the shop and said “President” was leaving for Hawaii for the temple rededication, and needed a haircut before he left. Could it be arranged? Ross was giving missionaries haircuts and told Elder Haycock to come right over. Ross said he did not tell the missionaries who was coming, and they were noisily chatting away. When President Kimball arrived at the door with Brother Anderton, his security guard, the shop went suddenly quiet, and all of the elders arose as if they had been lifted up together and rushed to greet President Kimball. He greeted them with open arms and embraced them and loved them. The President was happy, buoyant, and warm. An Elder Hernandez, a Mexican elder, stood back, was hesitant to come forward, but “President” took him in his arms and embraced him. One elder said that when he was four years old in Indiana he had met the prophet, who had come there to set his father apart as a bishop or stake president. And Elder Kimball had given this boy a dollar for his mission fund and had promised him that the next time he saw him would be at the mission home. The missionary said that he had just arrived an hour ago, and President Kimball responded quietly, “I know.”

Reference was made to the new revelation, and President Kimball replied, “Isn’t it beautiful!” He asked the elders if they had heard the announcement and told them that it would make their work easier. Ross said the shop was relatively quiet with no one wanting to talk, and President Kimball did most of the talking. The prophet repeated several times, “Isn’t it beautiful!” From time to time someone would come by the shop, see the president inside, come in and embrace him. Most people had very little to say, they were so overcome by the beauty of the experience.

Ross said he has very personal feelings about President Kimball and knows he is a prophet. He said he could see that the prophet has a great weight off his shoulders. He is happy, well, buoyant, and alive. He needs our prayers to keep him alive beyond his years. He is a prophet of God.

(These were Ross Pyper’s comments at Bountiful 24th ward Sacrament meeting, reconstructed from the notes Glen took during the meeting.) 

[Meeting with Staff Members; LJA Diary, 12 June, 1978]

I heard this morning a report that one of the immediately precipitating factors of the new revelation was the projected opening of the temple in Brazil and the many questions which were raised about it which were taken to President Kimball and which he felt he had to take to the Lord. There is a large number of members of the Church in Brazil which appear to have some black African ancestors. In the process of shifting the responsibility for genealogical work to individual families–in the process of requiring that people in each temple district be required to furnish names–the people in Brazil were extremely hesitant. They were not anxious to do their genealogical work and provide names which would be used in temple work there.

According to this report President Kimball discussed these matters with the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency and then decided to go to the Lord, and he decided to keep praying until he received a definite answer one way or the other. The answer which he finally received was presented to the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency in their meeting of the temple the morning of June 1. This was then presented to a general meeting of all the General Authorities including First Presidency, Quorum of Twelve, First Quorum of Seventy, the Presiding Bishopric, and Presiding Patriarch the morning of June 9. 

[LJA Diary, 13 June, 1978]

How I heard the news of the new revelation that opened the priesthood to all races, and some reactions to it.

James B. Allen

June 13, 1978

I heard the news of the new revelation on Friday, June 9, while I was vacationing with my family in southern California. In the early afternoon, after spending the morning in Tijuana, Mexico, we were driving northward toward Nevada. The announcement came over a local radio station. To say the least, I was thrilled. This was something I had been hoping for for along time, and it made me feel warm and comforted all over. One reason that it was especially gratifying to me was that I have been studying and thinking so much lately about the process of change in the Church. I have even written an article on it that may or may not be published in the Ensign [see July 79, p. 31], and I find that some people are strangely reluctant to discuss the reality of dramatic changes. But this is one of the most important changes ever to come in Church policy, and it was therefore especially meaningful to me. One of my first thoughts was that I had just finished participating in some Education Week programs in South Carolina and in the Washington, D.C. area, and one of my main talks was on the process of change in the Church. I called it “Constancy Amid Change,” and emphasized the concept of continuing revelation as the key to change. I got the feeling that, perhaps, some of the things I had said may have helped someone accept this change when it came. At any rate, here is a beautiful example of the dynamics of change in the Church–many contemporary situations that cause the issue to arise more and more frequently, long and earnest prayer by the prophet, and then a revelation in which the prophet said that it had been “confirmed” to him that it was the time for all races to have the priesthood. I suppose I was almost as pleased with the evidence of continuing revelation that could bring about such a change as I was with the change itself. But whatever the case, I was warmed and thrilled–and felt great joy for the blacks in the church who had been waiting for so long.

I thought of a number of blacks–but in particular I thought of Abner Howell, who is now dead. I had the pleasure of participating in an interview with him in California many years ago, and he said some things about the history of the blacks in the Church that were very interesting. But mainly I was impressed with his devotion to the Church-I hope his temple work is done soon. And I am sure my thoughts are much like the thoughts of most people in the Church who have known some faithful negroes.

My family reacted very positively. We talked about it for a while–everyone commented on bow good it was–and we wondered what was going on back home. I was disappointed that of all days to be away from the office in Salt Lake, this should be the day. (But I found out later that many of the staff were away from the office that day–so I was not so different.)

My daughter and son-in-law (Kristine and Scott Card) were so excited that they tried to reach us be phone to tell us the news. They left word twice at the motel we expected to stay at in Las Vegas that night, but when we checked in the motel did not give us a message.

We got home Saturday night, and everyone was, of course, talking about it. The reactions of various people were interesting to me.

I went to BYU 6th Stake High Council meeting at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, and President Gill read us the letter. Everyone talked about it in warm, glowing terms, and I was especially interested in the comments of Arthur Henry King. When someone brought up the doctrinal issue, he was very adamant on the idea that this had never been a doctrine–only a policy–and that the scriptures were simply not clear on the idea that the blacks were descended from Cain. I could not have agreed more.

As the discussion went on, President Gill instructed the High Council to discuss the new revelation next Sunday when we make our monthly visits to the wards. But, he told us, he did not want us to use the words “black” or “negro.” Rather, we should use the tone of the letter, and refer to all races. Also, and equally important, we were to talk about the concept of continuing revelation in the Church.

I attended a BYU ward Sunday School class. The young instructor spent a short time on the new revelation, but opened the discussion with an effort to try to define the doctrine as it had been–going to the Pearl of Great Price to try to show that the blacks were descendants of Cain., etc. I spoke up and pointed out that such an interpretation had never been officially pronounced as Church doctrine, and that we should be careful not to raise more questions by perpetuating the idea. The general feeling of the BYU students on this was affirmative, and one of gratitude that this had happened. In fact, everyone I talked to at BYU that day expressed nothing but great support, and often great relief. I sensed this as a general attitude, and this was confirmed Monday night when my daughter came home from a BYU religion class and told about how positive the discussion had been there.

I also went to a Sunday annual class in the Orem 3lst ward. Here the Sunday School teacher, Boyd Call, opened the whole period to a discussion of the issue, and taped the comments. There were many things said–none negative, but all representing different experiences and different understanding of the issue. To me, the most interesting comment came from a man who said, in effect, that during the past two days he had done a lot of reexamining of his own attitudes, and that now he had fully repented of some old attitudes toward the blacks that were wrong. You could tell that he had gone through quite a traumatic experience, but that it had been a positive one for him and that now he was absolutely sincere in his acceptance of the revelation, and of the equality of the blacks in the Church.

So far as the reaction of the BYU faculty is concerned, the only conversations I had on Monday were with the history faculty. Ted Warner was greatly pleased, partly because of his broad, liberal attitude anyway. But, he wondered, how would he, a liberal, feel if now we also got a revelation that the Church must vote Republican? Michael Seibt was delighted with it, but added the news that on Friday evening one of the TV stations ran a long discussion of it that included a quotation from The Story of the Latter-day Saints. The commentator had referred to a recent book on Church history, showed the cover of the book, then turned to page 620 and quoted the first couple of lines of the last paragraph, which were shown on TV as he read them. My son, Michael, called Monday from Billings, Montana, and said he had seen the same newscast up there.

The whole week-end has therefore been a rather uplifting, memorable time, so far as this development is concerned. From talking to BYU students, faculty, and Orem townspeople, I get the feeling that at least in this area there will be no serious problems implementing the new policy.

I was delighted when I arrived at the office in Salt Lake City this morning and found that yesterday the History Division staff had held a meeting and given their reactions. I was invited by Leonard Arrington to write my reaction to add to theirs, which had already been recorded to go into the journal history.

At the same time, I was wondering how Southerners might react. Ted Warner told me Monday that he was concerned about his father-in-law’s possible reaction for he was a typical southern white who had some long-standing pro-segregation attitudes. But today I was visited by some friends from South Carolina, Ted and Beverly Gorka, whom I had met while on the Education Week circuit. Beverly commented on the fact that there was a black in their ward, but that he was already well accepted. She believed there would be no problem of accepting him fully into the priesthood and her personal attitude, at least, was one of very positive acceptance. Her husband is not a Church member, but he was highly pleased with the move. 

[James B. Allen, 13 June, 1978]

Dear Children:

I thought I would take this opportunity of giving to you–and to the readers of my diary in which a copy of this will be placed–some personal reflections on the reasons for the revelation of June 9, giving the priesthood to every worthy male member of every race and color. First, let me say that I believe it to be a revelation as stated. Second, it gave me great joy not only because of this evidence that the Lord speaks to his prophet but also for the substance of the revelation, which now means all of the Lord’s children may go to the temple.

But a historian must ask an additional question. Why did the Lord wait until now? Why has the revelation occurred at this time? As I say, no official explanations have been given on this, and so I am giving my personal and, I hope, informed judgment.

There are two general reasons which must be mentioned at the outset. The first is that from the beginning of the Restoration declarations were made that the gospel would be preached to every nation, kindred, and tongue and that it was to be the privilege of all peoples to go to the holy temple. The following statement was made by Joseph Smith and the First presidency on October 5, 1840, and published in History of the Church volume 4 page 213.

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. 

The second general point is that we have all understood that someday the priesthood would be made available to all worthy male members. This is the way I was brought up; this is the way the matter has been understood by the vast majority of Saints; this is in line with pronouncements of various of our prophets. Let me give some examples.

And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings

in the Holy Priesthood,…they will then come up and possess

the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to. [Brigham Young, S.L.C., August 19, 1866, JD 11:272]

If the Lord could have his own way, he would have all the human family to enter into his church and kingdom, receive the Holy Priesthood and come into the celestial kingdom of our Father and God, by the power of their own choice. [Brigham Young Sermon, 19 Aug. 1866, JD 11:272]

But the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have. [Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964), p. 351]

This…exclusion from the exercise of the rights of the priesthood was pronounced upon these people by the Lord, and it remains in force until He shall see fit to withdraw the decree. [Heber J. Grant letter to Mr. L.H. Wilkin, 28 Jan 1928]

Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the Priesthood. [David O. McKay letter to Lowell Bennion and students at the University of Utah, 3 November 1947]

God’s love would not permit an indefinite continuation of exclusion from the temple of any worthy person.

Cognizant of this general doctrine and hope, President David O. McKay prayed earnestly to the Lord for permission to rescind the rule of exclusion. As I understand it the Lord permitted him to make two decisions during his administration. One of these was to permit all male blacks except those of African ancestry to receive the priesthood. This permitted the ordination of Fiji Islanders. Second, the Lord permitted him to instruct missionaries and local officers that they might ordain persons to the priesthood who were not obviously Negroid and for whom no evidence existed that they had Negro ancestors. In other words, the burden of proof was shifted from the person to prove that he had no black ancestors to a condition in which it was assumed he had none if there was no immediate evidence on that matter. It is my understanding that President McKay was disappointed that he was not permitted by the Lord to go any further than this, but he nevertheless went as far as the Lord would permit. It is my understanding that President Harold B. Lee, shortly before his death, inquired earnestly of the Lord to rescind the exclusion rule. It is my understanding that President Lee spent three days and nights fasting in the upper room of the temple praying to the Lord for guidance on this matter and the only answer that he received was “not yet.”

It is my understanding that President Spencer Kimball has prayed earnestly on this matter for several months and that he finally received the message from the Lord which he then communicated to the Quorum of the Twelve on June 1. The Quorum of the Twelve then prayed for one full week for full assurance and unity on this and they, having received full and positive assurance, then presented the matter to all the General Authorities in a meeting in the temple on June 9. At that meeting each General Authority was asked to give personally his reaction and testimony. Many wept for joy just as I wept when Nedra called me on the 9th. And it was following that meeting, which let out at 10:30 a.m., that the statement of the First President was then typed and distributed to Public Communications and announced to the press. That announcement occurred at 11:30.

As to immediate reasons why the Lord might have permitted the announcement at this particular moment, let me mention four that may have been influential. (1) The Lord may have felt that the Latter-day Saints today are fully prepared to accept blacks as brethren and as leaders. Similarly, the Lord may have felt that black members themselves are fully prepared to exercise the priesthood honorably and to serve as leaders. (2) The opening of the Brazil Temple in August surely would have created problems and anxieties, and the Lord in his mercy may have felt that this was an appropriate time to resolve such difficulties and anxieties. (3) Various states are beginning to refuse to exempt Church property, including temples and chapels and stake houses, from taxation on the grounds that the Church discriminates against blacks. This has already been done by Wisconsin, was being considered in Hawaii, and plans were being made to take the case to other states. (4) The Lord may have felt that the continuation of this doctrine might lead the Saints to become bigoted–to take measures which were prejudicial to the civil rights of the blacks. The Lord may have used this means of reminding us that we are all the Lord’s children and that he is pleased with all of them and that he specifically is displeased with those who spread bigotry.

As I indicated, these are personal reflections based upon “hunches” and intuition. They are an attempt on the part of this one Church member to understand what is going on. If you have additional reflections I hope you will pass them on either by letter or by telephone.

[LJA to Children, 15 June, 1978]

This morning in priesthood meeting, and again in our Sunday School class, Gil Warner was invited to share an experience during the week. He and Nedra had ridden a bus to St. George to attend a meeting of the board of some corporation. Along on the trip also, for the same purpose, were Boyd Packer and his wife. For a part of the trip, Gil was able to sit next to Brother Packer. Gil asked him if he could share some of the experiences which led up to the announcement of the revelation on the priesthood for blacks. Brother Packer said he could share part of the experience part of it he could not share.

Brother Packer said President Kimball had felt it necessary to petition the Lord on this matter. And so, for the past two months he has gone daily to an upper room in the temple to pray specifically for that purpose. On the morning of Thursday, June 1, he decided to share some of his impressions with the Twelve. He asked them, in advance, to fast for the purpose. He and they then spent some time discussing the problem in its various aspects. At a certain point in the discussion, President Kimball then asked if he might give a prayer on behalf of the group. So he went to the altar and prayed earnestly to the Lord. At a certain point in the prayer, Elder Packer stated, all present became aware of what the decision must be. He did not say what happened; this is no doubt the part which he was forbidden to tell. But there was some kind of manifestation, presumably which was plain to all those present. As Brother Packer referred to this he sobbed–something which he does not commonly do. Obviously, it was a tender experience.

President Kimball finished the prayer. Then Elder Benson said: “We all are aware of what has happened. Now what should we do about it? President Romney spoke up and said, “Let’s take a week to formulate a statement to announce it to the other general authorities and to the Church.” So in the subsequent week the statement which appeared in the papers was drawn up. Presumably it was read to the Twelve in their June 8 meeting. It was then read to all the general authorities. The authorities were then asked to comment on it, one by one. When every single one of them indicated their approval, it was then announced to the media, and to the Church as a whole.

In the Priesthood meeting, when Brother Warner had finished telling this, Bill Pulsipher said that on the morning of June 9 he was meeting in a board of directors meeting with Elder Paul Dunn. Elder Dunn was late for the meeting, and as he came in, it was obvious that he had been crying. He then took a few moments to tell the group what had taken place. He emphasized that all at the meeting of the general authorities were certain that this was a revelation from the Lord.

In our Sunday School class, when Brother Warner had finished relating his experience, Sister Mamie Silver raised her hand and stood to give her own experience. As the new revelation was announced, a certain person telephoned her to say that they were leaving the church on account of the announcement. Sister Silver said, “Let me phone my brother, [LeGrande RichardsJ and ask him about it.” So she telephoned Elder Richards, who more or less told the same thing that Elder Packer had told Gil Warner, and emphasized that all of the Twelve were certain it was a revelation from the Lord, and if the telephoning party believed in the Lord, and had a testimony of the truth of the Church and of the prophethood of Spencer W. Kimball, they must accept the revelation as from God. Mamie said she herself believed it and was convinced it was something we must accept.  

[LJA Diary, 18 June, 1978]


The following remarks were given by Brother Bill J. Pope, President of the BYU 7th Stake and brother-in-law of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, at a Sacrament meeting of the Oak Hills 5th Ward on June 18, 1978. President Pope indicated he had permission to quote Elder McConkie and that Elder McConkie had shared this information at a family gathering.

There were two years of preliminary work, prayer, fasting, supplication, by the prophet and those close to him. Great emphasis was focused on the question during the last three months especially in the upper room of the temple on the part of all the General Authorities.

During this period of great emphasis the Prophet invited any of the Brethren to speak and/or write and share their feelings about the issue. Many of the Brethren responded with discussion and cross-examination following.

On Thursday, June 1, 1978 all the General Authorities (except two apostles and several seventies who were out of the country) met in the temple for their regular first Thursday meeting. They came in the attitude of fasting and prayer as is customary. A testimony meeting was held where feelings and comments ran freely. A prayer circle was organized and at the conclusion of the prayer circle everyone was dismissed except the First Presidency and the Twelve (Elder Mark E. Peterson was in Columbia and Delbert Stapley was sick).

President Kimball indicated he wanted another prayer circle commenting that he hoped to receive a revelation on the question of the Blacks and the Priesthood but that if no revelation were received he would defend the Church’s position to his dying day.

President Kimball asked his counselors and the apostles there if he might be the mouth for the prayer–the humility portrayed by the prophet in making the request was indeed heart touching–just prior to the prayer there was again some discussion–the Brethren were very informal and didn’t necessarily follow seniority as they spoke. Elder McConkie spoke for about ten minutes as did Elder Packer and others. President Kimball then offered a magnificent prayer that lasted about ten minutes–the words of the prayer were indeed the words of the Lord. Elder McConkie compared the feeling and experience that transpired to the day of Pentecost and the beautiful experience that transpired in the Kirtland Temple at its dedication. (Several of the Brethren of the early days of this dispensation were there.)

Both President Kimball and Elder McConkie said that the experience that day was the single greatest experience of their lives.

The First Presidency wrote the official letter making the announcement to the world. Elder Peterson was called to approve the letter as was Elder Stapley.

All the General Authorities present approved the revelation. Heber Wolsey, director of communication for the Church, was given the letter to release to the press. He went after reading the letter. He then made the official announcement to the news media.

[Circumstances surrounding revelation; Prepared by George Pace, 18 June, 1978]

We had another hour of discussing the revelation of June 9 in our High Priest Quorum this morning. Brother Courtney Weggeland, who had just returned from a visit in Southern California, said he wanted to know the reaction here. Said that some people there were concerned that so many of the few blacks that were members were on welfare. They join the Church, go on Church Welfare. A ward finally gets fed up and cuts them off, so they move into another ward and start the process there.

A few persons wished to make comments. Bill Woods said at a “jam session” they held last night at his house, one of the wits, a non-Mormon, asked a Boyle, granddaughter of President Heber J. Grant, if it was true that her grandfather was president of the Church. She said yes. Wasn’t he a prominent businessman? Yes; in fact he was a financier; he got the Church out of the red. Reply: Yes, and Spencer Kimball has put it into the black!

Brother Brockbank said he thought that blacks were not part of the lineage of Adam. They come from a pre-Adamic race. Said B. H. Roberts had made a case for a pre-Adamic race, but they had not been able to publish it because Joseph Fielding objected. The first time I had heard that concept of pre-Addmic race applied to the blacks. Brother Badger objected strongly to that interpretation.

Jim Thorne said he had been a captain of a black company during World

War II, and he didn’t like them; hated them; they almost killed him; called them Niggers. Said he knew it was a revelation and that he had a lot of repenting to do, and realized that it would be a difficult adjustment for him, but he would have to cultivate love, bless them that curse him, do good to those that unjustly use him, and so on. Tobe Tucker said his son Brett had written from Thailand that they had a former soldier who had married a Thai girl and was a member of their branch in Thailand. He was a good man and the Saints there loved and respected him. He was ordained on their Sunday after they received a cable about the revelation. Since that was our Saturday, he was probably the first ordained black in the Church. 

One High Priest asked President Murdock, the Patriarch, of what lineage were the Blacks. How does one describe their lineage in a patriarchal blessing. President Murdock said he had never given a blessing to a black, but he knew there might come a day. He has asked some general authorities and other patriarchs about it, and they will only say, “It’s between you and the Lord. We can’t advise you how to handle categories. You must rely on the spirit at the time the blessing is given.” For myself, I was always brought up on the notion that blacks were from the tribe of Manasseh, but that must be wrong. This is when Allen Brockbank said they were not of the lineage of Adam. But of course Cain and Ham were. How is that handled? I don’t know. By adoption, they can be of the tribe of Ephraim. And most blacks, anyway, are at least half white, and usually even more than that.

[LJA Diary, 25 June, 1978]

Notes on a conversation between  Jay Todd, 26 June 1978, and Joseph Fielding McConkie, reported by Jay Todd, combined with notes on a conversation between Oscar McConkie and Jay Todd, 27 June 1978. (Material by JFM in parentheses.) 

Subject: The circumstances of the revelation to grant the priesthood to all worthy male members of the Church, discussed ”last week” at a family gathering by Elder Bruce H. McConkie.

The First Presidency had been interested in the topic for years, President Kimball especially, and “had felt a message coming through.” Last June several of the apostles were invited to submit memos on various implications of the question–historical, medical, sociological, doctrinal, etc., among them Elders Packer, Monson, and McConkie. The First Presidency had made the question a matter of formal prayer in the temple a number of times and had received no revelation, no answer. (JFM had not been present at the family gathering but had contacted his father in a phone conversation later and apparently received the same information and the addition of some other details. He said, at this point, that at one meeting–unclear whether it was all the Twelve or just the First Presidency–that someone commented, “The former presidents of the Church are here,” and President Kimball confirmed it. On a second occasion, one of the men said, “President So-and-So is here,” and President Kimball again confirmed that impression.) 

On 1 June 1978, the General Authorities in town, including the patriarch, presiding bishopric, and seventies, held their joint meeting in the temple. It was an “average meeting, neither better nor worse than they usually had” but at the end, President Kimball did an unusual thing. He asked the Twelve to return, which had never occurred before in BRM’s experience. Ezra Taft Benson was already out of earshot and had to be fetched back.

President Kimball then reviewed the situation, told the feelings of the First Presidency, explained what they’d been doing for the past times, and asked for responses. BRM, in an unusual breach of protocol, immediately arose and delivered a ten-minute lecture on why the blacks must receive the priesthood before the Millennium. He was followed by Boyd K. Packer, who spoke for ten minutes, bringing up different but equally persuasive reasons, and then by Elder Monson. The remaining General Authorities present except two (Elder Petersen and Elder Stapley were not present but in South America and ill,, respectively) all spoke extemporaneously and gave their strong reasons. All took totally different points, and all were highly persuasive. President Kimball asked Howard W. Hunter and the other apostle who had not spoken to respond, and they responded very positively. They did not bring up new arguments, simply expressed agreement.

President Kimball then said that as a First Presidency they had prayed many times and had received no answer. He had also prayed many times in the temple alone and had received no answer. We are all united in feeling; we are going to get an answer–yes or no.” He must have felt assured of that by the Spirit. In his humble way, he asked, “Would you mind if I were mouth for this prayer?” They entered into the true order of prayer, and as President Kimball began praying, “The Lord took over and directed his requests. It was obvious that it was an inspired prayer from the language.” Up to that point [apparently prayers had been offered with the Council of the Twelve before or Elder MeConkie would not have been able to report this] President Kimball’s language had been very circumspect: “Would it be proper for us to ask this question?” Now he was direct, communicating on a different level.

At the end of that prayer, a Pentecostal experience occurred. All thirteen experienced and saw “just the way it was at Kirtland.” BRM used that phrase several times in answering specific questions put to him by family members. The rushing of a great wind? “Just like Kirtland.” Angelic choirs? “Just like Kirtland.” Cloven tongues of fire? [Elder McConkie reportedly said that during this experience he came to understand, for the first time, just what was meant by “cloven tongues of fire.” LJA.] “Just like Kirtland.” Visitors from across the veil? “Just like Kirtland.” They had “an incredible experience.” No matter how his family phrased the question, he refused to say who had come from the other side. One family phrased a question about the presidents of the Church that he sidestepped; and his sister, who had started to write down their names, began crossing then out. He stopped her: “I didn’t say they didn’t come, May. I just said I wasn’t telling.” (JFM reported that Joseph Smith had come to instruct them in the doctrine and that a great portion of the time was taken up with matters “pertaining to futurity and the course of the Church in the future,” not related to the priesthood issue directly.)

By the end (no indication of how long it lasted), everyone was weeping. BRM: ”President Kimball has had many many revelations. He is the preeminent seer since Joseph. And he said it was the greatest spiritual experience of his life.” Marion G. Romney has had many revelations, and Ezra Taft Benson has seen many many visions. All agreed that it surpassed any previous experience. When BRM was called as a General Authority he had an “incredible experience” that he has shared with family members but forbidden them to tell. His sister, who had asked four years ago if anything had equaled it and had been told no, asked him to compare the two. “There was no comparison,” he said.

Did they see the same things? If it was “just like Kirtland” they saw and reported different things and concurred in the seeing.

President Kimball’s grandfather came to him at the time he was called. He had the experience of seeing his posterity as yet unborn down through the generations. He said that this was the “preeminent religious experience of his life.”

All were weeping and embracing at the end. President Kimball went around the room and embraced every man there. The Twelve normally have their own meeting afterward, but were “unable to continue.” They were completely overcome. President Kimball collected his counselors, though, and said, “We have work to do,” and held the First Presidency meeting, going through a complete agenda. 

A family member asked BRM: “Why did you all see it? Why didn’t just President Kimball receive it and you receive confirmation of it?” He answered, “Because it will take all thirteen to witness of it in the kinds of changes that will have to take place.”

Nothing happened for a week, then at the Thursday temple meeting on June 8, they discussed how to announce it. Some wanted to wait until October conference, others for the mission presidents seminar the following week. BRM argued strongly for immediate release for two reasons: It’ll leak, and “we have to beat Satan. He’ll do something between now and then to make it appear that we’re being forced into it.” This course was adopted. Both Elder McConkie and Elder Packer were asked to submit drafts of the announcement. Elder Packer told Elder McConkie that “they chose your draft.” Elder Mcconkie said, “It was the First Presidency’s letter.” 

On June 9, the other General Authorities were asked to come to an early meeting, fasting, to the temple. President Kimball told them the decision and asked for responses. Franklin D. Richards spoke first as senior president of the quorum, following by BRM again giving an impassioned extemporaneous lecture on the relevant scriptures, and by President Romney: “I have a confession to make. Whenever we’ve discussed this question, I’ve assured President Kimball that I would support him fully, but if the decision had been left to me, I would have felt that we’ve always had that policy and we would stick to it no matter what the opposition. I have now changed my position 180 degrees. I am not just a supporter of this decision. I am an advocate.” Every one of the Seventies spoke. According to Dean Larsen, they voiced approval to a man. Marion D. Hanks was reported so overcome that he could not speak. 

[Conversation between Jay Todd and Joseph Fielding McConkie, 27 June, 1978]

James was down Thursday evening to have dinner with us-no, to stay with us an hour before he went out to dinner with Melody Monch. Anyway, he told us he has learned the nature of the manifestation in the temple that led Church officials to refer to the “revelation” on the Priesthood. He said he learned this information from George Pace, his stake president and former teacher of religion at BYU. George Pace, he said, learned it from Elder Bruce McConkie, who was present in the meeting where it occurred.

There was the regular monthly meeting of the General Authorities in the temple on Thursday, July 1. At the conclusion of the meeting President Kimball asked that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve remain for a few moments. President Kimball then told that group, in their own meeting, that he felt impressed to pray to the Lord. And during that prayer President Kimball felt assured of the response of the Lord that the Priesthood might be given to all worthy males regardless of race and color. During that prayer there also appeared some of the past presidents of the Church as witnesses that they approved. Brother Pace did not know, or did not tell, whether there were two prophets or how many. Perhaps Elder McConkie did not tell him. Nor did he know, or tell, who the Prophets were who appeared. Again, perhaps Elder McConkie did not tell him. Nor did he know, or tell, whether all those present saw this manifestation or only a few, or only President Kimball. Once more, perhaps Elder McConkie did not tell him. In any case, some of the Prophets appeared to one or more of the Brethren in that meeting during President Kimball’s supplication and indication of response. It must have affected the Brethren very deeply, as suggested by the emotional response of Elder Packer in telling Gil Warner of it, as indicated in my diary entry of a few days back.

So this was the nature of the manifestation. If I ever hear more of this, I shall of course, place it in my dairy for the benefit of future historians. I have told only Davis Bitton of this manifestation, and shall expect to tell Jim Allen next Thursday. I do not expect to tell it to others unless asked to do so. 

[LJA Diary, 1 July, 1978]

Davis said this morning that on Sunday during the testimony meeting of his ward, Arlington Heights ward, Elder Haight, a member of that ward, arose ten minutes before the testimony meeting would normally have been concluded and said, “I should like to take the last ten minutes, if that will be all right, to share with you, with the members of my own ward, some of the circumstances surrounding the announcement on June 9.” The story which he told is substantially the same as that which I have reported earlier in this diary, but there are two or three new things. First, Brother Haight said that President Kimball had been praying about this matter for several weeks. He had discussed all of the implications of it with each member of the Twelve individually and with some groups. Apparently the matter had been weighing on his mind for many weeks.

Second, after the other General Authorities had left the regular meeting on June 1 and the Twelve and First Presidency remained behind at the request of President Kimball, President Kimball in his very quiet and humble manner said, “We customarily begin these meetings by all kneeling around the alter. Normally I ask one of you to offer the prayer. I feel impressed that I should offer the prayer today. Would that be all right with all of you? Would anybody object to that?” “Of course nobody would object,” said Brother Haight in reporting this. In the prayer he pled with the Lord, but his wording to the Lord was “we seek to know thy will on this matter.” So he was just asking for the Lord to tell them in some way His will. Third, “when the prayer was over,” said Brother Haight, “all of us knew what the answer was. We knelt around the alter in the order of our seniority in the Quorum, and so I am number 12, and for that reason I am next to President Kimball, who is of course number 1. At the end of the prayer President Kimball embraced me, then embraced several other members of the Quorum. Obviously this was a very emotional experience for all of them. Elder Benson then said, “We know what we must do. Now, how shall we go about it?” And that is when they decided to have a statement drawn up.

Third, the statement was worked over for several days. All of them had a hand in it. All of them had the opportunity to consider individually and collectively each word and each phrase so that the statement itself is not presumed to be dictated by the Lord but worked out by the Brethren to convey the answer which the Lord had revealed to them. It will be interesting now to see whether they will propose in October conference to place this statement in the Doctrine and Covenants or Pearl of Great Price as a message that goes into our scriptures.

Fourth, Elder Haight gave a tribute to President Kimball–his greatness, his humility, his closeness to the Lord, his leadership. 

[LJA Diary, 5 July, 1978]

This afternoon Paul Anderson came into the office to talk some other business and said he would be glad to share with me what he and Lavina had heard about the revelation of June 9. Lavina had heard it from Jay Todd. Jay Todd had heard it from Joseph Fielding McConkie and Oscar McConkie, both of whom had talked with Jay by telephone shortly after they had heard Bruce McConkie tell about it at a Family Reunion. This must have been a meeting of the McConkie family, held very shortly after June 9, and Bruce had shared the experience and told the family they might tell anything they had heard him say, but “not to embellish it.” The following is based on what Bruce had told the family.

For several months the Twelve and the First Presidency have discussed the problems created by the denial of the Priesthood to blacks. Three persons were appointed to prepare memoranda on the subject: Bruce McConkie, Boyd Packer, and Thomas Monson. They had discussed these matters as a quorum and in smaller committee groups. And President Kimball and the First Presidency had prayed earnestly about this matter–for several months. He (they) had received no direction on the matter. On June 1, President K. had asked the Twelve to remain in the temple with the First Presidency. President K. then told them that, while he had not received direction on the matter, he felt impressed that they must pray this day and that the answer would come this day. Whereupon President Kimball led them in prayer.

President Kimball asked for a manifestation of the Lord’s will on this matter. During the prayer, the Brethren felt the spirit of Pentecost. There was felt (by some at least) the rushing of winds and the burning of fire. The Prophet Joseph Smith appeared. He showed them what must come to pass. He gave them a vision of events to come, of problems and their solutions and consequences. The giving of the priesthood to the blacks was only one aspect of the understanding they were given. There were other personages present, but whether they were recognized was not mentioned by Elder McConkie. At least they played no important role in the communication which took place. 

Several things worth noting. When Elder McConkie was called to be an apostle he had a spiritual experience. He told that experience to his family, but told them not to mention it to other people. He also had a spiritual experience in Chile that was related by him at the time of the conference there a year or so ago when they announced the building of the temple in Brazil and he prophesied that many temples would be built in Chile. In one of the meetings at which the giving of the priesthood to the blacks was discussed by the Quorum of the Twelve in a preliminary way, Elder McConkie felt impressed to intervene in the discussion and speak, out of turn. In this he felt inspired to discuss the last days, to review the scriptures which told of the Second Coming, and to say that the priesthood must be granted to the Negro before the Second Coming. He said it must be done in preparation. Two other members of the twelve arose, out of turn, to give their own feeling about the necessity of giving the Priesthood to the Negro at this time. Elder McConkie, finally, is the person telling of the pentecostal spirit on June 1. Is it possible that only he felt the rushing of wind and the fire? Is it possible that only he saw the Prophet Joseph Smith? Is it possible that only he saw the vision which was presented by the Prophet?

Elder McConkie, Elder Packer, and President Romney have been appointed to discuss the revelation in October conference, this fall.

The story, as it was told to me, has one other aspect, and this may arise from confusion or it may be based on fact. This is that when the First Presidency were earnestly praying, one day prior to June 1, they were visited, in turn, by each of the previous presidents as witnesses that they approved the measures about to be taken. The trouble with this story is that it suggests that the decision was tentative before June 1–a fact that all stories deny. Second, it may confuse the visitations of June 1. Third, it may be based on the fact that researchers had been going over carefully the statements of previous prophets and that this labor may have involved “visiting” with them, and embellished by tellers.

[LJA Diary, 5 July, 1978]

Yesterday, July 24, Grace and I drove downtown, watched the Parade until noon, and then attended the Days of ’47 luncheon in the Lafayette room of the Hotel Utah. Sitting next to us at the head table were President and Sister Kimball. Further down the line, President and Sister Tanner, Governor and Mrs. Matheson, and Governor and Mrs. O’Callaghan of Nevada. I spoke on Mormon colonization. President Kimball indicated that he thought the talk was excellent. He asked me to send him a copy. He leaned over to tell me that he thought very highly of me. Said he thought he had never told me that and he wanted me to know that he thought very much of me. He was very warm and complimentary.

I asked Sister Kimball about the revelation of June 9. She said she did not learn of it until a friend of hers called her sometime after the announcement. Said President Kimball had not said a word to her about it in advance. Said she knew he had great anxiety for several days before the announcement but didn’t know what. He had rent anxiety because he didn’t know for sure how it would be received. President Kimball seemed to be very relaxed and happy on this occasion. 

[LJA Diary, 25 July, 1978]

When I was in Cedar City over the weekend, I spent considerable time with Sterling McMurrin, who is a member of the UEH committee. One of the things he told me was of an interview with Time magazine with regard to the new revelation on priesthood for the blacks. He said he was amazed at the length Time would go to in gaining the interview. A quote from him appears in the Time article for last week, and he said that considerably more in the article was the result of his interview, although they didn’t quote him directly in all of it.

He was in Russia for three weeks. He had gone to Oslo in Norway to give a paper and to make a presentation before some international body. Since his wife had never been to Scandinavia or Russia, she went with him. After a brief tour of Norway and Sweden they went into Russia. He had been there about eighteen years ago and wanted to see changes. He did find changes, mostly on the side of far better living conditions, far better clothing, food, housing, and so on, and a little more freedom and less fear, he thought.

At any rate, while he was in Russia they tracked him down and a Time magazine man resident in Russia insisted upon this long interview. He cane in with an eight-page list of questions to ask. It took Sterling virtually one day of his stay in Russia to respond to these and other questions which the reporter asked. Apparently the reporter in Utah had decided that he should contact McMurrin because he was a “Mormon dissident” and they wanted to get the viewpoint of dissidents. So they had teletyped these questions to the reporter in Russia. Sterling thought it was very funny that he was regarded by Time as a dissident; it was extremely humorous to him. He thinks the article was as favorable as it was to the Church partly because of his own statements. Surely he has respect and admiration for the Church and its leadership, and this came through in the interview. If one got such favorable comment from a “dissident,” that apparently satisfied Time

[LJA Diary, 7 Aug., 1978]

Davis said that while I was gone last week, Fred Collier came in to tell Glen Leonard that he hadn’t gotten the typeset finished on the Journal of Mormon History, and since Glen wasn’t there, dropped in to see Davis. He asked Davis, “What have you heard on the revelation of June 9?” Davis asked him what he had heard. He told Davis that he had heard from Boyd Packer’s testimony in a testimony meeting and about Bro. McConkie’s speech to his family, and he said that Elder Packer in bearing his testimony said that Jesus himself had appeared at the June 1 meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. In speaking of it he was all choked up and said now he could testify that Jesus was a person of body, parts, and passions–a person of flesh and blood, and that Jesus himself had been seen by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in that meeting, and indicated his desire to have them accept the blacks into the priesthood.

Fred looked at his watch and didn’t have time to talk about what he heard about Elder McConkie’s testimony. 

[LJA Diary, 28 Aug., 1978]

Friday, September 15, Earl Olson was visited by a security official who asked that the Library-Archives be closed down at noon on Saturday, so instructions were issued accordingly. Earl asked me to inform all of our staff that nobody would be able to get in after 12:00 o’clock. I asked him for what reason and he said, “Security reasons.” Gordon now tells me that he was here Saturday morning and that everything was closed at 12:00 o’clock. In the process he asked one of the security people the reason and the security person replied that Security had heard that there was to be a sit-in of women during the afternoon. Apparently there was a reception at 3:00 o’clock in advance of the evening meeting for women. This was a reception for General Authorities and wives, the officers and spouses of Relief Society and Young Women, and perhaps general boards. (At any rate, I did not receive an invitation and I assume other Church department officials did not.) Gordon says there was absolutely no sign of anybody wanting to sit-in and that this was a false alarm. It reminds me of the many false alarms that came during the period of black difficulties, when we kept hearing that many carloads of blacks from California were headed for Salt Lake City and they were going to “take over” Temple Square. This got so far that priesthood members in various wards in Salt Lake City were mobilized to meet the problem, in case it developed. Of course nothing happened.

[LJA Diary, 18 Sept., 1978]

I may have reported earlier in this diary that when I returned with Chase and Grethe Peterson from Boston in May, Chase showed me a letter which he had drafted to send to President Kimball about the problem of the blacks not having the priesthood. It was a wonderful, sweet letter. I made a couple of suggestions in regard to it, which they accepted. I, of course, never received a copy of the final letter sent, nor heard for certain whether it had been sent. So I asked Chase and Grethe the other night at the Madsens’ home whether “a certain letter” had been sent. I asked this privately, of course. They said yes, the letter was sent and acknowledged–this was a little before June 9. Chase and Grethe said that when they went to the administration building for her conference with Elder Backman, in which he called her to the general board of the Young Woman, that as they were waiting in the lobby for the elevator, President Kimball saw them. They realized he was busy–he was with other people–so they tried not to notice him in an obvious way. But President Kimball would have none of it; he came over to the Petersons, warmly embraced them, and said, “I want you to know how much we appreciated having your wonderful, sweet letter. It was very helpful, and we appreciate so much your warm, loving spirit.” This was thrilling to Chase and Grethe, of course; they said President Kimball did not have to do this and they appreciated very much that he had acknowledged the letter in such a warm way. 

[LJA Diary, 21 Sept., 1978]

Saturday night Grace and I were invited to have dinner with Dean and Cheryl May. Also invited were George and Christine Meaders Durham. We enjoyed the evening very much and particularly the opportunity of getting better acquainted with George and Christine, who were just nodding acquaintances before. We discussed a variety of things, including the women’s movement, the Church, the revelation of June 9, and so on. With respect to the revelation of June 9, Dean May mentioned an experience he had in England; or was this George giving the story? At any rate, he was present when Elder Petersen made a visit to the European Mission. He met with a group of perhaps 40-50 elders and gave a little talk and then opened it up to questions. A new missionary asked him if he had ever seen the Saviour. The mission president was very embarrassed and started to explain to the missionary that that was not a proper question. But Brother Petersen calmed him and said he would be glad to give a response. Brother Petersen said no, he had never seen the Saviour, and this was not a source of disappointment to him. He said the Saviour had revealed himself to only a few people and that it was not necessary for an apostle to see the Saviour physically to be a witness for him. He did not know for certain the experience of all of the Brethren, but he knew that there were some of then who, like he, had never seen the Saviour. Then he proceeded to explain that we often forget that there are three members of the godhead, and that one of the functions of the Holy Ghost is to be a revelator and comforter and inspirer, and that most of the communications from the godhead to mankind come through the Holy Ghost. His revelations are sufficiently frequent and sufficiently powerful that we are given in this manner a full knowledge of the Saviour, which permits us to say that we recognize the truth, and know the truth, and are able to give witness of the truth. Elder Petersen gave quite a little sermon on the importance of the Holy Ghost and his role in revelation, and that normally when the Brethren–or any of us– receive a divine communication it comes through the Holy Ghost. 

Brother Durham said that he had been given an account of the June 1 experience from Jim McConkie, who had received it from Elder McConkie. It was very similar to the account that I had earlier heard. I had the impression that Jim McConkie had understood that the Holy Ghost had visited the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency on June 1 and that there had been a rushing of winds, heavenly music, and some visions of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and perhaps other personalities and scenes as well. 

[LJA Diary, 23 Oct., 1978]

Jan [Tyler] said that when she was 17, President Kimball, then an apostle, dedicated their chapel in Walla Walla. She was asked to transcribe the tape of his talk. While she was transcribing it, she had gotten through one tape and was about half way through the second when suddenly she heard a voice come in, as if a spirit voice, and say, “This man will someday become president of the Church and under his presidency the blacks will be given the priesthood.” She was startled, realizing that it was not President Kimball’s voice. She went back and played the tape again, and did not hear the “spirit voice.” She did write down the experience, however, for future reference. Later on in the day she began to wonder whether she had the experience or not–whether it was just a case of bad hearing. So she played the tape once more and heard the same voice interject with the same statement. Then to make sure, she replayed it again and did not hear the voice. So she heard the voice twice, and of course if anyone else played the tape they would not hear the voice. So it was a special spiritual experience for her and so she has known all along that the revelation on priesthood for the blacks would come to President Kimball. She has had other spiritual experiences of this type, and indeed has had one as recently as early in the month of January of this year. As I suggested, she has written up all of these and dated them, and wonders what to do with it– whether to publish it, distribute it, or keep it to herself. She asked me my counsel, but I did not give her any.

[LJA Diary, 12 Feb., 1979]

Today I had lunch with Elder Henry Taylor of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Emeritus. Brother Taylor told me that he was writing his personal history and that he had just finished writing about the events surrounding the announcement of June 9 on the revelation on the blacks and the priesthood. He confirmed most of what I’ve already heard, but added one or two details. He confirmed that President Kimball had gone into the “upper room of the temple” for several weeks, possibly months, prior to the announcement of the revelation. He said the term “upper room” is used to denote the Holy of Holies. (He said a picture of that room was in the first edition of James E. Talmage’s House of the Lord, and for some reason that he is not aware of, it was not reproduced in the more recent edition.) He said President Kimball had finally felt within himself that he had the Lord’s answer and he felt the necessity of having that confirmed by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve. On June 1 the First Presidency, Council of Twelve, and Seventies met in the temple in their temple clothes. They had their regular meeting and prayer circle. Normally after the prayer circle each of the Council members dresses in street clothes and then goes to a business meeting of his particular council. This time, however, President Kimball asked the Quorum of Twelve to remain in their temple clothes. 

When they were alone President Kimball then did another extraordinary thing. He asked Brother Benson, who presides over meetings of the Quorum of Twelve, if he might be mouth in a special prayer circle of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. (It is the nature of President Kimball that he would ask for permission to do this rather than to simply state what he planned to do.) President Benson of course gave his okay. President Kimball then prayed to the Lord most earnestly, and it was during that prayer that each of the persons present received manifestation or knowledge that this was indeed the will of the Lord. Brother Taylor said that afterwards when there were comments from the group, one person, perhaps President Kimball, made the observation that he had always been impressed that the presidents of the Church whose portraits hang in that council room looked very solemn, but as he looked at them now they appeared to him to be smiling with joy. This is what might very well be the origin of the rumor circulated soon after that some of the presidents of the Church were present in the meeting. Their portraits were present and their spirits were felt, but this is different from saying that they had personally appeared before the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency. At any rate, after the speaker, presumably President Kimball, had made this remark, various persons nodded their heads that they felt sure the preceding presidents approved of this decision.

Then there was the writing of the letter and so on, described in other entries in this journal. Elder Taylor said that this was announced in a special meeting of all the General Authorities present in this area on the morning of June 8. The meeting began at 7:00 am. All were dressed in their temple clothes. President Kimball conducted and made a brief introduction, then asked Brother Gibbons to read the letter and then asked each person present to indicate his approval or disapproval and feelings. Every single person there indicated his approval, and it was a very warm, sometimes emotional outpouring of the spirit.

Elder Taylor noted that President Tanner slipped out of the meeting two or three times very quietly, and he thinks that he was simply making contact with Heber Wolsey, so as to deliver him a copy of the letter so that it could be announced publicly as soon as there was approval. To repeat, he said there was not a dissenting word from any of the General Authorities.

Elder Taylor said that in the meantime after the meeting of the Council of the Twelve and the decision and the drafting of the letter, President Kimball telephoned Elder Peterson, who was in Ecuador, read the letter to him, and asked for his approval, which was readily given. All three members of the First Presidency also went together to the LDS Hospital to present the matter to Elder Delbert Stapley, and his gave his approval. Various members of the Quorum of the Twelve were delegated to contact the few General Authorities who were absent on missions-Elder Loren Dunn in Australia, Elder Burton in Germany, and others. By the time of the meeting the morning of June 8, all General Authorities not present at the meeting had been contacted and gave their approval. The meeting ended at about 9:30. By the time Elder Taylor and his colleagues dressed and were back in their offices, word had already “gotten out.” His secretary and others and assistants and officers had already received the word through Public Communications. That is probably when the first rumors began to drift up to the Historical Department. [LJA Diary, 9 Apr., 1979]

It is interesting to observe the things now being said about Elder Petersen, who died on Thursday: “Kind,” “genial,” “friendly,” “man of vision,” “spiritual,” “true disciple of Jesus.”

Unquestionably he was a forceful and persuasive speaker and writer. Unquestionably he could be charming and winning. All of my experiences with him, however, were not positive.

Item: When I published in the first issue of BYU Studies my study, “An Economic Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom,” he saw to the suspension of that publication for a full year, and he always held it against me that I wrote the piece.

Item: The talk which he gave in 1963, “Race Problems As They Affect the Church,” opposing granting the priesthood to the blacks, a talk widely circulated, apparently with his approval, was one of the most bigoted and narrow-minded talks ever given by a “disciple of Christ.”

Item: That he should have received and encouraged the submission of the reports of Tom Truitt about the writings and speeches of our historians, and that he should have circulated these among the Twelve without once talking to any of us to check on their accuracy or intention, was unfair, a manifestation of suspicious attitudes, and partook of retribution.

Item: His calling the meeting with me to defend our action in writing Story of the Latter-day Saints, without prior notice so as to prevent us from preparing a defense, and with charges that were unfair and incorrect, shows his receptivity to rumormongers, the suspicious, the anti-intellectuals, and represents an attempt to embarrass us before the First Presidency.

Item: Elder Petersen is the authority who siced Tom Truitt and Roy Doxey on the historians last spring by calling their stake presidents and bishops to determine if they were loyal and active members of the church.  I have had a real concern that he might become President of the Twelve or, eventually, President of the Church. Now, at least, that will not happen. The Lord has preserved us from that kind of leadership.

[LJA Diary, 13 Jan., 1984]

When I was at the Ladies Book Club Thursday, LeGrande Richards’ daughter was there. She told me that her father had told her about the revelation which permitted black men to hold the Priesthood. He told her that President Kimball had suggested, at the conclusion of the meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the Temple, that he wanted them to join him in prayer. He prayed fervently, then an electric moment when he switched gears, so to speak. As if struck by a special vision he thanked the Lord for the revelation which made this addition possible. At that very moment, Elder Richards told his daughter, he, Elder Richards, felt a presence in the room and opened his eyes and looked up and saw Wilford Woodruff looking at President Kimball and smiling. Elder Richards  said it was not his imagination; it was, in fact, President Woodruff, who was easy to recognize. He, Elder Richards, was 12 years old when President Woodruff died, and he had seen President Woodruff several times as a boy, so he knew very well what he looked like. Elder Richards said that he suddenly realized why Elder Woodruff was there. He also (WW) had faced a problem of similar urgency (the abolition of polygamy) when he was President. And he was now there to reassure President Kimball and the Apostles that they were doing the right thing in granting the Priesthood to worthy blacks.

LeGrande’s daughter said this was not rumor, not hearsay, but she heard this from her own father, who told it to his family in a serious moment. So she knew it was an actual happening.

[LJA to Children, 26 Sept., 1987]

Yesterday was important in world history—the tearing down of the wall between East and West Germany—the removal of restrictions on leaving East Germany.

I had gone into Harriet’s study to watch the 5 o’clock news, while Harriet was fixing supper. The whole thing came out like the projection of a beam of light, like the news of an important victory for which we all had prayed. I burst out in tears and went in to tell Harriet and could hardly choke it out. It was the first time I had been affected this way since June 9, 1978, when I learned that the First Presidency had announced the revelation giving the Priesthood “to all worthy males.”

So many thoughts run through my mind. My parents, in 1913, decide to leave Oklahoma and take train to Idaho to start a new life. I decide in 1939 to go to North Carolina to work fro the Ph. D. in economics. We go to Italy in 1958 to spend a year on our Fulbright Professorship. We go to Oxford, England, in 1987 for the annual convention of the Mormon History Association. We travel to Alberta and Toronto, Canada, in connection with celebrating the centennial of the Mormon presence in Canada. How much it has meant in our lives to be able to travel—to be able to go somewhere for a worthy purpose, and to go in all innocence and enthusiasm. What it would have meant if we had been prohibited from going.

Brigham Young had sought to establish an independent commonwealth in the Great Basin and he had hoped that few would come in and few would go out. How fortunate that he was disappointed in pursuing that goal! In come the Forty-niners, in come the Federal troops in 1858, in come the California miners in the 1860s and 1870s. And out go the Southern Saints (and others) to California to settle San Bernardino. Out go missionaries and others throughout the 1850s and 1860s. How much richer the Commonwealth by having interchange of people and resources! One cannot develop a people, or a region, without freedom of movement of people and resources. The Berlin wall, the German wall, for twenty-eight years! A whole generation deprived of the wholesome travel and interchange which modern life requires and induces! That the removal of restrictions came as the result of popular uprisings, popular discontent, is itself a stunning development.

It struck me as particularly poignant that word of the announcement was conveyed to the West German parliament when they were engaged in a bitter debate on some aspect of economic policy. The presiding officer read the announcement to the delegates, there was a momentary silence, and then they all, spontaneously, joined hands and arose to sing “Deutschland, Deutschland, uber Alles.” A touching moment to remember. A moment when our humanity unites us to celebrate a great victory for humankind—for our brothers and sisters and for everyone.

[LJA to Children, 10 Nov., 1989]

As for my lecture for the week, I want to complain about white guilt and the granting of preferences to blacks. When Congress passed the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 there was general agreement that employers would not grant racial preferences to rectify racial imbalance. But in the middle sixties was the explosion of black power. Whites were made to feel very guilty and so we must grant preferences to get redemption from that guilt. Elite universities granted concessions in response to black student demands that came very close to racial separation—black dorms, black unions, black yearbooks, black homecoming dances. Blacks have the lowest grade point averages of any racial group, yet no one dared point this out or demand equal performance from them. They must be given scholarships; they must be paid to improve their grades. At Pennsylvania State University a black student who improves his/her grade from C to C+ gets $550, and anything higher $1,100. There is a shift from black responsibility to white responsibility. University administrators are not expressing a heartfelt feeling of concern as much as compromising their high values and principals (scholarship) to redeem themselves from the feeling of guilt. Why can we not simply view blacks as American citizens who deserve fairness and in some cases developmental assistance without special entitlements based on color? Why can we not have policies that attack poverty, not black poverty, all the while instilling values of self-reliance? Special entitlements based on color only prolong the hurt; development overcomes it. Japanese, Chinese, Mormons, Jews, have accomplished that. Do we not have reason to expect blacks to do the same? Lecture for the day. (Inspired by an article in American Scholar in Autumn 1990 by Shelby Steele)

[LJA to Children, 6 Oct., 1990]