Pledge today to put your shoulder to the wheel and take one of the following actions by June 8:
1. Read and reflect on the following scriptures: 2 Nephi 26:33, D&C 38: 22 – 31, and Official Declaration 2. Reflect on how the denial of LDS priesthood and temple blessings for Black people from 1852 – 1978 affect you and your family? How did it affect Black LDS people and their families? How do you suppose we came up with “explanations” for the priesthood ban? How do you suppose these explanations have made Black LDS people feel? Do these ideas fit with how you understand God and the Plan of Happiness?
2. Read and reflect on the LDS Church’s official Race and the Priesthood essay and share it with others on social media. What are the common “explanations” you’ve heard for the ban, and why would the Church ask us to no longer use these “explanations”? If appropriate, work with your ward leaders to encourage that this is read in a ward setting. Mormon Newsroom also has articles on diversity: Unity in Diversity, People and Place, Difference and Dignity, and Engaging the Differences Among Us and videos available in the Church’s Media Library on Race and the Priesthood that can be shared on social media and studied in ward settings, if appropriate.
4. Read Shoulder to the Wheel: Resources for Latter-day Saints Working to Face Racism, Abolish White Supremacy, and Become a Zion People, a resource put together by Latter-day Saint scholars and anti-racism advocates using scriptures, LDS Church materials, and educational information. Share it on social media, and discuss it with your book group, student organization, or quorum or Church class, if appropriate.
5. Select one or two of the books or essays by Black Mormons listed in the “Resources” section of Shoulder to the Wheel: Resources for Latter-day Saints Working to Face Racism, Abolish White Supremacy, and Become a Zion People. Read and share them on social media–Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook–with a comment about what you found meaningful or thought-provoking. This is important because there is so much racist and white supremacist content on social media, even content that uses LDS scriptures and images of apostles and prophets to support white supremacy.
6. Watch Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons (click title to obtain a copy) with your family, church class, or friends. How has the ban impacted Black LDS people? What can all LDS people learn from this history?
7. If you live in or visit the Salt Lake City area, visit (with your family or Church class, if appropriate) Jane Manning James’s grave in the Salt Lake City cemetery. In an 1895 letter to the First Presidency, James wrote, “Is there no blessings for me?” Reflect on the fact that James was excluded from the temple despite a lifetime of faithfulness and sacrifice. How does it affect Mormons today that our ancestors kept temples as segregated spaces? If you are able to visit the Payson LDS temple, look for an original portrait of Jane and reflect on what it would have meant for her to attend the temple in her own time.
8. Review the list of ideas developed by Black LDS people for positive changes in the church. Identify three ideas you and your family can adapt and apply in your home, or in your ward.
9. Take a moment to look at your family history–alone or with your family–in light of the information in Shoulder to the Wheel: Resources for Latter-day Saints Working to Face Racism, Abolish White Supremacy, and Become a Zion People. If you are white, ask yourself how your family’s path would have been different if your ancestors happened to be born African-American. Locate advantages your family enjoyed on account of race, including access to GI Bill resources, or federally-insured home loans.
10. Hold a Family Home Evening using resources from Shoulder to the Wheel: Resources for Latter-day Saints Working to Face Racism, Abolish White Supremacy, and Become a Zion People. Dedicate part of your FHE to practicing being an anti-racist upstander, not a bystander, by saying simple phrases like “This is not kind,” “This is not okay with me,” or “Please don’t say that.”
11. Suggest to your local leaders a special 5th Sunday meeting or fireside before June 2018 to prepare for the 40th anniversary of Official Declaration 2. Use materials from scripture, from the LDS Topics essay, or from Shoulder to the Wheel: Resources for Latter-day Saints Working to Face Racism, Abolish White Supremacy, and Become a Zion People booklet to prepare the lesson.
12. Work with quorum, Relief Society, and auxiliary leadership in your ward as appropriate to make Sunday meetings and activities more welcoming to participation by people of color and to model a faithful, loving, and firm approach to talking about issues like race. When people of color share their perspectives in majority-white settings, leaders can help amplify and support them with simple affirmative statements: “I think Brother Johnson made an important point, and I’d like us to reflect on it a little while;” “I am thankful to Sister Davis for the courage she showed in sharing her experiences, and I want to say that I hear her and will think about what she has said.” It is also critical that leaders are prepared to firmly, lovingly, directly, and immediately engage members who express racism or use racial slurs in Church settings, whether or not a person of color is present to experience the racial insult.