Addressing Racism–even when you think you know it all

Addressing RacismTwo years ago, I posted this in the facebook group Black Latter-day Saints: I've seen a youtube going around which is focused on Jane James not receiving her strongly desired temple blessings. Those letters move me deeply, but I don't believe Jane would want us to focus on what she did not receive, but on her faith despite her trials. I am putting her story here to remind everyone of how she chose to depict her life. She requested that her life story, as she dictated it, be … [Read more...]

On the Eve of my Father’s Death

I am writing this at 6:35 p.m. on February 18, 2017.  A year ago at this time, I was preparing to do a presentation at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City with my co-author, Darius Gray.  My brother, Dell, was going to film it.  We had great artifacts for our audience to view, and we had our power points ready.  Darius, whose health has been terrible for several years, told me that he was particularly weak and asked that I carry the program.  We had done this many times before, and it was … [Read more...]

Black Mormon Pioneers Featured at BLACKPAST.ORG

For the past several years, I have contributed to the Blackpast online encyclopedia.  It is a wonderful resource.Now, director Dr. Quintard Taylor announces that BLACKPAST has one section devoted to Black Latter-day Saints  I join with him in inviting you to peruse the articles.Here are Dr. Taylor's words:The Latter-day Saints Page on BlackPast.org African Americans have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) almost since its founding in 1830. Their n … [Read more...]

Companions and other projects for the DR-Congo

Below is the "Look Book" for "Companions"--a feature film, not a documentary.The film is the first part of multiple projects which Bruce and I will be doing in the Congo as Fulbright scholars at the Universite Catholique Du Congo.  If  all goes as planned, we will be in Kinshasa next October and will stay for ten months.  We also plan on doing work in Lodje. Eventually, we will return to the DR-C as missionaries.This is the basic plan: 1) Finish funding the film and shoot it before the F … [Read more...]

Have You Forgotten? Part 2 – The Danger of Standing Ovations

No one is more hungry for applause than someone who questions their fundamental worth.One of my activities as a young teen was inventing schmaltzy dramas and acting them out--alone, of course.  Oh goodness, it would have been a disaster if anyone had seen me! Many of my dramas ended in tears.  It was a good way to get out my emotions and to (unwittingly) rehearse for a life of acting.My first opportunity was in tenth grade, when I played "Villager 2" in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail.  I … [Read more...]

Have You Forgotten? (Part 1)

This photo was taken in July, 1963.  It was my last summer--for many years--of believing that I was lovable outside of my family.  Just around the corner, a bully awaited me, surrounded by her followers,  who were all afraid of what the bully's revenge would look like if they didn't follow her orders.Bullying is not an event; it is an evil seed.  If the one being bullied has no antidote (in the form of parental support, or religious/cultural re-interpretation of the bullying, or courageous fr … [Read more...]

The First Vision–beyond words

It was years afterwards that Joseph Smith made his first attempt to describe what we Mormons refer to as "The First Vision."  Certainly, making a pamphlet boiling down a theophany to mere words was beyond daunting; perhaps it felt like a mockery. There was a persistent request for an understandable account of an indescribable event, and eventually Joseph attempted it. In fact, he attempted it multiple times. After a century, illustrators created their own interpretations of what the divine … [Read more...]