Why is the anniversary of blacks receiving the priesthood still relevant today?
On June 1, 2018, the Church held the worldwide event “Be One,” celebrating the 40th anniversary of the revelation extending priesthood rights and blessings to blacks. During this event, Church members were encouraged to renew their commitment to being united, regardless of race or other differences.
For the rising generation, it may be easy to forget that blacks didn’t always have the priesthood and that the revelation extending the priesthood to black members didn’t remove all racial bias among Latter-day Saints. Growing up in Utah, I had very few experiences with race because of the lack of diversity in the area. For many years, I believed that racism no longer existed. Now as a young adult, I’m becoming much more aware of how a person’s skin color may affect our opinion of the person. Instead of wanting to become friends with the person, we might marginalize him or her.
This issue is addressed in the Ensign article “Moving Forward Together,” by Darius Gray, one of the founders of Genesis. He states that when we marginalize people, we’re doing the opposite of what Jesus Christ would do. Instead, we need to become unified and “move forward together in our efforts to reach our divine potential.” Brother Gray shares four steps we can take to achieve greater unity and heal the wounds of racism:
- Acknowledge the problem. Racism still exists today. Instead of trying to overlook race, recognize that we all look different but that our differences don’t mean we should be treated differently.
- Recognize racism in ourselves. Not all racism is intentional, and sometimes it’s so subtle we may not realize we’re being racist. To learn how to recognize this subtle racism in yourself, read the article “Healing the Wounds of Racism.”
- Learn a new approach. When we meet someone, we shouldn’t make assumptions based on his or her skin color. Instead, we should focus on learning about the person; we are all unique.
- Listen. When talking with others, listen to what they’re saying so you can better understand them. Don’t focus on yourself or try to force your ideas upon others.
As members of the Church, the fact that blacks can receive the priesthood truly is a cause for celebration. No matter our race or ethnicity, each of us is a child of God with divine potential and the right to the blessings of the priesthood.
—Rebecca Flinders, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read Elder Edward Dube’s article “Blessed in Every Way Possible” to learn more about how our faith can help us to accept modern revelation.
To learn how Elder Fred A. “Tony” Parker made sense of the priesthood restriction, read “The Savior Heals Our Hurts.”
For more historical context about blacks and the priesthood, read “Race and the Priesthood.”