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Primary sources/Mark E. Petersen/Race Problems - As They Affect the Church
by Elder Mark E. Petersen
The discussion on civil rights, especially over the last twenty years has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They have allowed their political affiliations to color their thinking to some extent, and then, of course, they have been persuaded, by some of the arguments that have been put forth.
It is a good thing to understand exactly what the Negro has in mind on this subject, I’ll be talking about other races besides Negroes, of course, but it is the Negro question which pinpoints it, so I would like to talk first of all about the Negro and his civil rights. We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject any more than any other subject.
I would like to begin by quoting from an interview conducted by the United States News with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a very prominent negro leader, and a member of the Congress of the United States. The United States News published this interview in its September, 1952 issue. That was before the Supreme Court decision, as you recall. Congressman Powell was asked a number of questions, and he answered them. The first question:
- Q: “The question of civil rights in connection with segregation, Congressman Powell, opens up the often-mentioned subject of social equality, and I was wondering: What is the viewpoint of the leaders of the Negroes in this country today on the broad subject of social equality?”
- A: “Of course, social equality is something that covers so many different things that it would have to be defined more closely.”
- Q. “Well, would you say that, in principle, the desire is for social equality?”
- A: “No. I would say that there is a demand for social equality in all public places; any place that is operating publicly, regardless of what its nature may be should not have the right to refuse anyone. For a club or a private institution, that may be another question.”
- Q. “But it would include hotels, restaurants and, of course, all forms of transportation?”
- A. “That’s right.”
- Q. “Would that mean the ending of segregation on the railroads in the South?”
- A. “Yes, that would.”
- Q. “What is the status of that controversy? Is segregation on railroads now forbidden by law?”
- A. “No, it is not forbidden in law. But, under Supreme Court rulings in the past years, there is no longer any segregation allowed in dining cars, no longer any allowed on buses in interstate transportation.”
- Q. “What, about Pullmans?”
- A. “This is an optional thing which the Pullman Company itself has been instituting. Nevertheless, now and then you will meet an individual pullman conductor who interprets it on his own terms of bigotry. That, however, is rapidly changing. The only place still left is the so-called ‘Jim Crow’ car, and even that has been abolished on through trains leaving Northern cities.”
- Q. “What is the basic reason for the opposition to the ending of segregation?”
- A. “I think it is just inherited public opinion of days past when the Negro was not as mature and educated and advanced as he is today—and neither was the white man. I think a private poll would produce tremendous statistics supporting the fact that the vast majority of people in the South are changing, but they are afraid of having their views become public.
- Q. “Is there any similar point of view in the North where there are large numbers of Negroes? Is any opposition manifest there to non-segregation?”
- A. “Yes, indeed. I think that the problem is oho that is sort of leveling off and is no longer a strictly sectional problem—”
I will skip some now. Let us now go into the matter of intermarriage with the Negroes. I continue to read from this interview:
- A, “No, I don’t, because I have just come back from an official five-month trip through Europe and the Near East, and there is no problem over there.”
- Q. “You mean intermarriage is accepted?”
- A. “Yes. They don’t understand our fears here in America.”
- Q. “Do you think there is much intermarriage in Europe?”
- A. “Oh, yes, a great deal.”
- Q. “Could you say in what countries it is more frequent? Is there a country that you could name?”
- A. “No, I don’t think I could say. I saw it all through Scandinavia. I saw it all through the Benelux countries in Italy.”
- Q. “But isn’t it a small minority?”
- A. “No, in comparison with the number of negroes there, it was large.”
- Q. “In comparison with the number of intermarriages in the United States, would you say that it was an equal or a greater number or a lesser number?”
- A. “On a percentage basis there is no comparison. It is more prevalent abroad. In fact, the rare thing in Europe and England is to find a couple that is not an interracial marriage. I saw very few marriages of two Negro people.”
- Q. “It was mostly negro and white?”
- A. “That’s right.”
- Q. “What is the attitude of the Negro in the United States on the subject of intermarriage? Is it discussed frequently in the press?”
- A. “Yes, but on an objective basis. In fact, an increasingly large number of Negro leaders are marrying whites of extremely stable and respected families.”
- Q. “Is there much more fraternizing in the Northern cities between Negroes and whites, especially in the large Negro centers like Harlem, than there used to be?”
- A. “Yes, much more.”
- Q. “Is there any tendency among the Negroes to reject that, or are they welcoming it?” of intermarriage with the Negroes.
- A. "Yes, much more."
- Q. “Do you think many of the people who oppose discontinuing segregation are afraid breaking down of the social lines may lead to intermarriage?”
- A: “That is the great bugaboo used to scare them, when the truth is that when two people are in love—black, white, Jew, Gentile, Protestant, Catholic—no one can stop them.”
- Q. “What is the attitude of the Negro leaders toward the intermarriage question? Do they feel that it is the probability over a long period of time?”
- A. “Yes, they do, but not as any conscious thing to go out and campaign for.”
- Q. “They think that, ultimately, intermarriage will be commonplace in this country?”
- A. “Personally, I do.”
- Q. “How far away would you say that is?”
- A. “Well, that is hard to say. I never thought India would be free in my lifetime, but today India is free. I didn’t think that Africa would have a black Prime Minister, but they do today in the Gold Coast.”
- Q. “Do you think there is much intermarriage today between whites and Negroes in this country?”
- A. “No, very little. But is it the idea of the old sore thumb—it stands out so when it does happen.”
- Q. “Do you think that the presence of a good many Negro troops in Europe where there’s been intermarriage has affected the problem?”
- A. “They are very definitely welcoming it. An increasing number of fine leaders on both sides are marrying.”
- Q. “Is there in New York City a greater number of interracial marriages than there has been?”
- A. “Yes, but interestingly, the largest number of interracial marriages occur in Milwaukee and Los Angeles.
- Q. “To what do you attribute that?”
- A. “I can’t figure it out. Milwaukee has always been’ a very liberal city. Los Angeles, however, I can’t figure out at all.”
- Q. “What is the argument that is used by Negro leaders in answer to the point that is sometimes made that, if intermarriages continue in the next 25 or 30 years, then the races will be adulterated somewhat as they are in Cuba or Brazil?”
- A. “I have heard that argument, but it doesn’t amount to any argument at all from my standpoint, because if we are fighting for integration, well, then there it is. I mean, you can’t fight segregation and want separation. We must be consistent.”
- Q. “I’m not sure that that is clear. . . ”
- A. “The Negro leaders are fighting against segregation. Therefore, they can’t have a position on one hand against segregation and on the other hand against interracial marriage.”
- Q. “What I meant was, do you believe that the quality of the white race would be reduced by intermarriage?”
- A. “No. Anthropologists, like Boas of Columbia and the late Malinowsky of Yale and Hooten of Harvard, especially, have shown that such a thing would be a benefit; that is a scientific fact.”
- Q. “They contend that it would not change the quality of one race or the other?” A. “That is correct—either not change it or actually improve the stock of both groups.”
I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people sit. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. From this and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that, we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that they used to say about sin, “First we pity, then endure, then embrace.”
How different is the Chinese attitude on intermarriage: Sister Belle S. Spafford, President of the Relief Society, has been attending the conference of the International Council of Women in Europe, I asked her what she learned there about interracial marriages as affecting other races than the Negroes. She said there was one outstanding figure in the conference who expressed herself most emphatically on this subject. She was the Chinese representative, Matilda No. She is chairman of the Chinese council and heads the moral welfare section of the I.O. and this is what she said:
In Hong Kong there are two and one half million people living in very crowded conditions. The population has more than doubled during the past five years, bringing many serious social problems. The presence of so many men in the armed forces has also created social problems extremely difficult to handle. A large number of illegitimate children have been born to Chinese girls, fathered by men of other races who are in the armed services. Neither the Chinese or the whites will accept these children. The Chinese are bitterly opposed to Eurasian marriages or to marriages between Chinese and persons of any other race, even under the most favorable circumstances, and children born out of wedlock to Chinese mothers with white fathers are in a very difficult position. They have strong maternal instincts and traditions and because of this most of them make determined effort to keep their children, frequently turning to prostitution to support them.
What should be our attitude as Latter-day Saints toward Negro and other dark races? Does the Lord give us any guidance? Is there any Church policy in this matter? Is segregation in and of itself a wrong principle? Just where should we stand? Before going into this there are a few fundamentals that I would like to mention on which of course we must all be agreed.
- 1. God is the Creator. All things were made by Him, and without Kim was not anything made that was made.
- 2. The purpose of His creation of this earth was to provide a habitation for His children.
- 3. God is just. He is fair. He is no respector of persons.
- 4. We must accept the fact of pre-existence, and that in our pre-existence we had free agency. We could be lazy there or we could be industrious. We could be obedient or careless. We could choose to follow Christ or to follow Lucifer.
- 5. The Gospel is eternal. It is as eternal as God and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His course is one eternal round.
- 6. The Lord has a definite method of dealing with both sinners and saints, based on the way we personally live. We shall be judged in accordance with our own acts. We shall be punished for our sins and not for Adam’s transgression, nor for anybody else’s transgression.
- I like a quotation from Ezekiel very much. It is found in the 18th chapter beginning with the 4th verse:
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die, But if a man be just and do that which is lawful and right, And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the House of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, Hath walked in my statues, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God. And if he begat a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to anyone of these things, And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbor’s wife, Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination. Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? He shall not live: he hath done all these abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he begat a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the House of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbor’s wife, Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statues; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity. Yet say ye, why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statues, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity, of the son; the righteousness of the righteous, shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicket shall be upon him.
- I think that is a marvelous statement of policy on the part of the Lord—a great announcement of doctrine. Now I would like to come to the Ten Commandments for a moment: “I am the Lord thy God which hath brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow thyself down to them or serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
- I draw your attention to the fact that many people in reading this scripture stop before the sentence stops. They think in terms of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation—period, and they forget that the Lord goes on and says, “of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” This scripture clearly indicates that He shows mercy to those who love him and keep His commandments, but visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children of them “that hate me”. In other words, we reap what we sow. The soul that sinneth shall die. We will be punished for our own sins, but not for anybody else. We must accept that as a policy together with the thought that God is just to everybody, and that the gospel is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- 7. Since the gospel is eternal and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and since He is dealing with the same group of spirits, meaning you and me and the rest of us on earth, both in the pre-existent state as well as here, is there any reason why the Lord’s method of dealing with sinners and saints in the pre-existence should be different from his method of dealing with them here?
- 8. For sins we commit here, we will be given places in the eternal world, in the celestial, terrestial, and the telestial kingdoms, and as one star differeth from another in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead. There will be wide variations of classifications in the hereafter, all based on our performance here in this life.
- 9. Is there any reason to think that the same principle of rewards and punishments did not apply to us and our deeds in the pre-existent world as will apply hereafter? Is there reason then why the type of birth we receive in this life is not a reflection of our worthiness or lack of it in the pre-existent life? We must accept the justice of God. He is fair to all. He is not a respecter of persons. He will meet to us according to what we deserve.
With that in mind, we can account in no other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. There are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, regarding all according to their deeds.
I would like to read to you now from The Way to Perfection, by President Joseph Fielding Smith. I believe the chapters in this book, three of them primarily, provide the best statement of our interracial position that I know anything about, and I certainly highly recommend them to you. I will begin to read under a section: “Preassignement to nation or tribe:”
Our place among the tribes and nations evidently was assigned to us by the Lord. That there was an assignment of this kind before earth life began is a declaration of the scriptures. Certain spirits were chosen to cose through the lineage of Abraham, and this choice was made in the beginning. Other selections were also made, and the nations determined upon by the councils in the heavens. When Paul was speaking on Mars Hill, he said to the Athenians, ‘Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious, for as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an alter with this inscription, ‘To the unknown God.’ Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though he needed anything. Seeing He giveth to to all life and breath and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation.
If the Lord appointed unto the nations the bounds of their habitation, then there must have been a selection of spirits to form these nations. And I think we must recognize that. Here must have been a selection of spirits to form these nations. In greater clearness, Moses has declared the same thing. President Smith quotes from Deuteronomy next:
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask thy Father and He will show thee, thy elders, and they will tell thee when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance. When He departed the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel, for the Lord’s portion is His people. Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.
That is Deuteronomy 32.
If bounds were set according to the number of the children of Israel, and they were the Lord’s portion—that is those with whom He made covenant, when the Lord divided the sons of Adam it must have been done before this earth life began, for in these days of old when this division was made, the nation of Israel had not been brought into existence on the earth. Is it not a reasonable belief that the Lord would select the most choice spirits to come to the better grades of nations? Is it not reasonable to believe that less worthy spirits would come through less favored lineage? Does this not account in very large part for the various grades of color and degrees of intelligence we find in the earth? Is not the Lord doing the best that can be done in accordance with the laws of justice and mercy for the people of the earth? In His mercy He has a salvation with some degree of exaltation even for the heathen and for those who die without law. However, we must not be unmindful of the fact that these wor[l]dly conditions have also been brought about in large degree by rebellion and disregard of the laws of God in this life. Retrogression has come upon mankind because they have rejected the counsels and commandments of the Almighty. Advancement has come largely because man has been willing to walk, in part at least, in the light of divine inspiration.
Now, I have always been interested in Jeremiah’s own statement, that is quoting the Lord, of course, for the Lord tells Jeremiah that before He formed him in the belly He knew him and chose Him to be a prophet unto the nations. Why was Jeremiah chosen before he was born? Because along with all of the rest of us, in the pre-existent life, he had his free agency. He had the right to go with Lucifer if he wanted to. He had the right to be lazy or industrious or he had the right to study the gospel and come with full allegiance to the banner of the Savior. Because he came with full allegiance to the banner of the Savior and was loyal, and because he developed himself both in faith and otherwise in the pre-existent life, he came to a point of development where the Lord was glad to have him as one of His leaders, and so He chose him for one of His prophets even before he came into the world.
You remember the vision of Abraham when he was shown the spirits of certain great ones, and the Lord told him, “Abraham, thou art one of them.” Why were those spirits chosen above anybody else? Is the Lord a respector of persons? Again it was a reward based upon performance in the pre-existent life, and people who came in the lineage of Abraham received their blessing because of their performance in the pre-existent life, and because of their performance in the pre-existent life others obviously were given some other birth. I think this statement of Brother Smith’s here is wonderful.
Another paragraph in the next chapter, under “Traits developed in the world of spirits”, says
In the parable of the talents, the Lord makes use of this very significant expression, ‘for the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country who called his own servants and delivered unto them his good, and unto one he gave five talents, to another two and to another one. To ever man according to his several ability.’ Without doubt, these characteristics were born with us, in other words, we developed certain traits of character in the world of spirits before this earth life began. In that life, some were more diligent in the performance of duty, some were more obedient and more faithful in keeping the commandments. Some were more intellectual and others manifested stronger traits of leadership than others. Some showed greater faith and willingness to serve the Lord, and from among these the leaders were chosen. Because of this condition, the Lord said to Abraham, ‘These I will make my leaders for He stood among those that were spirits and He saw that they were good and He said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them. Thou wast chosen before thou wast born.’ There must be leaders, presiding officers, and those who are worthy and able to take command. During the ages in which we dwelt in the pre-mortal state we not only developed our various characteristics and showed our worthiness and ability or the lack of it, but were also where such progress could be observed. It is reasonable to believe that there was a church organization there. The Heavenly Beings were living in a perfectly arranged society. Every person knew his place. Priesthood, without any question, had been conferred and the leaders were chosen to officiate. Ordinances pertaining to that pre-existence were required and the love of God prevailed. Under such conditions it was natural for our Father to discern and choose those who were most worthy and evaluate the talents of each individual. He knew not only what each of us could do, but also what each of us would do when put to the test and when responsibility was given us. Then, when the time came for cur habitation on mortal earth, all things were prepared and the servants of the Lord chosen and ordained to their respective missions.
And then he goes on and shows how some were appointed to greater missions that others. I would like to recommend chapters 7 and 8 and chapters 15 and 16— four chapters in this very wonderful book. Now let’s talk segregation again for a few minutes. Was segregation a wrong principle? When the Lord chose the nations to which the spirits were to come, determining that some would be Japanese and some would be Chinese and some Negroes and some Americans, He engaged in an act of segregation. When He permitted the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael again He indulged in segregation. In the case of Jacob and Esau, He engaged in segregation. When He preserved His people Israel in Egypt for 400 years, He engaged in an act of segregation, and when He brought them up out of Egypt and gave them their own land, He engaged in an act of segregation. We speak of the miracle of the preservation of the Jews as a separate people over all these years. It was nothing more or less than an act in segregation. I’m sure the Lord had His hand in it because the Jews still have a great mission to perform. In placing a curse on Laman and Lemuel, He engaged in segregation. When He placed the mark upon Cain, He engaged in segregation. When he told Enoch not to preach the gospel to the descendants of Cain who were black, the Lord engaged in segregation. When He cursed the descendants of Cain as to the Priesthood, He engaged in segregation. When He forbade intermarriages as He does in Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, He established segregation.
You remember when the Israelites were about to come into Palestine and there were evil nations there, the Lord was anxious to preserve his people by an act of segregation. He commanded His people Israel: “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them. Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” It was a law for the preservation of Israel and it certainly was an act of segregation.
Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man, or was it God? And when He placed them there, He segregated them. Who placed the Chinese in China? The Lord did. It was an act of segregation. When He placed only some of His chosen people in the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe, wasn’t that an act cf segregation? And when He gave the birthright only to Ephraim, wasn’t that an act of segregation?
The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence, at least in the bases of the Lamanites and the Negroes we have the definite word of the Lord himself that He placed a dark skin upon then: as a curse—as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse (2 Nephi 5:21) And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an iron curtain there. The Negro was cursed as to the Priesthood, and therefore, was cursed as to the blessings of the Priesthood. Certainly God made a segregation there.
And do you remember in Section 76 where the Lord is talking about the Terrestrial kingdom and those who shall go there? He mentions those who were without law. I presume He means that all during mortality the people referred to were not permitted to have the law of the gospel and He assigned them directly to the Terrest[r]ial Kingdom. Isn’t that segregation?
Let’s look at it in another way. In the world to come, some of us will go to the Celestial glory, some to the Terrestrial, others to the Telestial, and we are told that as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is resurrection of the dead. So there will be a wide variation there. But isn’t that segregation? And you remember that He, himself, said with respect to some of them: “Where God and Christ dwell, they cannot come, worlds without end.” That is segregation.
So, do the Latter-day Saints believe in segregation as a principle? Let us consider the great mercy of God for a moment. A Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all of the handicaps of that race seems to have little opportunity, out think of the mercy of God to Chinese people who are willing to accept the Gospel. In spite of whatever they might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen, if they now, in this life, accept the gospel and live it the rest of their lives they can have the Priesthood, go to the temple and receive endowments and sealings, and that means they can have exaltation. Isn’t the mercy of God marvelous?
Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced, against him? Unjustly, sometimes we’re accused of having such a prejudice. But what does the mercy of God have for him? This Negro, who in the pre-existence life lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa—if that Negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the Celestial Kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a Celestial resurrection. He will get a place in the celestial glory. He will not go then even with the honorable men of the earth to the Terrestrial glory, nor with the ones spoken of as being without law.
In the great mercy of God, He allows all men to rise above themselves. Isn’t this a great testimony to the principle of repentance, that if a man does the best he can to rise above conditions and if he is faithful and devoted, the Lord recognizes him and lifts him up, I think that is one of the great evidences of the mercy of God.
Some years ago, back in 1936 to be exact, I became acquainted with a Negro family in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was back there for three months in connection with a newspaper assignment. I went to Church there and became acquainted with the family of a Negro man named Ben Hope. Accidentally he had found some of our tracts when he lived down in Mississippi. He read them and became interested. He wrote to the mission headquarters for a Book of Mormon, and by his own study, converted himself. Later he met the Elders and joined the Church. Then he joined the army in the First World War. When he came back, having carried a Book of Mormon with him all through the war and studied it carefully he converted his Negro sweetheart whom he married and she was baptized. Then they moved up to Cincinnati to escape the “Jim Crow” law.
Up in Cincinnati, some of the members of the Church became extremely prejudiced against this Negro family. They met in a group, decided what to do and went to the Branch President, and said that either the Hope family must leave or they would all leave. The Branch President ruled that Brother Hope and his family could not come to Church meetings. It broke their hearts. But, the missionaries went out to the Hope home and there conducted Sunday School every Sunday and served them the Sacrament. I had the privilege of visiting with the Hope family. I was in their home. I saw how their song book had been literally worn out and likewise their Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon, As soon as I got to my hotel that Sunday afternoon, I wrote home to my wife and had her send them a supply of books.
They were very faithful people. Brother Hope died just a little while ago. He was a man who was as thoroughly converted to the gospel as anyone I know. He was a full tithe payer all through the depression. He earned the most meager kind of living, but he never failed to pay his tithing. The Branch President showed me the tithing records, and all through the depression Brother Hope paid $1.50 a week. It was a full tithing. Sometimes Brother Hope didn’t even have that, so he went into the hills and picked berries and sold them on the streets of Cincinnati to get enough money to pay that $1.50 tithing.
And then Brother Hope told me, as a testimony, that in the Negro area of Cincinnati where he lived, during the depression he didn’t know of one man who had a job. But he said, “I had a job. I paid my tithing and during that whole depression, I didn’t lose one day’s work. Sometimes I didn’t make much money on that day, and I did have to go out into the hills and get berries, but I always had an income.”
Brother Hope asked me if it would be possible for him to have baptisms for the dead done in the temple on behalf of members of his family who had passed on. I went to President Smith, “Yes, you get their records and we will take them over to the temple and have the baptisms done for them.” I did, and we performed vicarious baptisms for these Negroes. Only the baptisms and confirmations—nothing else, but we did that much. Again I thought of the great mercy of Almighty God, and how He is willing to lift people up if they do their part.
Well, what about the removal of the curse? We know what the Lord has said in the Book of Mormon in regard to the Lamanites—they shall become a white and delightsome people. I know of no scripture having to do with the removal of the curse from the Negro. I think that we should not speculate too much about that. As long as the scriptures are silent on the subject, we should not speculate too much about that. As long as the scriptures are silent on the subject, we should not try to determine on our own what the ultimate end of the Negro is going to be. I don’t think we have a right to do that, do you? It is speculation.
We do have a few suggestions from the early brethren as to their own views, but I assume that these are their own private ideas–I don’t know whether I am wrong in that, President Smith, but that has been my assumption that when the brethren spoke about the removal of the curse from the Negro, they were expressing their own views. But there is no scripture on it, and therefore, I don’t think any of us, as teachers of the gospel, should speculate on it.
You remember that Brigham Young has said,
Cain conversed with His God every day, and knew all about the plan of creating this earth, for his father told him. But for the want of humility and through jealousy and an anxiety to possess the kingdom and to have the whole of it under his own control, and not allowing anybody else the right to say one word, what did he do? He killed his brother. Then the Lord put a mark on him. When all of the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood and of coming into the Kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received the resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from his posterity. He deprived his brother the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by mul[t]iplying upon the earth, and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the Kingdom of God.” President Woodruff added, ”The Lord said, ’I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and that mark will be seen upon every face of every Negro upon the face of the earth,’ And it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain, until the seed of Abel shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive his priesthood until the time of that redemption. Any man having one drop of the blood of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood. But the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessing which we now have.
I couldn’t add to that because I don’t know anything more than that and I will leave it there We should not go into the mysteries of what is going to happen to the Negro in the eternities far off, because the Lord has been silent on that subject.
Now what is our policy in regard to intermarriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro.
Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to intermarriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million negroes intermarried with us, where would the priesthood be? who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!
Now we are generous with the negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. but let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Only here we have the reverse of the thing—what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.
What is our advice with respect to intermarriage with Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians and so on? I will tell you what advice I give personally. If a boy or girl comes to me claiming to be in love with a Chinese or Japanese or a Hawaiian or a person of any other dark race, I do my best to talk them out of it. I tell them that I think the Hawaiians should marry Hawaiians, the Japanese ought to marry the Japanese, and the Chinese ought to marry Chinese, and the Caucasians should marry Caucasians, just exactly as I tell them that Latter-day Saints ought to marry Latter-day Saints. And I’m glad to quote the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy to them on that. I teach against intermarriage of all kinds.