75 years ago today - Oct 9, 1947

Letter read from Evan A. Borrowman, a stake missionary in the Los Angeles stake, asking questions regarding the Church's attitude toward the negro. Attention was also called to correspondence with O. J. Umondak of Nigeria, Africa, asking that missionaries be sent to the people of that land. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith called attention to the report of the Council of the Twelve under the date of April 23, 1940, reporting on an assignment given by this Council regarding permitting a person to receive the Priesthood who has any degree of negro blood, at which time it was the recommendation of the Twelve that the ruling of the past being that a person with the slightest degree of negro blood cannot receive the Priesthood. President [J. Reuben] Clark called attention to the sentiment among many people in this country to the point that we should break down all racial lines, as a result of which sentiment negro people have acquired an assertiveness that they become impudent. President Clark again repeated what he had previously said on a number of occasions that in South America, and particularly Brazil, we are entering into a situation in doing missionary work among these people where it is very difficult if not impossible to tell who has negro blood and who has not. He said that if we are baptizing Brazilians we are almost certainly baptizing people of negro blood, and that if the Priesthood is conferred upon them, which no doubt is, we are facing a very serious problem. President Clark said that his heart bleeds for the negroes, that he had had them in his home and some of them were very fine people, that he felt we should give them every right and blessing to which they are entitled. He said he was wondering whether we could not work out a plan whereby, while not conferring the Priesthood as such upon them, we could give them opportunity to participate in the work certainly of the Aaronic Priesthood grades. In connection with this discussion Brother [Joseph] Anderson, at the request of the First Presidency, read to the Council ex[c]erpts from minutes of the Council meeting held May 28, 1879 and June 4, 1879, in which this matter of ordaining to the priesthood brethren with colored blood in their veins was discussed at considerable length and which minutes give among other things [a] copy of a blessing under the hands of Joseph Smith Sr. upon Elijah Abel, a negro. The suggestion was made that a compilation be made for the Brethren of the Council of all material that can be brought together upon this subject. Elder Stephen L Richards moved that this material be prepared under the direction of the First Presidency in any way they may see fit. Motion seconded and unanimously approved. It was decided to postpone answer to the letter from Brother Borrowman and also to correspondence from O.J. Umondak of Nigeria, Africa, until the material regarding the negro question has been assembled and the Brethren have had an opportunity to look it over and digest it. President George F. Richards presented to the Council a question as to whether or not there would be any objection to a Brother Hope and his family (negroes), faithful members of the Church who live in Cincin[n]ati, receiving patriarchal blessing. On motion, duly seconded, it was the decision of the Council that negroes who are faithful members of the Church are entitled to patriarchal blessings.

[Minutes, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1835-1951, Electronic Edition, 2015]

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