Ways to improve Mormon race relations

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Here are some ideas, taken from interviews, about improving race relations within the LDS Church:

• Extend the church's Perpetual Education Fund, a much-praised program that has helped 3,913 men and women from 24 African countries advance their schooling, to America's urban centers.

• Invest more money and time in recruiting, preparing and supporting African-American students at church-owned schools.

• Expand the faith's Oral History Project — which has been so successful in Nigeria and Ghana by documenting 5 million family names — to include more places in the U.S., sending field workers into urban centers to record interviews with black members, hearing their conversion tales and making those widely available online.

• Cast a black Adam and Eve in films shown in Mormon temples.

• Display more art featuring black people in church buildings.

• Put a greater focus on mentorship and fellowshipping in a race-conscious manner at all levels of church membership.

• Deliver more talks from LDS leaders, in formal settings, spelling out the specifics of what racism entails and the doctrinal fallacies of pre-existence valiance, or lack thereof, resulting in mortal races, as opposed to simply saying "racism is bad."

• Show the documentary film, "Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons," in every ward and make it available in every congregation's library.

• Teach children about heroic black Mormon lives, such as Jane Manning James and Elijah Abel.

Peggy Fletcher Stack