Plenty of amazing things happened in 1978: the Camp David Accords were signed, NASA unveiled the first group of female astronauts, Spain ended four decades of fascist dictatorship, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay individual to be elected to public office, Annie Hall inexplicably won Best Picture at the Oscars, the “Mormon Will” of Howard Hughes was ruled a fraud. Oh, and the priesthood was extended to all worthy men after having previously been reserved for those not of black African descent.
In fact, it’s worth revisiting the General Conference session where the revelation was accepted by the membership of the Church and canonized as Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Great stuff.
This June will mark 40 years since President Spencer W. Kimball announced the revelation, and now the Church has announced a commemorative event, the details of which are still forthcoming. But there’s a cool video to get you hyped up for it.
Noted bloggers Sistaz in Zion had some insights on their Facebook Page regarding the event, which is only in seven weeks:
This is what we know so far y’all about the LDS Blacks in the Priesthood celebration. What was originally hoped for was a pageant that would incorporate music, dance and history through spoken word. Similar to the Latino Light of the Nations (pictured) & Utah Pioneer music & dance programs at the conference center, the local music and dance celebrations for temple dedications, or the shows at the Polynesian cultural center. Given that there’s only about 7 weeks until the event I don’t know how much of that will be accomplished.
Though we have been in The Church since the restoration (1830s) the church has never had a celebration of any kind that presents the LDS history of Saints of African Heritage (African-American, Continental African, Afro-Latinx, Afro-UK, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Canadian, Afro-Brazilian, etc). Or even brings us all together period. The celebrations of the Priesthood restoration to Black Saints have never been a worldwide celebration, each year they are held in Utah through the LDS Genesis group, and a lot of Saints didn’t even know about the 25th & 30th celebratory firesides organized through Genesis and held at the tabernacle in SLC. Obviously the priesthood ban directly impacted Saints all over the globe, and those in multiracial families as well. So it’s a huge step that not just Genesis members, but the First Presidency of the Church is engaged in this celebration.
Other than the predominantly white Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing that one African song where they clap, and the two Negro Spirituals they sang led by Alex Boye’ when he was in Motab, all of which have only been sung at the tabernacle and not the conference center, I’ve never seen music of African heritage truly elevated by the church. And we all know that Motab singing at the Polynesian Cultural Center would not be the same or feel the same as what we receive from those of Polynesian heritage performing. Even the Refugee Choir that was formed for the Women’s session of Conference did not sing songs from their diverse cultures. So again that Gospel, African, Afro-Latino, and Caribbean music would be heard inside the conference center and televised all across our global church is AMAZING!!!
I don’t know all the details on participation yet, but I know it was asked if we have enough members of African-Heritage in the Utah Area who would be able to perform in something like this. Based on all the responses in the post below, I think we do! It was also suggested that prerecorded videos from around the globe be used to allow Saints in other countries to perform too. Participation in these events are usually open to age 8 and up, and we will post the second we have info on how the church is opening up participation and where to go for details.
The event is in Utah so I know that like me, a lot of y’all will have to travel just to attend. The event is at the conference center which holds 20,000. Tickets will be free and obtained similar to how General Conference and Music and the Spoken Word Tickets are obtained. And it will be televised!!
I’m excited Saints, I hope all of y’all are too! —Zandra?
The Church has made massive strides in recent years to talk more frankly about the years preceding the 1978 policy change, publishing terrific works that go into detail on the genesis of the exclusion of blacks from priesthood office and temple blessings. It’s wonderful that now, 40 years removed from the landmark event, areas of the world with black majorities are now the driving force of growth in the Church. Indeed, 17% of temples either announced or currently under construction are in Africa. Africa had one temple from 1985-2004. It will have eight in the next few years.
This worldwide celebration will be broadcast live from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City at 7:30 PM local time on June 1, 2018. We know no further details, but there’s probably an 85% change that the ubiquitous Alex Boyé is involved.