The Mormon Faith & Black Folks
Question #40

Q. I've heard that in Utah black folks were discriminated against. Is this true?

A. Yes. But isn't that true everywhere in the United States at that time! But Utah was not a place were black folks faced a lot of discrimination. Certainly they faced much more of it in the South, and many other parts of the United States.

To understand discrimination in Utah one must first understand the demographics of Utah. There is a perception in some parts of the African-American Community that Utah is "Mormon Land" and that the Church controls everything and the Mormons own everything in the State.

But this is simply not the case!

*The LDS Church does NOT own or control Utah!

The Church owns one newspaper, one radio station, one television station, one department store, one university, one college, several office buildings, a cannery, several farms, several ranches, and the land on about 11 square blocks of downtown Salt Lake City; 5 of which house Church offices. Of course, the Church owns the temples, and chapels and the land under them; but these are not money-making sites.

Utah is not dominated by the Church nor by Latter-day Saints. Although "Mormons" make-up 70% of Utah's population, that figure is somewhat misleading. This is true because half (50%) of all Mormons in Utah are "Jack Mormons".

Jack Mormons

A Jack Mormon is a person who was baptized into the Church (usually at age 8), but who has since fallen-away from it. They don't attend Church meetings, they don't believe in The Book of Mormon, they don't accept Joseph Smith as a true Prophet, and they don't believe the Church is true (many believe all religions or true, or none are true). Most of them smoke and or drink alcohol. They are not Ex-Mormons°¶ because they've never joined another religion, and they've never been excommunicated. They usually just fall-away from the Church, and are never seen in Church again.

But, if you ask a Jack Mormon what religion they are they'll usually say, "I'm a Mormon". This means they were raised in the Church, or baptized into it at some point, but they don't believe in it. They don't listen to nor follow the directions of Church officials. Some of them are bitter against the Church. Most are just totally apathetic. Yet, they will often identify themselves as a "Mormon". because they were raised one, or because that is what their family is. Jack Mormons call themselves Mormons like Jewish people who don't believe in Judaism nor practice it call themselves Jews.

Jack Mormons are "Mormons" in name only.

Active and faithful Members of the Church in Utah usually don't refer to themselves as "Mormons" but "LDS" or simply "Members". They do this in order to distinguish themselves from Jack Mormons who will often call themselves "Mormons". Latter-day Saints don't want to be confused with them. It is an insult to refer to a Latter-day Saint as a Jack Mormon". It is like calling them a hypocrite. Active and faithful Members of the Church say, "I'm LDS" or "I'm a Member", but rarely do they say, "I'm a Mormon"; because this is what many Jack Mormons will often say. It is not an insult to refer to Latter-day Saints as Mormons; many outside of Utah do so. But many active Latter-day Saints in Utah don't refer to themselves as Mormons because Jack Mormons also refer to themselves by this title.

Since only 50% of Mormons in Utah are LDS (i.e. active and faithful Members of the Church), this means that Utah is about 35% Latter-day Saint; a large minority of the population of the State.

Non-Mormons in Utah are called "Gentiles" (pronounced "Jen-tiles") or "Non-Members". Jack Mormons are called "Jack Mormons" or "Inactives" by Members (active Members of the Church), and "Mormons" or occassionally "Jack Mormons" by Gentiles (non_Members). Active faithful and believing Members of the Church are called LDS, Members, Saints, or, on rare occasions, Mormons. Gentiles call both Jack Mormons and faithful and active Members as Mormons. Often, when they see a Jack Mormon smoking or drinking, or doing something bad, they think it is an active Member of the Church, and thus think Mormons are hypocrites; playing righteous on Sunday then going to a bar on Friday night. Jack Mormons refer to faithful and believing Members of the Church as "Practicing Mormons".

The 35% of Utahns who are active Members (Mormons who attend Church services) can be further divided into four groups:

1. Orthodox Mormons. Those who believe that the Church is true, and is led by Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. They are believing and faithful. They believe that the Church is today, as yesterday, guided by the LORD; what is decreed by The First Presidency is the will and mind of the LORD. About 80% to 85% of all active Members of the Church in Utah are Orthodox Mormons.

2. Sunstone Mormons. Those who believe that the Church is true, and is led by Prophets, but that they are inspired of God in some things, but not in others. They are called "Sunstone Mormons" because many of them read Sunstone magazine; a liberal publication published by liberal, humanist, and "New Age" Members of the Church. These are people who believe that the Priesthood~ban was wrong, a mistake; definitely not inspired of God! They also believe that the Church is wrong in it's policies regarding abortion, homosexuality, and women in the Priesthood. They are biding-their-time until one day, they believe, the Church will reverse itself on these issues; as the Church "reversed itself" (they believe) on the issue of blacks and the Priesthood. About 5% to 10% of active Members of the Church in Utah are Sunstone Mormons.

3. Sunday Mormons.. These are people who "play the part" of active Members, but don't really believe it. These people lead what is called "double-lives". On the outside they appear as faithful Members (active Latter-day Saints), but privately, they don't believe it. Unlike "Jack Mormons", who are openly non-believers, "Sunday Mormons" pretend to be believers and are active in Church and hold Church positions and callings. Some are even bishops and stake presidents. Sunday Mormons exist in Utah because in Utah there are family, social, and business reasons and benefits in being, or appearing to be, a faithful Member. Most Members trust other Members, but they may not trust a Gentile (Non-Member) or Jack Mormon. So, if a man is in a business in Utah that somehow depends upon clients of customers "trusting" him, then he'll do much better appearing as an active Member than he will a Gentile or Jack Mormon. Even some Gentiles and Jack Mormons trust active Members (Latter-day Saints) more than they would a fellow Gentile or Jack Mormon. So, there are certain benefits for businessmen and salesmen in Utah to be active Members of the Church. Also, about 30% to 40% of active LDS females in Utah get married to Gentile (non-Member) men. Often these men are pressured considerably by their Mormon wives to become baptized and eventually become active Priesthood-holders so the men can take their wives to a temple and be "sealed" to them (thereby assuring the woman she will get an Eternal Marriage--the goal of every faithful Mormon). Some of these men do in fact become truly converted. However, many are simply trying to "keep the wife happy". Certainly, for a Gentile man in Utah who marries an active Mormon woman (a Member) there are family, marriage, and, in many cases, business reasons to "play the part" of an active Member and be a "Sunday Mormon". Unfortunately, the phenomenon of "Sunday Mormons" convinces many Gentiles and Jack Mormons in Utah that Mormons are "hypocrites" or many of them are; because they know "Mormons" who are really "Sunday Mormons"; who lead hypocritical double-lives that they see, but other active Members (who do not go to bars, etc.) do not see. It is impossible to say what percentage of active Members in Utah are "Sunday Mormons", but I would guess it would be about 3% to 5%.

4. Fundamentalist 'Mormons' These are people who believe that the Church is in error, even that it has apostatized (fallen-away) from the Truth. They believe that the current leaders of the Church are not inspired of God, but have bowed-the-knee to Ba'al (the Devil), and are have turned Zion (the Church) into Babylon (the evil World).

Fundamentalist 'Mormons'

Before 1978, when the Priesthood ban was removed, about 3% of active Members of the Church in Utah could be described as Fundamentalist Mormons. However, when the Church granted blacks (actually "Hamites" of any race or skin-color) the Priesthood in 1978, the great majority of them soon left the Church; believing that the President of the Church made a 'pact with Satan' in granting blacks the Priesthood; even that Satan appeared to him in the Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake Temple and commanded him to give the Priesthood to them. Such a thought for Orthodox Mormons is utterly blasphemous.

After the 1978 Revelation many of the Fundamentalists joined apostate groups, or formed their own small churches; all claiming that the LDS Church was "apostate" (fallen), and they only they were the 'True Latter-day Saints'. These are known as Apostate Groups or Polygamist Groups; because most practice polygamy; not practiced by the Church since the turn of the century.

The Brethren (LDS Church leaders) don't like the Fundamentalists calling themselves 'Fundamentalist Mormons' because they are not members of the LDS Church (hence--they are not "Mormons"). Actually, about 10% to 20% of Fundamentalists are Members of the Church (although many or most are not active--they don't attend LDS Church services nor obey LDS Church leaders--"The Brethren"). These are people who are often (but not always) moderate racists; believing that they are superior to Negroes, but that black folks should be treated with respect and dignity nevertheless. Before 1978 and thereafter, we would guess that they comprised about 3% of LDS Church membership in Utah. Since most left the Church or were excommunicated, the number today would be very very small.

There are few Fundamentalist Mormons (who are actually Mormons) remaining in the Church. The few who remain believe the Church is corrupt and apostate, and that LDS leaders are uninspired, but that the Priesthood is still true, and they remain in order to get the ordinances of the Temple; believing themselves the only 'True Mormons' and indeed the only ones who are truly reaping Priesthood and Temple benefits. When they appear before their bishops and stake presidents for temple recommends, the written authorization to enter the Temple and perform ordinances, they are asked if they sustain the President and Apostles of the Church as "Prophets, Seers, and Revelators"(their divine titles). Fundamentalist 'Mormons'do not believe or sustain them as such, but in order to get into the temples they lie and reply "Yes". Because of pride, these few "Members" (no more than 1 in 200 in Utah) justify their feelings of racial superiority. Again, 95% of Fundamentalist 'Mormons' are not Members of the LDS Church. Church officials do not like these people referred to as "Fundamentalist Mormons" because in fact they aren't Members of the Church; or at least 95% are not Members of the Church. The LDS Church goes to great lengths to disassociate itself from these people.

When these people are discovered, they are excommunicated from the Church. Thus, they have less claim to the name Mormons than even the Jack Mormons. Fundamentalist 'Mormons' are really "Ex-Mormons". In politics, Fundamentalist "Mormons" (as they call themselves) support moderate racist parties like the Populist Party or the Independent American Party.

Here is an approximate breakdown of Utah in regards to the groups we've discussed above:

27.5% Gentile (non-Mormon)

35% Jack Mormon (non-LDS)

2.5% Fundamentalist 'Mormon' (non-LDS)

35% Orthodox Mormon/Sunstone Mormon (LDS)

This is the way it has been for many decades. The majority of Utahns (65% or more) do not believe in the Mormon Faith; nor adhere to The Brethren (Church Officials).

These figures are only approximates, but they show that the Mormons don't control Utah; although they have a strong influence in the State. Believing Latter-day Saints make up 35% or less of the population, and those who do not believe or follow the Church or its officials make up 65% or greater.

Whenever a Jack Mormon (inactive non-believers) or a Fundamentalist 'Mormon'(95% are not Members of the Church) discriminates against a black person in Utah, it is blamed on the LDS Church. Not only that, but when a Gentile (non-Mormon) in Utah discriminates against a black person, it is blamed on the LDS Church. This is not to say that active Members of the Church never have discriminated against black folks; some no doubt have. This is only to state the fact that any and all discrimination in Utah is blamed on the LDS Church, and that this is in fact prejudicial and unfair to the Church and to active Latter-day Saints.

*Overview of anti-Black discrimination in Utah

Initially, when Utah was 98% Mormon, black folks couldn't vote or hold public-office. Indeed, white folks who weren't Priesthood-officers couldn't hold public offices. The Priesthood in the Church is somewhat like the military; there are Priesthood-officers and Priesthood-holders; like officers and enlisted. Only Bishops and above are Priesthood-officers, and only they held public offices in the Provisional State of Deseret.

The Church at that time felt that the LORD directed the Priesthood, and that the Priesthood should direct the government. There was no "Separation between Church and State"; a clause which is not in the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights but in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to some Baptists in Maryland who complained about paying taxes to the State-Church of Maryland, the Roman Catholic Church. The LDS Church was not the State-Church of Utah, but Utah was a Church-State. Theocracy was considered the best form of government by the Latter-day Saints. Theocracy was considered the best form of government; with democracy as the second best form.

The U.S. government wouldn't stand for a Church-State coalition, and demanded that this change. In 1867, democratic reform was enacted by the predominantly Utah Legislature; in accordance with their status as a Territory of the United States. At that time, the voters of Utah, at that time overwhelmingly Mormon, voted 14,000 to 30, to grant black men the vote (Neither White Nor Black, p.114 note 112). At a time when Utah was overwhelmingly Mormons (with very few Gentiles or Jack Mormons), the Utah voters overwhelmingly voted to give blacks the vote.

At that time there were only a hundred or so black settlers in Utah. Eventually, more came into the state, but not much more. Some of them formed their own community in Salt Lake Valley; called Fort Union. This was a farm community, and the land was given to them by the LDS Church. That settlement survived for many years. Some of them, not many, were converts to the Church; even though the men knew they couldn't become Priesthood-holders in mortal life. But the Church did not attract many black converts; because of the Priesthood ban.

Black folks didn't migrate to Utah as they did to other states; because Utah was not industrial-based, but agriculturally-based. Blacks left an agriculturally-based economy in the South and headed for the industrial cities of the North, Mid-West, and California. The only exception was Ogden, Utah, which became a major railroad hub in the West. Many blacks worked for the railroads, and 1 or 2 thousand of them settled in Ogden; which was a city most often controlled by the Gentiles (Non-mormons).

The first review of discrimination in Utah was with the Selvin Committee in 1947. It found that Negroes were banned in 27% of public accommodations (hotels and motels), 30% in private (non-government) employment, and 37% of Utah employers did not provide Negroes with equal pay for equal work. (Utah Senate Journal, 1947, pp.65-68)

Looking at this from the other side meant that 73% of public accommodations accepted blacks, as did 70% of Utah private employers. Also, 63% of Utah employers offered blacks equal pay for equal work. This study, like later ones, did not ask these owners and employers who was a Gentile, Jack Mormon, or active Latter-day Saint.

In 1947, a white Mormon named Virgil H. Sponberg wrote to The First Presidency and asked them whether "we as Latter-day Saints are required to associate with the Negroes or talk the Gospel with them...?" The First Presidency (the three senior Apostles of the Church which lead and direct it) wrote back and said:

"No special effort has ever been made to proselyte among the Negro race, and social intercourse between the Whites and the Negroes should certainly not be encouraged because of it leading to intermarriage, which the Lord has forbidden." (Neither White Nor Black, p.89)

The second review of civil-rights in Utah came in 1953. In an article titled "The Negro in Utah", the author Wallace P. Bennett, reporting to the NAACP, reported "Near equality" in public schools, full access for blacks in housing, public facilities, public transportation, and voting. However, he also found that some segregation and discrimination existed in employment, some of the "better restaurants" many of the "leading hotels" and in several amusement parks. (Utah Law Review, Spring 1953)

The studies showed no evidence of institutional racism, but much evidence of individual racism in Utah.

In 1954 another white Mormon, Chauncey D. Harris, asked about social intercourse between white Mormons and Negroes. Joseph Anderson, Secretary to The First Presidency, wrote back on May 4, 1954, stating that the Church "discourages all social relationships and associations between the races, as among its members, that might lead to such marriages....", but that the Church believed that all men, without regard to race or color" were entitled to Ň«ull civil-rights and liberties, social, economic, and political, as provided in the Constitution and laws.°¶(Neither White nor Black, p.127)

In 1955 the Utah legislature enacted Resolution No. 8 (Resolution Reaffirming Equal Rights of All Citizens of the U.S. and of Utah):

"Whereas, the government of the US, through its Legislative, Judicial and Executive departments, is making great strides toward the fulfillment of the American dream that equal rights be accorded to all citizens of the United States; and

Whereas, citizens of so-called minority groups have and are continuing to distinguish themselves in all fields of endeavor, and especially in government, science, art, music, the theater, industry, and in athletic efforts; and

Whereas the principles of equal rights, which are declared to be self-evident in our Declaration of Independence, are which are guaranteed by the Constitution of this great country, and which are also stated in the Constitution of our own state; and

Whereas, America's future greatness may depend in part upon the ability of all her citizens to harmoniously live and work and fight together to meet the challenge of any foe or adversary, from within or without our shores;

Now therefore, be it resolved, that the people of Utah, through their Legislature, in assembly, be cognizant and mindful of the fundamental rights and privileges guaranteed to all citizens of the great state."(Laws of Utah, 1955, p.382)

The next review of discrimination in Utah, in 1957, was conducted for the Salt Lake City Branch of the NAACP. The final report was written by Elmer R. Smith (a Gentile) and called The Status of the Negro in Utah: Prepared for the Salt Lake City Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The report concluded that 47.6% of restaurants, nightclubs, and taverns didn't serve Negroes, and that they were also barred from fraternal organizations such as the Masonic Lodge, Elk Lodges, Odd Fellow Lodges, and fraternities and sororities. (The Status of the Negro in Utah, pp.6-7)

Some Latter-day Saints owned restaurants, but they didn't own taverns. They were forbidden to use alcohol. Only Jack Mormons or Gentiles (non-mormons) in Utah drank or ran taverns. Active Latter-day Saints did not own or frequent nightclubs, which were also alcohol-based establishments; although Jack Mormons and Gentiles often did.

Mormons were banned from the Masonic Lodges of Utah from the early 1860s until about 1992. The Masonic Lodge of Utah was in fact very anti-Mormon.

Active Latter-day Saints did not join fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Odd Fellows, etc. The Church officials told them that the Priesthood (for men) and the Relief Society (for women) were the only fraternity they needed, and that they should spend their time and efforts there. Gentiles and Jack Mormons joined these organizations; not Latter-day Saints.

Active Latter-day Saints did often join fraternities while at university, but these fraternities were headquartered in other states, and run by non-mormons who wrote their own rules for these fraternities. Gentile fraternities were national organizations; with rules and policies established outside of Utah. The LDS sorority (Lamda Delta Sigma) and the LDS fraternity (Sigma Gamma Chi ) have always allowed black members; as long as they were also Members of the Church.

The 1957 report also found individual racism in housing contracts (called Covenants") in Utah. An owner of a house could put in their covenant (intent-to-sell contract) that a real estate agency could not sell to a person who is black, or Indian, or not "of the white race". This occurred. However, not enough of that occurred to create black districts or ghettos in Salt Lake City. A black "section" did exist in Ogden; which was known as "Utah's Gentile City" because the majority of it's white inhabitants within city limits were Gentile (non-mormon); while most Mormons lived on farms outside of the city. The report found blacks living among whites in both Salt Lake City and Ogden.

"There are no Negro towns" in Salt Lake City (at that time overwhelmingly Mormon). The study also found that while there was a "Negro section" in Ogden, black residents were found living among whites in other parts of the city and county. "There are no blocks in either city where Caucasians and other groups do not live along-side Negro residents." ( Status, p.12)

This finding was significant; since every city in the U.S. at that time had "Negro towns" where blacks were required (often by law or city ordinance) to live. Neither Salt Lake City nor Ogden had such ordinances.

The next review of civil-rights came in 1959 by the Utah State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. They reported basically the same as the earlier study, but commented on the attitude they found among white Utahns:

"Generally, Utahns can and do pride themselves on being free from racial prejudice."(Deseret News, April 15, 1959)

Of course, this shows that the great majority of white Utahns didn't think discrimination and segregation occurred in Utah; when in fact some did. This is because of two reasons:

1. There were only about 4500 blacks in Utah in the 1950s; almost all of them living in Ogden and Salt Lake City. Most white Utahns didn't know a black person personally. They never saw with their own eyes when a black man or woman were discriminated against either by being denied employment or being denied entrance into a restaurant or hotel or amusement park.

2. There was no institutional discrimination of blacks in Utah like there was in the South and some cities of the Mid-West. There were no "Jim Crow Laws" that prevented blacks folks from going where they wanted to go, working where they wanted to work, being forced to sit in the back of a bus, being limited in their opportunities in voting and other civil-rights, or living where they wanted to live. But there was individual discrimination. Some theaters, some bowling-allies, some restaurants, and some hotels refused to service blacks. Some real estate agents didn't sell homes to black people if the owner didn't want them to. Some employers didn't hire black people if they didn't want to. The Salt Lake City Council made it illegal in 1934 (long before the civil-rights movement) to refuse to serve a person in a public establishment because of race .(Revised Ordinances of Salt Lake City, Utah, p.270).

In 1960 and again in 1963 the Salt Lake City chapter of the NAACP organized boycotts of the Salt Lake City Woolworths department store; because its lunch counter refused to serve black folks. Woolworths was a national chain headquartered in New York City, but with most stores in the South. It was not owned or run by Mormons; although Mormons certainly must have worked for the store in Salt Lake City.

Black folks were not allowed in the dance halls at Saltair and Lagoon amusement parks. Saltair had been owned by the Church, but had been sold to private investors before these studies were made. No records exist as to the religion of the new owners; nor if blacks were forbidden from the dance halls while the Church owned Saltair. Lagoon was not owned by the Church either. But it was located in the town of Farmington; a small community founded by Mormons; man y from the South. A city ordinance in Farmington forbade interracial dancing, and the Lagoon obeyed that until the mid 1960s. Other Utah cities which were predominantly Mormon did not have such a city ordinance. Blacks were allowed in both amusement parks, but interracial dancing was not allowed until the mid 1960s. This was also common in just about all parts of the Unites States during this time period.

In 1859, a year before the Civil War, a Gentile (non-mormon) journalist for the New York Times traveled to Salt Lake City, which at that time it was 95% Mormon, and he issued this report:

"Two Negro Balls [dances] were given this week, at which I am informed by eye witnesses, some ten or a dozen white women attended and danced with the negroes in perfect freedom and familiarity. White men were also mixed in and were dancing with the negro wenches. In fact, it presented the most disgusting of spectacles--negro men and women, and Mormon men and women, all dancing on terms of perfect equality."(New York Times, 7 Feb., 1859)

It is impossible to say how many of the restaurants, beauty parlors, theaters, and hotels were owned by Mormons or Gentiles. It is impossible to know if the owners were faithful Members of the Church (LDS), or Jack Mormons, or Gentiles (non-Mormons), or Fundamentalist (Apostates). Woolworth was certainly Gentile (non-mormon) owned, but we don't know about the other cases. The studies did not ask these questions. The same is true for the employers who refused to hire blacks.

Several black men have claimed over the years that the Hotel Utah, owned by the LDS Church, refused them rooms (this was back in the 50s and early 60s). However, it is certain that other blacks did in fact stay at the Hotel Utah during those times; including some quite famous ones. Some claim this was only preferential treatment to prominent blacks. It may be that, or it may be that some of the desk clerks were discriminatory, and others were not. The Church didn't have any written policy that we could find prohibiting blacks from the hotel. There are records of blacks staying at the Hotel Utah. There are also accounts of blacks being refused. The "desk clerk" or manager on that particular day seemed to be the deciding factor as to whether blacks were allowed to stay or not.

*NAACP pressures the Church to support legislation

During the early 1960s the Utah Legislature narrowly voted down various anti-discrimination bills. This caused the NAACP of Utah to hold a prayer march at the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City, in 1965. The NAACP believed that the LDS Church should tell Utah Legislators to pass the Public Accommodations and Fair Employment Acts; thus making it illegal for a homeowner or realtor to refuse to sell to a person of color, or for an employer to refuse to hire a person of color based upon their race or nationality. The Utah Legislature reflected the voters of Utah: 65% of whom were not active Latter-day Saints, but Gentiles or Jack Mormons.

The NAACP probably wasn't aware that the Church had to swear to the U.S. Government in 1896 that it would not speak about nor become involved in politics in Utah; as condition for the Church remaining a legal entity in that state, and for the Territory of Utah to finally become a State. The NAACP of Utah was angry that the Church didn't speak out on these bills, and believed that it should. The Church publicly remained silent, but it did republish the 1963 Church statement advocating the civil-rights of black folks in the Deseret News and the Church News. The Public Accommodations and Fair Employment Acts were soon passed (Utah Code 13-7: 1-4, 34-17:1-8, 1965).

In 1970 a group of black civil-rights activists visited Utah to see for themselves the Ѭnti-Black°¶discrimination the NAACP and more radical activists said existed there. One of their number, Lou Smith, later said:

"If we ever hear someone say anything against the Mormons again, we will defend them, even though they haven't really changed their views on us."(Neither White nor Black, p.186)

NAACP and the Boy Scounts

In 1974 the NAACP sued the LDS Church because it didn't allow black boy scouts in LDS Church-sponsored scouting troops to become patrol-leaders. They had always been allowed into Mormon scouting troops, but they couldn't become patrol-leaders. Of course, what the NAACP forgot to mention was the fact that white Boy Scouts who weren't Members of the Church were also barred from becoming patrol-leaders in LDS-sponsored Boy Scout troops. Why did the Church-sponsored Boy Scout Troops require that patrol-leaders also be Aaronic priesthood-leaders? Because that was made an early rule when only Mormon boys joined Church-sponsored Boy Scout Troops! Later, non-mormon boys (including black ones) were allowed in, but the rule about patrol-leaders wasn't changed. In the Mormon, a boy can became a "deacon" at age 12 or 12, a "teacher" at age 14 or 15, and a "priest" at age The Church eventually agreed to promote Boy Scouts to patrol-leader positions on merit alone: regardless of whether they were LDS or non-LDS.

In 1995, Tony Martin, an acclaimed African-American columnist, wrote Black Lies, White Lies, and spoke of Utah and Idaho (both have large Mormon populations) thusly:

"Interestingly, there are Blacks in those states, and the 11,576 Black Utahns are among the most influential residents. The crime and unemployment rates among Utah blacks are very low, and their standard of living is above average."(Black Lies, White Lies, p.331)

In conclusion, all that can be said is that in general terms black folks in Utah got the same education as white folks, could live where they wanted (unless individual home owners objected), were not asked or forced to sit in the backs of buses, could vote without restriction, and, usually in half or the majority of cases, could eat, watch a movie, or rent a room where they wanted. In those cases where individual home-owners, theater-owners, restaurant-owners, or hotels didn't serve them, there is no way of knowing if the owners, managers, or desk clerks of these establishments and businesses were Mormons, Jack Mormons, Fundamentalists, or Gentiles.

Although the Church "discouraged" social interaction between white and black, fearing that such social interaction would lead to forbidden marriages which would cause the Priesthood ban to be extended into white Mormon lineages, it never did provide Mormons with guidelines on what was considered appropriate and non-appropriate Ń‘ocial interactions°¶ Thus, each Mormon community, and each Mormon, had to decide for themselves what social intercourse was allowed and which was discouraged.

Those that claim that most or all of the discrimination in Utah must be blamed on the LDS Church do so out of ignorance or spite, and not out of evidence. A review of editorials from 1900 to 1950 in the Mormon newspaper (the Deseret News) shows pro-Black editorials; while a review of editorials about blacks in the Gentile newspaper (The Salt Lake Tribune) shows mostly anti-Black editorials for that same time period.

*Mormons, Gentiles, and the Buffalo Soldiers

A good illustration on the Mormon versus Gentile attitude towards blacks in Utah can be found with the coming of the 24th Infantry Regiment in Utah; the Buffalo Soldiers. A Buffalo Soldier was a black member of the U.S. Army. The American Indians called them Ň£uffalo Soldiers°¶ because their skin and hair was similar to buffalos. In 1896 the 9th Calvary of Buffalo Soldiers was assigned to Fort Duchesne, and the 24th Infantry of Buffalo Soldiers to Fort Douglas, both in Utah. Fort Douglas is in Salt Lake City.

On December 21, 1896, President Wilford Woodruff, the 4th President of the Church "Welcomed the members of the 24th Infantry to Salt Lake City."(The Peoples of Utah, p.132). The Mormon controlled Salt Lake Herald also welcomed the 24th. Only the Anti-Mormon Gentile owned and controlled Salt Lake Tribune gave the 24th a cold welcome; by printing an editorial saying that black soldiers would molest white women on Salt Lake City street-cars.

African-American historian Ronald G. Coleman writes:

"It should also be noted that the Salt Lake Tribune was an anti-Mormon newspaper, and the only newspaper in Salt Lake City openly opposed to stationing black troops at Fort Douglas."(A History of Blacks in Utah, 1824-1910, p.150)

There are no indications of problems between the citizens of Salt Lake and the black soldiers of the 24th Infantry Regiment. All historians agree that the 24th filled the few black churches in town, and found social outlets via the various black social clubs and organizations that existed in Salt Lake City at that time. Salt Lake City, like every other American city at that time, was unofficially "segregated"in that the black minority of the city had their own clubs, churches, Masonic halls, and social outlets. Salt Lake City did not have regulations saying that blacks would sit in the back of streetcars nor did they have separate public areas in restaurants. Blacks and whites simply did not socialize; other than daily pleasantries ("Good Morning" while doing business with each other. Some restaurants and taverns did not allow black customers, but, as we shall see later, there is no indication this was the fault of the LDS Church. Rather, this was the standard practice in all the cities of the United States at that time. African-American (non-Mormon) historian Paul Hill Jr. writes:

"The ironic part of the Salt Lake story is this. In 1896 the mostly Mormon population of Salt Lake City and the black soldiers of the 24th Infantry got along fine."(The 24th Infantry in Salt Lake City-1896, p.2 online)

On April 20th, 1898, the 24th Infantry were sent from Salt Lake City to Cuba, during the Spanish-American war, and greatly distinguished themselves in battle by helping to capture a Spanish stronghold on San Juan Hill, near Santiago, Cuba. After Cuba they were shipped briefly back to Utah, then on to the Philippines; a former Spanish colony that became a territory of the United States after the war. After returning from Cuba the Deseret Evening News wrote a long editorial about them. Here are excerpts:

"Strange that any American should not know the inspiring story of how these dark-skinned, white-souled men fought up the stubborn hill of San Juan; how a colored sergeant of the Twenty-fourth was the first to plant the flag on the heights of the hill. IT is not so strange that the private citizen should not know of the everyday heroism of these men in time of peace; the good order which it is their pride to maintain; their good citizenship-a thing which we long ago ceased to expect from the regular soldier, who is usually brawling, turbulent fellow, a victim of the vices of garrison and camp. These men of the Twenty-fourth behaved so well white they were among us that we scarcely knew they were here until they were gone and it was too late to honor them.

Each man seems to be on his personal parole, not only to keep the peace but to prove by his sobriety, his gentleness, his kindness, his good breeding, his respect for law, that the tales circulated about his people are lies; each colored soldier is a committee of one to show to all the world that the bravest are the gentlest, the most tractable, the most trustworthy. The real motive of the enlisted Negro is far nobler than the mixed motives which inspired most regulars [whites]. The colored man enlists because in the army, more than in any other place in all the [American] Republic, he approaches equality with white men, the equality of comradeship. In the army one enlisted man is as good as another and courage is not a matter of complexion.

When the battle is fought and won the black man is as good as the white.

It chances that the Creator made some cravens [cowards] white and some heroes black. The colored man thirsts for equality. He is not callous to the indignities still heaped upon him. He wants to escape from the accursed thing that follows him and he comes nearer to the republican idea in the army than anywhere else. This is what has driven colored schoolteachers, master mechanics, stenographers, farmers, bakers, barbers into the ranks of the regular army. They are not looking for an easy life but for a place where they will not be subjected to humiliation and insult.

It is, however, a complaint of the soldiers of the Twenty-fourth and of all the colored men in the army that their commissioned officers are not colored men also. There is but one colored commissioned officer in the army-not counting chaplains-a number ludicrously out of proportion to the number of black men in the service.

Somehow the idea is abroad in antebellum [pre-civil war] days that the Negro is a natural coward. It was assumed, since such a large numbers submitted to be governed by a few, that they must be cravens at heart. There was never a greater mistake. There is no longer room for argument about the courage of the Negro soldier in battle.

Once they were allowed to enlist, there was hardly a battle in which the Negroes were not placed in the very front to make the advance. It did not take their [white] officers long to learn that these men were to be relied upon, wholly, that they fought with stubborn bravery and under perfect discipline.

The regiment had never been under fire until that sweltering day in Cuba when it swept up the hill of San Juan, past the wavering [white] Seventy-first of New York. The blacks were the sons, or at best the grandsons of men and women who were slaves, supposed to cringe at a word; but the men of African blood put the white ones to the blush [made them turn red in the face with shame] as they passed steadily up the steep hill, faltering not, neither headstrong nor faint-hearted nor trembling of lip, merely faithful to duty and a marvel of discipline.

The Negro always had a splendid physical endowment. Nature gave him excellent gifts of limb and constitution. The color of skin, texture of hair, solidity of cranium and perfect teeth were his safeguards against the malignant climate of Africa.

Suffice it to say that when on that scorching day the Twenty-fourth charged past the faltering [white] Seventy-first New York [regiment], it not only vindicated the magnificent manhood of the Negro race but put to everlasting shame that of the senseless bugbear [monstrous nonsense] of social prejudice that everywhere stares his race in the face."(Deseret Evening News, July 8, 1899)

What did the Gentile (non-Mormon) newspaper in Utah thought of the Twenty-forth Regiment (Buffalo Soldiers)? When they first arrived The Salt Lake Tribune carried an editorial titled "An Unfortunate Change". It said that it was unfortunate that "Colored soldiers" would be riding on street-cars with white women; because the black soldier "Will be sure to want to assert himself with white women". The Salt Lake Tribune pleaded with readers to write letters to the Secretary of War so that the black soldiers would be stationed somewhere else. (Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Sept., 1896).

When the 24th was transferred from Utah to the Philippines in 1899 the Mormon Church owned and controlled Deseret Press (in that day Apostles wrote the editorials) couldn't praise the 24th Infantry enough, and continued a long and glory tribute to them. On the other hand, the Gentile and Anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune only wrote:

Ň®eneral regret is felt in the city over the leaving of the popular officers of the twenty-forth. They have endeared themselves to many friends and were favorites in society.°¶(Salt Lake Tribune, April 1, 1899)

All of the officers of the 24th Infantry (except a chaplain) were white!

The Mormon political newspaper The Salt Lake Herald (not owned or controlled by the Church but owned by politically-active Members of the Church) had a huge headline which read: "Glory and Honor to the Sixteen Infantry! Welcome to the Twenty-fourth Infantry."(Salt Lake Herald, 10 October 1896).

Both the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Herald (the two Mormon newspapers) welcomed the 24th when they came to Salt Lake City, glorified them for their battlefield honor in Cuba, and wished them well when the 24th was eventually transferred out of Utah. On the other hand, the anti-Mormon Gentile paper, The Salt Lake Tribune, was unwelcoming to the 24th (warning "White women" about them), said little about their heroic action in the Spanish-American War, and said only that the "[white] officers would be missed" when the 24th was transferred out of Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune was a very anti-Mormon newspaper, and continued to be until the mid-1950s; when the paper changed hands and became more professional and neutral towards the Church.

Most active black Latter-day Saints will testify that racism and discrimination is not unknown among active Members of the Church in Utah (or elsewhere), but it is rare; and that discrimination is far more likely to come from a Gentile or a Jack Mormon or a Fundamentalist (i.e. polygamist) in Utah rather than from an active, church-going, Latter-day Saint who is in good-fellowship in the Church.

Please feel free to e-mail Darrick Evenson

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