Jane Elizabeth Manning James, a black Mormon pioneer, was known to some Latter-day Saints historians in the latter part of the 20th century but was hardly a household name. Linda King Newell and Valerie Tippets Avery wrote the first well-researched article about Jane in LDS Church publication The Ensign. Subsequent Mormon authors focused on the early years of Jane’s life, particularly on founder Joseph Smith accepting her and her family into his home.
The musical The Book of Mormon portrays two naïve Mormon missionaries in Uganda proclaiming that “in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.” The joke isn’t mere whimsy; the LDS Church is widely perceived as racist. The irony is that had the church followed its initial trajectory, by now it likely would have become the most racially integrated and progressive church in America.
Paul Harvey's introduction to the history of African-American Christianity emphasizes both the
fraught relationship between black and white Christians and the tensions
within black religious institutions and communities.
It's been a while since pals
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West took up the task of challenging President Obama
from his left flank. The talk-show host and the philosopher have taken some
heat for their criticism of the president, notably from political scientist