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mordorbund

Where were you ... when the ban was lifted

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I've mentioned before that I was born into a post-ban Church (after the 1978 revelation allowing all worthy males to receive the priesthood). So I've heard how monumental the announcement was, but I don't know that I've heard the stories from the ground (I've heard some of the experiences of members of the Genesis Group and others closely associated with them). So tell me the story. Your story.

 

Where were you when the announcement was made (state or region is sufficient for anonymity's sake)?

How did you hear about it? 

Did you think it may have been a hoax since the announcement was first broadcast through the news (instead of, say General Conference or at least a letter during sacrament meeting)?

How did the announcement affect yourself or those you knew (good and bad)?

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I was living in San Diego.  We heard about it at church.  My first thought was regarding a family in my ward with a number of kids that I just loved.  They were a mixed marriage and I thought....how wonderful. This family will get to go to the temple.

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Interesting question.

 

June 8, 1978: I was a very young man living in Monterey, California.  I had half-heartedly investigated the LDS Church in 1976 and had maybe kicked some tires, but nothing had really come of it (yet).  I don't remember the announcement at all, and it wasn't until 10 years later that I even found out about it.

 

However, I do have pre-1978 memories of how a few Mormons viewed blacks.  My mom had a Mormon co-worker who regularly made comments about how the brains of black people were smaller on average than the brains of white people.  He was an honorable TBM in all other senses, so of course people linked his outrageous views to the Church.  (Later studies would hint that brain sizes do vary slightly by race, with some East Asians having the biggest brains of all, but human males have larger brains than human females, too, so it's quite foolish to draw riveted conclusions about intelligence or worthiness from brain size.)

 

Fortunately, he was the rare exception.  All other Mormons I knew had no such views.  Unfortunately, that one man stained my mom's opinion of the LDS Church forever, and to this day she regards Mormons as closet racists.  This is somewhat paradoxical, because my mother herself was a closet racist for many years.  When I was a kid in the 1970s we once went looking for a new house, and I remember her telling the realtor that we wanted a neighborhood with no blacks. She used a very offensive term for "black" that humiliated me in front of the realtor.  She has shed that skin, however, and has modern sensibilities now.

 

I guess my point is that the period from 1945-1985 saw a lot of sudden, chaotic changes in race and gender relations as old entrenched attitudes were re-examined and found defective.  The LDS change in the priesthood in 1978 must be seen in the context of its era.  But it wasn't news in some parts of the non-LDS world.  

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Guest LiterateParakeet

I was living in a small (predominately white town whose population was about 50% LDS and 50% redneck....LOL)  (I can say this without insult because rednecks are proud to be rednecks--trust me on this!)

 

Anyway, I joined the church in 1978, and I was just 12 yrs old. (I realize that dates me...so be it.  :) )  So I heard about it, and I knew it was huge.  I didn't really understand all that had gone before.  I thought it was cool though.  I also remember hearing that some people left the church over it and I thought that was sad they had that attitude.

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Anyway, I joined the church in 1978, and I was just 12 yrs old. (I realize that dates me...so be it.   :) )  

 

Oh please.   :P  Palerider had been out of high school for 30 years by then..now that's dating someone.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

Oh please.   :P  Palerider had been out of high school for 30 years by then..now that's dating someone.

 

LOL, but he didn't mention that in this thread...I had no idea.  :)  

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I was 8-ish.  I was only tangentially involved in 'adult stuff' like that.  I remember some of the more churchy church folks saying some things about it.  I remember one person getting weepy.   I remember my nonreligious father saying something racist, and my inactive mother getting mad at him (actually, those things were a common part of my upbringing, so nothing new there.)

 

I think the deal where we stopped having seventies in wards was a bigger deal for the lds folks I was hanging around in my youth.

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Our Bishop read a letter in Sacrament Meeting when I was almost 14 and Deacon's Quorum President, living in SE Texas. I remember it vividly, and remember thinking, "WOW! I just heard some real revelation from God being passed on to the members of the Church!" I really thought it was great! 

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I was a firefighter on duty in the firehouse at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

 

Realizing what a historic occasion it was, I was very excited, but some of the other LDS firefighters did not appear to be so pleased.

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"Where were you ... when the ban was lifted"

_____________________________________

 

What?

 

Was I banned?

 

Gosh, gee whillikers, I've only been at this web site a couple of days, and they banned me already?

 

Why?

 

What did I do to deserve that?

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"Where were you ... when the ban was lifted"

_____________________________________

 

Honest, Officer, I wasn't there, so I didn't see who stole the Ban!

 

Besides, I prefer Right Guard deodorant.

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This topic of the Priesthood and Temple restrictions led to me to cut contact with the Church after I had first been learning with missionaries for about a month. Anyway I was not even close to being alive in 1978, but I have some great stories from a senior missionary who recently left my area. He too describes it as one of those "where were you when" moments for those who remember.

 

This missionary friend knew Ruffin Bridgeforth well and had the privilege of attending some of those early Genesis Group meetings, so the Priesthood being available to black men was something always on his mind. In '78 he was serving as a ward missionary somewhere in the Eastern US. On June 8th, driving home after helping with a lesson, with the car radio on, he found out from the (secular) radio station that the Mormons would soon begin ordaining black members as priests. It was told with matter-of-factness as if it was some small bureaucratic matter, then they moved on to another story. When he got home he called the local young missionaries and asked, "Elders! Is it true?" and they replied "We just heard as well!" Apparently that's how every conversation seemed to go for a while. You'd never have to explain what you were talking about, just: Have you heard? Isn't it great news? etc.

 

He also remembers hearing that in Provo on June 8th/9th people being so happy and excited that they hugged strangers and honked their car horns randomly. Ah and then he told me the story of a black woman who was studying at BYU. The student paper, 'The Universe', ran a pretty snappy headline on June 9th 1978: BLACKS GET PRIESTHOOD. So her roommates got some sticky tape, crept into her room, and stuck that front page on the ceiling above her so that that would be the first thing she saw on waking up.

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I remember it well.  I was working for the Church at the Church Office Building in the Genealogy Department.  My Supervisor  brought all of us together and read the announcement with tears in his eyes.  I felt the Spirit very strongly and was grateful to know the Priesthood was now available to every worthy male.

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The first Saturday in June, 1978, my wife and our four small children were in the car waiting for me to go grocery shopping at the commissary in Naples, Italy. It was a few minutes past the hour, and the Armed Forces Radio was just finishing the hourly news broadcast. (That's why I was still in the house: I don't like missing the news, and over there it was even more important.)

The announcer said, "The Mormon Church has just lifted its hundred fifty-year-old ban on Blacks holding the Priesthood." That was all. We talked about it on the way to the commissary, and for hours after that.

The next day, our branch president read the letter in Sacrament Meeting.

It was a few days before I received spiritual confirmation of the change. This was a policy that had been in place for my entire life, and I had read McConkie and many others whose interpretation of the ban was that it would be lifted only during the Millennium.

Some people I know would likely have felt so strongly that they might have felt the Church had apostatized and thus would have left themselves. That's sad, but I have heard the Brethren say that it is easy to tell how long a person has been a member of the Church by how long it takes to accept new doctrine and practices. For us old-timers, it can be a make-or-break event.

Lehi

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I was at a regional activity where the youth in much of eastern Washington were preparing for a dance performance. I think it was at the Pasco High School football stadium. People started whispering excitedly about the supposed "revelation", and no one knew what to think. Later that day, we heard it on the radio, which of course meant it was true. I remember thinking that we must certainly be in the last days when all things shall be fulfilled.

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I would have been two years old when this revelation and proclamation was received; however, my mission president was a bishop for the black wards.  He shared wonderful experiences he had while serving as a bishop, and when called as a General Authority his first talk highlighted some of those experiences.

 

In one of our Zone Conferences he shared how he was serving as a bishop for one of these wards when the announcement was made.  He received the letter, opened it, and instantly tears filled his eyes.  Upon reading the letter, he exited his office and located some of the black members in his ward.  He said it was about 4 other people, all black.  He read the letter.  He described the immense feeling in that room and how the Spirit testified of its truthfulness.  When he finished reading the letter one of the members shared how his PB mentioned he would receive the priesthood; although, he interpreted his PB as specifying in the next life, as he didn't think he would live to see the Millennium.  Once they shared their feelings, my mission president placed his hands upon one member, and then the next, and then the next.

 

As each were ordained and set apart they then would assist in the next person receiving the priesthood.  He described his thought as his hands were laid on their heads, and then to see his black brothers with hands on top of his was wonderful!  He describes it as one of his most memorable experiences in the Church.

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Guest

Wow, I really don't want to take away from eloquent Anddenex' post.  But I had a poor experience.

 

I remember during my formative years, I kept asking why the ban even existed.  Many gave theories.  None of them made sense.  I just kept wondering for years.

 

Finally, the revelation was read in church.  I was very tired from several long days and short nights.  I slept right through sacrament meeting.  My family started talking about it in the car on the way home.  I had no idea what they were talking about.

 

When we got home, I asked for clarification.  They were surprised that I slept through it -- a rare occurrence back then.  They filled me in.  I thought,"Hmph.  There it is.  So all those theories were wrong, apparently.  Well, good.  It's about time."

Edited by Guest

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Note that the revelation did not prove "all the theories wrong", only those that specified something directly contrary to the fact of the revelation (e.g that no man with African blood would receive the Priesthood until the Second Coming or something of the sort). I don't buy into the various theories of the time, but it is incorrect to say that they were all proven false by the 1978 revelation. They were not.

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I find it interesting that I have to clarify such a commonplace statement.

 

"All those theories" referred to the theories which I was told growing up.  And, yes, all of the ones I grew up hearing were variations and elaborations on that central theme.

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I was not a member of the church at the time, so it didn't mean much to me when I heard  it and don't rmember how or where.  Probably just a newspaper article.

In Institute (adult gospel study, also) the instructor said bro David probably remember where he was.  But then he learned why I didn't think much of it.

He said he heard it on the radio (in Utah) and didn't believe it because he thought it would be announced only in Sacrament meeting or something, not on the radio.

Then he described some reactions he saw and heard of, some good, some bad.

dc

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I was 26 years old, been out of the church for 8 years, living on the central Oregon coast. My sister, who has always been active in church. called me to tell me the news.

 

In response I said: It is about time. 

 

About 10 years later this white family moved into my town. Four brothers, wives, children and Pop & Mom. One of the DIL's came to work where I did. She was active in Church and her FIL allowed her to go to church as long as she didn't accept a calling. They had left the church after the ban was lifted. After meeting her In-Laws it was easy to understand. They were displaced KKK'ers. 

 

They left town in the middle of the night, leaving behind unpaid bills, and jobs only partially done. Some in town figured them to be Gypsy's - scamming the locals with bogus contracting work. After being in her FIL's house and seeing all the KKK crap laying around, figured they weren't Gypsy's. 

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