Mormon leaders again meet with NAACP brass as work on joint education, jobs initiative continues

A high-level Mormon leader said in July that newly established ties between the NAACP and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be no “flash in the pan.”

Indeed, the knot seems to be even stronger today.

For the third time in five months, NAACP brass have met with top Latter-day Saint authorities. The latest talks took place Friday and Saturday before the Utah-based faith’s weekend General Conference.

Department heads and staffers with the two groups “advanced conversations and efforts on their [joint] education and employment initiative,” according to a church news release. No details were released.

Before Saturday’s conference sessions, Latter-day Saint leaders, including apostles M. Russell Ballard, Ronald A. Rasband and Gary E. Stevenson, hosted their visitors, led by NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell, Vice Chair Karen Boykin-Towns; the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, at a breakfast.

In a May summit, church President Russell M. Nelson and NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson huddled and pledged to work together on various programs. Two months later, the institutions announced an education and employment initiative on the East Coast with plans to undertake more unified ventures.

For decades, the church’s centurylong ban barring black men and boys from its all-male priesthood and women and girls from its temples kept the Utah-based faith at odds with the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

Now, 40 years after that prohibition was lifted, the NAACP and the church are not only on speaking terms but also friendly and fruitful ones.