‘Mormon Land’: How new monuments to Black pioneers may help heal LDS racial divides

Mauli Junior Bonner, the creative force behind the film “His Name Is Green Flake,” discusses his drive to erect memorials at This Is the Place Heritage Park.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A monument for Black pioneers at This is the Place Heritage State Park is kept under wraps ahead of the revealing on Saturday, July 9, 2022.

Green Flake, an enslaved worker and Latter-day Saint, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley with two other Black pioneers July 22, 1847 — two days before Mormon prophet Brigham Young reportedly declared, “This is the right place.”

Flake, Hark Wales and Oscar Smith scouted the valley, tilled the ground, planted crops and laid down a trail for their enslavers and vanguard wagons that soon would arrive.

The three are memorialized at This Is the Place Heritage Park, near the mouth of Emigration Canyon in the eastern foothills, as “colored servants.” They were, in fact, slaves. And this month — on the 175th anniversary of their arrival — new monuments to them will be unveiled in the same park.

(Joseph Reidhead) Writer-director Mauli Bonner helps Yahosh Bonner (Green Flake) with his costume on the set in Ogden for the film "His Name Is Green Flake." Bonner has been the driving force behind the effort to erect memorials to Black pioneers.

This is due largely to the efforts of Latter-day Saint filmmaker and music promoter Mauli Junior Bonner. On this week’s show, Bonner — writer, producer and director of the film “His Name Is Green Flake” — talks about why he launched a drive for the memorials, what it took, and how the effort may help bring healing to racial divides within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Listen here:

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