Your guide to learning more about Black Latter-day Saints — their past, present and future in the faith

Tribune stories and podcasts to reread and rehear during Black History Month.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir rehearses at a Genesis Group gathering in 2016.

Before Black History Month ticks away, revisit these Salt Lake Tribune stories and “Mormon Land” podcasts about Black members — their past, present and future in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

• In a 2023 podcast, Latter-day Saint scholar W. Paul Reeve discusses how the faith’s second prophet-president, Brigham Young, instituted the policy that prevented Black members from entering the church’s priesthood and temples for nearly 130 years, a racist stain that the global faith grapples with to this day. In excerpts, Reeve also details Young’s bigoted 1852 screed against a “cursed” Black race — a position the church has long since disavowed — in what the historian calls the “worst speech” in Latter-day Saint history.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young University student Jason Nouanounou speaks with W. Paul Reeve, chair of Mormon studies at the University of Utah, during “Truth and Reconciliation,” a conference presenting research on the history of race and slavery at BYU on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.

• In a 2021 podcast, trailblazing Latter-day Saint Darius Gray looks back at the founding of the Genesis Group on the golden anniversary of the historic Utah congregation for Black members. And, in a 2018 episode, longtime husband-and-wife Genesis leaders reflect on their time of service.

(Photo courtesy of Jerri Harwell) An early presidency of the Genesis Group — Darius Gray, left, Ruffin Bridgeforth and Don Harwell.

• You’ve heard of the Black Menaces? Well, hear their voices in this 2022 podcast as they explain their TikTok campaign to raise racial awareness at church-owned Brigham Young University.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rachel Weaver reacts to responses about immigration as the Black Menaces film a TikTok video at BYU in Provo on Friday, April 8, 2022. Filming is Sebastian Stewart-Johnson and at far right is Kennethia Dorsey.

• Stream the 2018 movie “Jane & Emma,” a dramatization of the friendship between Mormonism’s first first lady, Emma Smith, and the early church’s most noted Black woman, Jane Manning James. Then learn more in this 2019 podcast about James’ life and legacy, including her quest to be “sealed” to church founder Joseph Smith.

• Converted on Chicago’s South Side, a modern Black pioneer reveals her personal story in this 2018 podcast and explores the state of race relations inside and outside the faith.

• Visit Ghana in this 2014 story and see why Utah’s predominant faith and other U.S.-born religions are growing so rapidly in this and other African nations.

(Michael Stack | Special to The Tribune) A Latter-day Saint missionary attempts to get an address from a woman while street contacting in Accra, Ghana, in 2014.

• Return to the 2012 ballot choice Black Latter-day Saints faced in the U.S.: Vote to reelect the nation’s first African American president or opt for the first Latter-day Saint ever to top a major party ticket?

• In a 2022 podcast, Latter-day Saint filmmaker and music promoter Mauli Junior Bonner focuses on his film about Green Flake, an enslaved worker who arrived in the Salt Lake Valley two days before Brigham Young. Then witness the fruits of Bonner’s efforts to honor Utah’s Black pioneers with the unveiling of new monuments at This Is the Place Heritage Park in the eastern foothills above Salt Lake City.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Monuments celebrate Black pioneers at This Is the Place Heritage Park.

Black Latter-day Saints lament the lingering racism that continues to canker the church, even as President Russell Nelson calls on members to “lead out” against prejudice and cements ties with the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

• Learn who ordained Elijah Able, an early Black convert, to the Melchizedek Priesthood and how his wife played a part in the priesthood/temple prohibition. Then see how life changed virtually overnight for Black members when that ban ended in 1978.

• Finally, do yourself a treat and rewatch 2018′s entertaining, enlightening and emotional “Be One” gala celebrating the lifting of the priesthood/temple ban. And do NOT miss Gladys Knight’s soul-stirring rendition of “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” each lyrical line — “we’ll find a new way of living, we’ll find a way of forgiving” — laced with fresh meaning.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Grammy winner Gladys Knight performs at the "Be One" event in the Conference Center on June 1, 2018, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the end of the priesthood/temple ban.