Utah Segregation

Race

Excerpt from Historian D. Michael Quinn’s article on ‘Utah Mormon discrimination against the Blacks’:1

“Even after federal emancipation of America’s slaves in the 1860s, LDS church president Brigham Young referred to African-American slavery as a religious necessity. Earlier, as both church president and governor, he had instructed the Utah legislature in 1852 to legalize the slavery of African-Americans. This directly contradicted Joseph Smith’s proposal in 1844 “to abolish slavery by the year 1850″ by financially compensating Southern slave-owners through the sale of federal lands in the West.90 Utah Mormonism’s reversal of Joseph Smith’s social policy toward Negroes was mirrored by the refusal of LDS presidents after 1844 to follow the founding prophet’s example of giving the priesthood to blacks who were not slaves.

For more than a century, Utah restricted African-Americans from patronizing white restaurants and hotels, prohibited them from public swimming pools, and required them to sit in the balconies of theaters During World War II, African-Americans wearing their nation’s uniform had to sit in the balcony of Utah theaters, while German prisoners-of war sat on the main floor with white servicemen and civilians. Utah law also prohibited marriage between a white person and a black (including persons only one-eighth Negro).”

 



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