17 June 1978, 4, 6
Prophets Tell of Promise to All Races
Former presidents of the Church have spoken of the day when the blessings of the priesthood would come to the blacks.
On Oct. 5, 1840, a report from the Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “if the work rolls forth with the same rapidity it has heretofore done, we may soon expect to see flocking to this place, people from every land and from every nation; the polished European, and the shivering Laplander; persons of all languages and of every tongue and of every color, who shall with us worship the Lord of Hosts in His holy temple and offer up their orisons in His sanctuary.” (Documentary history of the Church, Vol. 4, page 213.)
In a sermon delivered Oct. 9, 1859, President Brigham Young said, “God has created of one blood all the nations and kingdoms of men that dwell upon all the face of the earth: Black, white, copper-colored, or whatever their color, customs, or religion, they have all sprung from the same origin; the blood of all is from the same element.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, page 290.)
President Wilford Woodruff, in his journal, later records these words of President Young, “The day will come when all that race (the blacks) will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.” (History of Wilford Woodruff, page 351.)
In his dedicatory prayer in the Salt Lake Temple on April 6, 1893, President Woodruff stated, “May an ever widening way be opened before them (the Church leaders) until they shall have raised the gospel standard in ever land and proclaimed its saving truths in every tongue, that all the islands and the continents may rejoice in the testimony of the great work Thou art in these latter days performing on the earth.”
President Heber J. Grant, in a letter to a questioner, dated Jan. 28, 1928, said, in speaking of the blacks, that they cannot hold the priesthood “until such time as he (the Lord) shall see fit to withdraw the decree.”
President David O. McKay, then a member of the First Presidency, in a letter dated Nov. 3, 1947, wrote:
“Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.”
This statement was repeated by the First Presidency in The Priesthood Bulletin, February 1970, over the signatures of Presidents Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, counselors to President McKay in the First Presidency.
They further stated, “Until God reveals His will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will. Priesthood, when it is conferred on any man, comes as a blessing from God, not of men.”
In an interview with United Press International in October 1972, President Harold B. Lee said, “The Negro will achieve full status. we’re just waiting for that time.
“Our doctrine toward Negroes cannot be explained in abstract terms. If one believes in revelation, then the reason is clear; if he doesn’t then there is not adequate explanation.”
President Spencer W. Kimball, addressing representatives of the media in a news conference Dec. 31,19673, replied to questions regarding blacks: “I’m not sure that there will be a change, though there could be. We are under the dictates of our Heavenly father and this is not my policy or the Church’s policy – it’s the policy of the Lord who has established it and I know of no change though we are subject to revelations of the Lord in case He should ever wish to make a change.”