Wynetta Willis Martin Clark: Fearlessly Facing Racism
One of the first African-Americans to sing with the Tabernacle Choir, Wynetta Willis Martin Clark says, “I think many times the acceptance has been more difficult on my part, acceptance of myself for what I am, obviously, colored; and accepting white people’s kindness and friendship, inside the Church.” She laments, “The hurts of many, many small slights, both imagined and real, heal, but always I feel faced with new wounds opening, as I try to turn away from snubs, and from derision, from forced toleration that is suffocation and an insult to me.”
As she learned more about the Church, Wynetta developed a strong desire to take her daughters to Salt Lake City and audition for a position in the Tabernacle Choir. “I knew I could sing, but I did not know whether I could sing well enough for this magnificent choir,” she said. To her surprise, she was invited to join the choir after her audition. The first time she sat in the choir at a general conference session, it was like a dream come true.
Wynetta toured with the choir for two years. During the choir’s many performances throughout the nation and in various countries of the world, Wynetta believed her “personal mission was to prove to the world” that the Church welcomed African-Americans. During those tours, she was also instrumental in sharing the gospel in word and song with those of differing nationalities and cultures.
In 1970 Wynetta was hired by Brigham Young University to help in the training of nurses, becoming the first African-American faculty/staff member at the institution. As she shared her experiences, she sensitized future nurses to cultural differences between races. She also served as a research consultant on Black culture.