How a Black NFL Player Converted to the Church Just 4 Years After the Priesthood Ban Ended

Burgess Owens played starting position for the Oakland Raiders when they won the Super Bowl in 1981. Just a year later, good LDS teammates and the feeling that there was “something missing” led Owens to meet with the missionaries. 

“Oh, it’s going to be easy to remember your guys’ first name. You’re both named Elder,” Owens remembers saying the first time he met the missionaries.

Although Owens began to feel that joining the Church was the right thing to do, he felt concerns regarding issues of race in the Church. It was just four years before black men were not allowed to receive the priesthood.  “I’ve always been proud of my race,” Owens says.

But one statement from a trusted leader changed everything. “After that one statement, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Owens says. 


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