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God Gifted Me My Race

Perspectives from an African American Latter-day Saint

Keith Hamilton - August 10, 2011

Trials and Proofs
In order to qualify to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence after our mortal probation, every person must pass through the trials and tribulations of this life. So, too, it is and was for many nations or groups of peoples. The scriptures are replete with evidences that, at times, the Lord’s people must pass through severe hardship, due to no fault of their own, in order to serve as instruments in demonstration to others of His love, mercy, compassion, power, and divinity. Should it have been, or be, any different for blacks of this dispensation?

In a speech before the Utah Territorial Legislature, Brigham Young is quoted as saying: “Not one [particle] of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes. . . . That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more.” While most commentators and readers of President Young’s statement get ensnared in his personal beliefs regarding blacks and Cain, the more important message contained in Young’s words is that he believed at some future time blacks would receive the same privilege that all the white brethren at this time had (including the right of the priesthood), and more. Black males ordained to the priesthood today receive no more authority and rights with that priesthood than Brigham Young’s counterparts of the 1800s. Worthy, temple-attending blacks receive no more of an endowment and opportunity for exaltation than temple-goers who attended before 1978. Yet today’s blacks, particularly black members of the LDS Church, may have more capacity to recognize, receive, and contain the joy of the gospel than some others because of the deep sorrow carved into their souls by past experiences and restrictions.

I do not know when or why the restrictive practices against my people were adopted and carried out by the LDS Church, but I do know that the policy and practices were the Lord’s doing and not the autonomous or unilateral act of any man or men. I know this by faith in God and through personal revelation from the Holy Ghost. According to God’s wise and just purposes, He allowed the restrictions to be placed upon my people for the trial, growth, and benefit of all His children, especially my people and those of His church and kingdom on earth.

Adversity, through its many forms and faces, has dug a deep well of sorrow—and thereby created the potential for greater joy—in the lives of many peoples, not just blacks of this dispensation. Early LDS Church members suffered great hardship in establishing the Church in the Eastern states, as did the pioneers who crossed the plains into the Rocky Mountains. Twentieth-century Jews experienced horrendous atrocities during the Holocaust. Trials and adversity have been the lot for all of God’s peoples in all dispensations, including this dispensation, and my ancestors and I have not been excluded.

© LDS Living, July/August 2011.
Comments 13 comments

jkuoha said...

11:37 AM
on Aug 11, 2011

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Thank you for this insightful and compelling article, a great way to start my day. I love Bro. Hamilton's sweet testimony and his outlook on life and living in this time.

hillplus said...

01:50 PM
on Aug 11, 2011

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Thank you, Brother Hamilton for your insight. You have a powerful testimony and are an inspiration to us all.

liz said...

08:02 AM
on Aug 12, 2011

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Your story makes me want to shout for joy! Thank you, Bro. Hamilton!

oneclimbs said...

09:31 AM
on Aug 15, 2011

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I think I got my last vaccine around 10 or 11. When the time came for boosters around 14 or so, I strongly resisted and was successful for some reason at not getting them. I can't say why I was so opposed to them, but I just didn't feel like I should get them. This wasn't a spiritual prompting or anything, I just didn't want to get them. I served a mission in Idaho in 1999. I read that they required vaccination and was again opposed to the idea. I did not get the vaccines and arrived at the MTC; nobody said anything to me about them, ever, and I have not received another vaccine since. It has only been in recent years that I have learned the dangers and risks associated with vaccines. Taking any medication is a risk and sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks, but since I have done well without them for years and know others who have, I have opted to not vaccinate my three kids. They are hardly ever sick, while their friends who get the vaccinations, flu shots, etc, are ALWAYS getting sick. These are just my observations and I'm going to trust what I see with my own eyes on this one.

oneclimbs said...

09:32 AM
on Aug 15, 2011

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Oops! Commented on the wrong story! I DID read brother Hamilton's article too, though, and enjoyed it very much!

truepatriot76 said...

08:56 AM
on Aug 16, 2011

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Bishop Hamilton, Thank you very much for your insightful testimony. Very very insightful and helpful to me...one of the ones who have struggled as a Mormon with thoughts of my own - mostly of inspiration, many of hearsay, etc. - which have defined my understanding. However, your perspective both supports what I've felt in times past and certainly expands my appreciation for your gift and our human challenges. Thank you...

truepatriot76 said...

09:07 AM
on Aug 16, 2011

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...wish I could find the paperback or kindle version of your book!

edmund88 said...

09:43 AM
on Aug 16, 2011

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Brother Hamilton, Thank you for sharing your expanded and Godly perspective about our God-ordained personal characteristics and cultural backgrounds that are provide integral blessings and challenges for our spiritual growth and eternal benefit. As a American-born Chinese man born of immigrant parents and baptized as the age of 26, I and millions of others born in under similar circumstances gain much from your new-found understanding. Yes, through this greater understanding of the plan of salvation and the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can see the achievement of Martin Luther King's dream in which we are truly, "Free At Last!"

nielsen8 said...

11:08 AM
on Aug 16, 2011

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Thank you, Bro. Hamilton. This has been a very troubling theme in my life as well. I have done some research and read many books to find answers. The thoughts that I have had are along the same lines as yours. I appreciate your words as they support my own "coming to terms" with this part of history. Thank you for this article. Thank you for being the faithful, courageous and "good" Priesthood Bearer that you are.

jjo said...

12:54 PM
on Oct 17, 2011

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Brother Hamilton, I find your thoughts comforting, instructive, and inspiring. I'm so glad you've taken the time to communicate your thoughts and testimony in publication. My heart swells to hear the poem from "I Am Jane." May the Lord bless and keep you--Jani

forrestc said...

08:59 AM
on Apr 11, 2012

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I cried as I read this beautiful article. I moved to Arkansas in 2003 and live in an area with a high black population. While I have not be "hit" with the question about why our church disallowed blacks to hold the priesthood, your article has given me so very much insight and inspiration about how to address this issue. I would love to meet you in person; you are truly an inspiration.

kat37 said...

06:34 AM
on May 02, 2012

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Thankyou for your inspiring thoughts. This is very helpful and has made me understand more about the church. keep sharing your testimony. God bless you and your family Katerina from Auckland, NZ

oporterrockwell said...

05:23 PM
on Jul 10, 2012

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I feel the article is great. The comments are very "Caucasian" by a land slide, Lol! Bless their hearts!! I still feel that there is a great deal of misunderstanding in "the church". A sister recently bored her testimony and mentioned how grateful she was to have been brave in the pre-earth life and that's why she was white! I asked my wife to know if I just did not get what this sister was saying and with her eyes wide open and her dropped jaw, she told me that I understood correctly and added:"of course, that's not true!" You Caucasian brothers and sisters ... please do something! Come on! Let's see the power of one in action! Lol!
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