Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Black men and women who have shaped history and to tell their stories. For Clareena Lindsay, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Montreal, Quebec, this includes commemorating early Black Latter-day Saints and other Black pioneering members of the Church.
In February 2020, Lindsay was invited to give a presentation at the first Black History Month event held in the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Born in the U.K., Lindsay is a Black Latter-day Saint who moved to Canada with her family as a teenager. Later, she married Hugo Lindsay, another Montreal Church member, and together they are raising their children.
Lindsay’s presentation focused on several Black members in Church history and the growth of the Church in Africa and the Caribbean. “It’s great to focus on Black history in February,” says Lindsay, “but Black history should be learned any time of the year.”
Below is a recent interview with Lindsay, reflecting on her 2020 presentation of Black history in the Church.
While your presentation was about Black history in the Church in general, it focused on Black pioneers, both in the early Church in the mid-1800s as well as Black members who are more recent trailblazers. Could you talk about how you came to your focus? What motivated you to do the research for this presentation?
Lindsay: “At church, we have spoken a lot about the pioneers, mostly white pioneers and the early Saints, but I felt that I could not fully relate to those stories. By researching Black pioneers, it helped me connect more. I did not know the stories of these faithful Saints, and I felt that many would want to know more about their challenges and how they stayed strong despite their circumstances. What motivated me to research this topic was wanting to explain the circumstances at that time and share all the information in a way that would uplift. I wanted my presentation to be balanced and informative.”
Whose stories were you particularly drawn to and why? How does your knowing about these Black Latter-day Saints change the way you celebrate Black History Month?
Lindsay: “I was really drawn to Jane Elizabeth Manning James and Victor Nugent. I was impressed by how Jane walked over 1,200 km to join the Saints in Nauvoo, and I was interested in her relationship with Emma Smith, how they had a close relationship. Jane seemed like a very strong person with a lot of faith and courage. Victor Nugent’s story also interested me, as I have ancestors from Jamaica, so it was interesting to find out how the Church started to grow there. [Victor and Verna Nugent, along with their son, Peter (who was baptized on the same day), were the first Jamaican converts.] Knowing about these men and women made Black History Month more meaningful to me. I was so impressed by all of their stories.”
Read Clareena’s full interview on the Church’s Canada Newsroom.