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Joseph Smith and Black Members of the Church

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Kevin Prince

Source Expert

Kevin Prince serves as the Source Authority at Mormonism Explained. Mr. Prince is a religious scholar as well as a technology industry CEO and entrepreneur.

Updated July 3, 2024

The founder of the Mormon Church was Joseph Smith (1805-1844). He welcomed Blacks to join the church and participate in all the other covenants and ordinances of the church. The historical record also shows that at least two Black men were ordained to the priesthood when Smith was president and prophet. An open policy for Blacks and the priesthood was a manifestation of this period.

During Joseph Smith’s time as prophet of the Mormon Church, the members of the church experienced discrimination. In particular, members of the Mormon Church experienced violent discrimination when they moved to Missouri. One reason Missourians disliked Mormons so much was because of their lack of racial discrimination toward Blacks in Mormonism. To curb the violence they experienced in Missouri, leaders of the Mormon Church wrote various news articles arguing against abolition. 

Eventually, members of the Mormon Church were forced to leave Missouri and resettle in Illinois. Mormons built the city of Nauvoo and Smith became mayor. He sought to treat Black people fairly in all areas, including church and city matters, both of which he had significant influence over. While in Illinois, Smith decided to run for president. Part of his running platform was a plan for the emancipation of all slaves.

  • References
    1. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 682.