The NAACP and the Mormon Church: Historic Developments

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

Image source: Deseret News


In the dance of history, two disparate entities—the LDS Church and the NAACP—have recently found themselves entwined in a complex promenade on the issue of blacks and Mormons. Their steps, sometimes graceful and at other moments halting, trace a path toward mutual understanding and reconciliation. This tale, woven with threads of hope and echoes of past shadows, explores the unfolding partnership between these two organizations, illuminating their joint efforts and the voices that narrate their journey.

Historical Context

The annals of the LDS Church are blurred with the fog of misunderstanding, where for many years, black Mormons seemed relegated to the periphery, barred from holding the priesthood or receiving the blessings of the temple. This chapter of distress, officially shut in 1978, left lingering echoes that some believe have not fully silenced. The Church, recognizing the weight of its legacy, has embarked on a quest to forge new bonds and mend old wounds.

The Beginning of the Partnership

In the spring of 2018, a delicate overture was made in Salt Lake City. Leaders of the LDS Church and the NAACP came together, their meeting a symbol of aspiration for a future unmarred by the prejudices that marred previous generations. Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, spoke with a cadence of optimism, “This is a great opportunity for two organizations who have a strong influence in their respective communities to work together to foster greater understanding and mutual respect (Church Newsroom).”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles mirrored this sentiment, his voice imbued with the gravity of responsibility, ““I hope this will be just the beginning of an important new alliance between friends. The NAACP is certainly one of the most legendary organizations in the black community and one of the most charitable as well. This is an opportunity to have like-minded people with like-minded motives wanting to help each other toward common goals.”.”

Recent Developments

From this new accord, a series of initiatives have been unfurled. In the summer of 2021, the LDS Church bestowed a gift of $6 million to the NAACP, a gesture intended to nurture the dreams of black students through scholarships and to aid humanitarian efforts in marginalized communities. 

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, solemnly declared, “We are honored to stand with the NAACP to support education and self-reliance initiatives. We believe in the potential of all of God’s children, and these funds will help many realize that potential (Deseret News).”

Educational Initiatives

Education, that beacon of enlightenment, became a focal point of the collaboration of these organizations. The scholarships, a bridge over troubled waters, promised access to higher learning for black youth. NAACP CEO, Derrick Johnson, stated, “Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and creating pathways to success. The support from the LDS Church will enable many young people to pursue their dreams and contribute to their communities.”

Community Outreach and Humanitarian Aid

This alliance also turned its gaze towards the urgent needs of the present. Donated funds were channeled into endeavors that strive to uplift the downtrodden—food security programs, job training, and housing assistance. Reverend Amos C. Brown, a pillar of wisdom and advocacy, emphasized the significance of these efforts, “Addressing the immediate needs of our communities is crucial. By working together, we can provide the resources and support needed to lift individuals and families out of poverty and create a more equitable society.”

Joint Advocacy and Public Statements

In times of turmoil, these voices joined in unison. June 2020, a month that bore witness to a nation’s cry for justice, saw the LDS Church and the NAACP issuing a joint proclamation against the scourge of racism. In a joint statement, both groups declared, “We join together to condemn racism and call for peace and understanding. We must work together to root out prejudice and build a society where everyone is treated with respect and dignity.” 

President Russell M. Nelson, with a steady hand and compassionate heart, implored, “We must all do our part to heal wounds and promote harmony. Our joint efforts with the NAACP are a testament to our commitment to these principles.”

Criticism and Challenges

Still, amidst this burgeoning camaraderie, shadows of discontent lingered. Critics, ever vigilant, called for deeper atonement from the LDS Church for its historical transgressions, especially on matters of blacks and the priesthood. Dr. Gina Colvin, voiced a dissatisfied tone as she declared, “While the partnership with the NAACP is a step in the right direction, the Church must fully acknowledge and repent for its past actions. True reconciliation requires honesty and accountability (”

In response, Church leaders reiterated unwavering resolve in healing the divide between Mormons and blacks. Elder Quentin L. Cook, his words a blend of promise and urgency, assured, “We are committed to rooting out racism wherever it is found. Our efforts with the NAACP are part of a broader commitment to ensure that all of God’s children are treated with love and respect.”

Looking Forward

The journey of the LDS Church and the NAACP, though fraught with challenges, illuminates a shared vision for the future, including a mutual commitment to advancing racial equality and uplifting the disenfranchised. CEO Derrick Johnson, affirmed, “Our collaboration with the LDS Church has already made a positive impact, and we look forward to continuing this important work. Together, we can create lasting change and build a more just and equitable society.”


As the latest chapters of this once-unlikely partnership continue to unfold, the story of black Mormons, the LDS Church, and the NAACP serves as a beacon of hope. The endeavors of all parties, marked by financial contributions, advocacy, and a steadfast commitment to justice, paint a picture of a future where understanding and equality can finally prevail. While the path ahead may still face obstacles, the light of shared goals shines brightly, guiding them—and all who watch—toward a horizon of harmony and inclusivity.

By 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 Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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