1978 Revelation on Priesthood
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Within the Latter-day Saint (LDS) movement, the church policy of denying priesthood to blacks had become increasingly controversial by the 1960s. Mormon missionaries generally avoided black populations domestically and internationally, a decision that garnered opposition from civil rights activists in the 1960s. As the Church pushed for growth overseas in places like Nigeria and Brazil, opposition from the Nigerian government and the mixed racial heritage of Brazilians reinforced the challenges of such a restrictive policy.

In June 1978, the First Presidency of the church announced that the priesthood would be open to all races after God revealed this change to them in prayer. Within days, Joseph Freeman Jr. became the first black person ordained to the priesthood. Immediately following the announcement, the church launched missionary programs to black populations in the U.S. and Africa. Since then, many more adherents of African descent have joined the Mormon Church, though they remain a small minority.
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Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism)
Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism): Other ARDA Links


Joseph Freeman Jr portrait- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Wenjanglau (CC BY-SA 3.0)

First Presidency of the LDS Church, 1977- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Associated Students of Brigham Young University

Curitiba Brazil LDS Temple- Wikimedia Commons- photo by SamirNosteb (CC BY 3.0)
Book/Journal Source(s)
Murphy, Larry, J. Gordon Melton, and Gary Ward, 1993. Encyclopedia of African American Religions. New York: Garland.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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