At age 15 growing up in Provo, I grabbed the newspaper out of the box, took it into the house and looked at the headline.
I was surprised and happy. It said the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was to be given to all men and that temple blessings would be given to all.
"About time," I thought. "The ban (against blacks) never seemed clear in the first place."
The change in 1978 meant a lot to my missionary success four years later in London. Seven of nine baptisms I was involved with were black and from Jamaica or Kenya. One of my baptisms, Bill, I got to watch pass the sacrament as a newly ordained Aaronic Priesthood-holder. A family of three from Kenya had moved to east London after being baptized and were reported very involved in their new ward at the time my mission ended.
Questions and theories about the ban have continued and will probably still continue even after the recent release on the subject by the LDS Church. Some speculated members of the church weren't ready for blacks in the priesthood.
Some still held onto the theory of the lineage of blacks starting with Cain and therefore for some reason tainted. That never made sense to me. The second Article of Faith in the LDS Church says man won't be punished for "Adam's transgression." Why would people be punished for Cain's transgressions?
There was no official revelation officially starting a ban of blacks receiving the priesthood. There were black members during Joseph's time in Nauvoo, which is clearly emphasized in the church's movie, "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Retoration," being shown at the Joseph Smith Building in Salt Lake City. Brigham Young stated the ban in several speeches during his lifetime, although he also said that would eventually change.
The change came in 1978 when then President Spencer W. Kimball announced the revelation. Kimball was also known for spending a lot of time working with and helping American Indians. The ban was also becoming more diffficult to work with as missionary work grew in places such as Brazil and Australia. Many new members had mixed ancestry. There were also different views on who was was actually included in the ban.
My older brother has adopted three children who are black. Two sons hold the priesthood and his daughter is an active member of the church and lives in American Fork.
My brother has battled some racist views against his family from time to time, even in the church, but he said that has improved.
The sports teams at Brigham Young University are more integrated than they ever have been before. Some BYU teams, before the ban were targeted by protesters.
Will everything be perfect after this release by the church? Probably not. Racism still shows its ugly head at times -- from both sides -- throughout the world. The best thing is to get racism out of our minds.
Different races? It should be a non-issue.
Did you treat those who you came in contact with today with compassion and goodness? That should be the issue.
The last two paragraphs in the LDS Church's statement sums it all up.
"The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family. ... The teachings of the Church in relation to God's children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi (in the Book of Mormon:
"(The Lord) denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; ... all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."