Comments about ‘100 years since Booker T. Washington’s historic visit to the Mormons’

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Prominent educator, author, speaker visited Salt Lake 100 years ago

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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I have a difficult time believing this article... For many reasons... Just sayin...

Taylorsville, Utah

Thank you for sharing this bit of history. I'm touched by it.


Regardless of what cynics may think, its great article and compliment on Utah society in the face of overall oppresion during Mr. Washington's era. Sure, I would concede that there was a small group of dissadents who despised Booker, but it's safe to say that he it was not the majority opinion. Thanks for this great historic piece.

Kalispell, MT

I notice that when most people use the inane phrase "just sayin'," it is because they know their comment is rude, inappropriate or unsupported. When individuals have "many reasons" for disbelieving published historical accounts and yet fail to cite even one that supports my observations on people who use the phrase 'just sayin'." Personally, I can see why individuals of two persecuted but distinct groups would empathize with and find great pleasure in seeing the success of those whom they would naturally regard as their peers. Does that mean that the feeling was universal amongst all the members? No, but the article does provide us with an interesting snap-shot in the history of America, Utah and the LDS Church.

Burke, VA

I found this article to be enlightening and educational. Certainly the Saints at the time of Washington's visit were still feeling the sting of persecution from mainstream America much like Washington and his people were feeling. Even after "the law" allowed for both groups to become legitimate citizens it took, and continues to take, the passage of time for people to stop believing the worst of what they hear about a religious group or race of people. Thank you for bringing the vignette of history forward and educating all of us about a time and experience we all should look to as a model of our behavior today.

PCMed - Please share just a few of the many reasons you find this article difficult to believe.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

If you have a hard time believing this, you can find the text of the letter online. I scanned it. Quite positive.

G L W8

I'm glad to see some attention drawn to Booker T. Washington. Yes, he has been largely forgotten. Part of that is due to the Black community themselves; many of them don't value his contribution for various reasons, most of them political in nature. Conservative Blacks especially should revitalize his legacy.

Bountiful, UT

A great article about Utah, LDS and African-American history. I'm glad it didn't "whitewash" that Booker T. Washington was not allowed to stay at the Hotel Utah. That was the reality.

There was a longtime member of Calvary Baptist Church here in SLC named Brother Styles who passed away maybe 5 years ago who worked at the Hotel Utah as a shoe-shiner, though he was not allowed to stay there himself. Much of this history is important and needs to be saved.

Who can deny the goodness and industriousness among the LDS population that Booker Washington found admirable? Very impressive.

At the same time, it's still mysterious and perhaps "unexplainable" how the Mormons could engage such an impressive figure as Washington and not look inwardly more intently at their racist beliefs and doctrine / policy / "direct commandment from God" (from the First Presidency in 1949), especially given Joseph Smith's ordination of the Priesthood to blacks, and the sharp turn away from that practice, and the stubborn persistence in that line of thinking until 1978.

Nonetheless, for those of us who went through that time period, today's views on race among LDS are refreshing.

Grants Pass, OR

When the ban on the priesthood was lifted I cried for joy! I imagine that many other "white" Saints did the same. I was taught that all races are Heavenly Father's children. In the early Church many slaves were helped by the LDS people. That is a story that is not often mentioned. This article was another sign that the Church recognizes greatness wherever it is found. I am glad that Booker T. Washington found his visit to Utah to be a pleasant one. Thanks for this enjoyable article of a piece of history.

Elk Grove, CA

I don't care much for Booker T. Washington. His adherence to the philosophy of accepting discrimination and accommodating it almost set the Civil Rights Movement back. He only pushed more material prosperity in the black community. On the other hand, W.E.B. DuBois said no to Washington's strategy since it would only serve to perpetuate white oppression. Du Bois advocated political action and a civil rights agenda (he helped found the NAACP). In addition, he argued that social change could be accomplished by developing the small group of college-educated blacks.
DuBois and those like him are the true heroes of the African American community.

layton, UT

RE: Twin Lights, if you have a hard time believing:
Joseph Fielding Smith, The doctrine did not originate with President Brigham Young but was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith…we all it is due to his teaching that the negro today is barred from the Priesthood. The Way to perfection, pp 110-111.

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called the black man, Lucius (from Cyrene)….(Acts 13:1 NLT)

God is … the King eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1Tim 1:17). Skin color is not an issue.

Idaho Falls, ID

It is a heart warming to see that the community was respectful to BT Washington back in the day. I wouldn't necessarily describe this occasion as the local community being a driving force behind racial equality. Their long time support of Louis Agassiz, the Swiss American who spend decades "proving" that African Americans were not as intelligent as Caucasians, provides another insight into the cultural foundations of the local community at the time.

It would be refreshing on occasion (not always, just once in a while) for a religious community to be the driving force behind social changes, rather than being the last hold out, being dragged screaming and yelling into a new modern social order.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

I loved this line --

“They have certainly made the desert blossom as a rose,” Washington recorded after his trip. “I have never been among a more intelligent, healthy, clean, PROGRESSIVE, moral set of people than these people are …."

My, how things have changed in 100 years.
The Intelligent, Progressive Mormons seem to have become the minority in the community today.

Herbert Gravy
Salinas, CA

"LDS Liberal"- And, just how ARE things under that rock?

Herbert Gravy
Salinas, CA

It would be wonderful if every young person would read his bio "Up From Slavery"? If he could accomplish what he did given his overwhelming disadvantages, anything is possible!

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

LDS? lib
today intelligent and progressive are contradictory.

Hyrum, Ut

I found this a very educational article. I was unaware that Mr. Washington had vivited Utah.

I found the racism, bias, and bigotry of some of the comments alarming. You do not put out a camp fire by throwing wood on it. We can disagree without being disagreeable. You have different views that I do but to make remarks that stir the fire is to keep it going. Sure, there were mistakes and myoptic views by people of all races, religions, etc. but to keep bringing it up and up and up does not advance the platform of peace.

We also must understand that each of us sees truth differently. Truth can be found but not by a closed mind. The Lord's method is to ask, seek, and knock. If we are relying on our own understanding we will be led down the wrong path eventually.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Hard time believing what? I am no historian but I am reasonably familiar with both the history of the church and the scriptures.

Were you responding to my earlier post? That was a specific response to previous postaers who seemed to have a hard time believing that Mr. Washington actually had nice things to say about the Mormons (imagine that . . .).

If you are going to respond to me, please, please do so on what I have actually commented about. I will try to afford you the same benefit.

BTW, scattergun quotes really don’t help engage a conversation. At least not for me.

Bountiful, UT

IJ from Hyrum:

Good thoughts. It often takes a mosaic of opinions to move forward, but to extend your analogy, when the children of today ask what the pile of ashes and circle of stones are, we should explain the campfire.

In the interest of understanding, "rafinsure" from Elk Grove, CA provides keen insight into a dominant line of thinking from African Americans today. For every Booker T. Washington, there was a W.E.B DuBois, Martin Luther King had Malcolm X.

The point can certainly be made that without more aggressive seekers of social justice, progress may have been slower, or maybe even not been made. After the Civil War, after emancipation, the South certainly took a giant step backward with Jim Crow laws, lynchings, etc. The case can certainly be made that without pressure from the outside, and aggressive agitation, we might still have segregation.

Martin Luther King is honored today as a hero for all Americans, but in his time he was accused of being a communist, an anti-American bent on the destruction of our nation.

Change often involves struggle, and those campfires should be remembered, not covered up.


@LDS Liberal

You're confused because the word "progressive" has been twisted to mean quite the opposite in today's lexicon as it once did, as has the term "liberal". The progressive utopia is nothing more than the old tyranny, where everything is wonderful if we would just give up our liberty and conform to how the "wisest" among us would have us live. This equation fails because human nature is such that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The "wisest" inevitably either become tyrants or are displaced by tyrants.

Yes, there are utopianists - tyrants in embryo - on both sides of the political spectrum.

And those who perpetually engage in cognitive infiltration simply for the sake of contention are a sorry lot. You know who you are.

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