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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Allan C. Jackson, 104, of Salt Lake City walks into Calvary Baptist Church to view "The Wisdom of Our Years" Sunday.

Dovie Goodwin's father was shot and killed for being "too prosperous."

Frank Satterwhite was only allowed in the community swimming pool on days when the lifeguard was not working.

The struggles of black Utahns are well-chronicled in "The Wisdom of Our Years," a documentary produced by the state's chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. As part of Black History Month observances, the film was shown to a crowd of about 300 people at the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

A look back, they said, so they might better focus on the future.

"I hope their kindness will help teach us," said John Crossman, who helped produce the documentary.

As generations transition from one to the next, black leaders hoped the message of their elders would resonate with the youth.

"I couldn't find a job," Eva Sexton recalled in the film. "I walked from one end of Main Street to the other end." Sexton was turned down for jobs because, she said, "When I walked in, I walked in black."

More than 50 years later, the sentiment hit home for University of Utah professor Lynette Danley. The first black professor in her department's history said she was asked how she might handle being the only black woman in an all-white department.

"I told them, 'I've been black my whole life. How are you going to handle it?"' she said.

On his first day in Utah, Allan C. Jackson, a 104-year-old featured in the documentary, said he didn't see another black person.

Utah State University senior Richard Wilkinson can relate to Jackson's story on some level.

"I went to school with 2,100 other people, and I was one of two black kids," he said.

Even with increased efforts to break down racial barriers, "changed laws do not equal changed minds," Danley said. Wilkinson, who moved to Utah from Maryland when he was 12, said he has experienced racism — perhaps unintentional — throughout his life.

"People would always tell me I don't talk like a black person, he said. "How does a black person talk?"

Still, Danley and Wilkinson said their struggles pale in comparison to those of their elders.

Jackson married in Elko, Nev., because no one would perform the ceremony in Salt Lake. Goodwin was kicked out of restaurants and movie theaters.

When Sexton and her husband tried to buy a house in a "white neighborhood" on Salt Lake's east side, the real estate agent turned them away. A white friend, a bank employee, told the couple it was because of their race but said he could help them get the home.

"Do you really want that house? They don't want us there," she recalled her husband saying.

"That's one of the reasons I want it," she replied.

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