Black History Month is a good time to revisit episodes of the Maxwell Institute Podcast dealing with race, religion, and Latter-day Saints.
Latter-day Saint history and theology
These episodes focus particularly on Latter-day Saint ideas about race, especially the place of African Americans in Latter-day Saint history. Paul Reeve wrote Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Ardis Parshall specializes in 19th-century LDS history.
A historian introduces us to Jane Manning James, one of the few black converts in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through the years, Jane Manning James was left out of books on African American history, women’s history, histories of the West, and until more recently was mostly overlooked in histories of the church.
Jane and Emma is a new film based on the historical relationship of Jane Manning—one of the few black converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during its infancy—and Emma Smith, who presided over the Church’s women’s organization, the Relief Society, and who was married to the prophet Joseph Smith. The emotional film delves into some of the most sensitive issues in Latter-day Saint history.
Latter-day Saints developed different theological views of American Indians, African Americans, and other peoples throughout the nineteenth century, some of which carry through to the present. Religious studies scholar Max Mueller gives an overview here.
Janan Graham-Russell visited the Maxwell Institute last year to talk about womanist theology—thinking about God from the perspective of black women. In this episode, she discusses race, identity, and theology.
Black religious history
Julius H. Bailey talks about his book, Down in the Valley: An Introduction to African American History. It’s a general overview of the black experience of religion in the United States.
Years before Reconstruction, African Americans began reconstructing their own past. Many of them combined patriotism, racial lineage, and Christian scripture to tell their stories, to remember who they were. To save themselves. Laurie Maffly-Kipp lays out the history here.
Anthea Butler talks about her book, Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World. The Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal denomination that began around the turn of the twentieth century. Women have played crucial parts in the development and growth of the church, despite not being ordained.