Neither White nor Black
Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church
Lester E. Bush, Jr., and Armand L. Mauss, editors
Up until about 1960, Mormons and other Americans living outside the South were able to enjoy the luxury of defining racial conflict as a Southern problem. That was the part of the country that had always had “trouble with the Negroes.” The rest of the country naturally deplored slavery, lynchings, the KKK, and certain of the harsher aspects of black treatment by the white establishment in the South. Most were not inclined, however, to question Jim Crow laws, segregated schools and neighborhoods, or laws against interracial marriages. Indeed, most of these same features were commonplace de facto, if not de jure, in the Northern and Western states as well. It was with some ambivalence, then, that most of us read and heard about such federal assaults against school segregation as Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and Little Rock in 1957; bus boycotts in Alabama in 1955 and 1956; and sit-ins at lunch counters and other businesses in various Southern states during the late 1950s and early 1960s. What the “Negroes” wanted sounded fair enough, on the one hand; but on the other hand, they seemed to be making an awful lot of trouble and perhaps should move “more gradually.” In any case, it was not something we had to worry about, since, fortunately, we did not live in the South.