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In 1947, Lowry Nelson, a respected Mormon academic, challenged the LDS Church’s racist policies in a series of letters to top leadership. Occurring on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, the First Presidency reacted by doubling down on encoding white supremacy into Mormon doctrine. Nelson wasn’t ready to give up though and continued to flirt with excommunication by publishing his correspondence with the brethren in a national magazine. Explore with us the story behind these letters and the national reaction once they became public.

Purchase Matt Harris’ book, Second-Class Saints: Black Mormons and the Struggle for Racial Equality

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You can read The Lowry Nelson Letters directly on our website:

Lowry Nelson 1st Presidency Exchange [PDF]



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  1. Mike Larsen July 3, 2024 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    John and staff , This series is as enlightening and informative as any in the history of your podcast. Just wanted to thank you for it …..and what a guest Matt has turned out to be . The use of all the source material and internal correspondence is fascinating .
    I served a mission in France in early 70’s and we had a black family in Bretagne that wanted to be taught . Loved the missionaries and the church yet we were not allowed to teach them . It was hurtful . I never understood the doctrine , I knew it of course but my heart and head knew it was wrong . But at that time no one could really explain it and it was like many other things in our history …not spoken about and no questions allowed .
    Now , at 71 years of age I get to learn all the details and the history . Really enjoying it and am deeply grateful to you and Matt for your efforts here . I will make a nice donation to keep it going and to keep Matt involved. Hoping a lot of others do also .

  2. Steve Jackson July 7, 2024 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Examples of now General Authorities that did not follow counsel/policy to avoid interracial marriage:
    Peter Johnson
    Ahmad Corbitt
    Gerrit Gong

  3. Robert M Hodge July 7, 2024 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I got the book. I just want to say how astounded I am at the depth of knowledge demonstrated by Matt Harris on this sensitive important topic. From an intellectual and scholarly perspective this series of interviews are among the best that you have done John.

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