Q: What empirical research exists on African American women and the challenges they face as a black member of the LDS Church?

Q: I was wondering if you might be able to send me some information on where I can find empirical studies and data, so that I may further my research.  I want to focus on African American women challenges  of being Mormon, and how traditional (black) practices and customs differ from that of Mormon culture.  I was wondering if you might be able to send me some information on where I can find empirical studies and data, so that I may further my research. I want to focus on African American women challenges  of being Mormon, and how traditional (black) practices and customs differ from that of Mormon culture.

A: Two members of the MSSA responded to this question.

Armand Mauss suggested the following:

I would refer Teameaka to the websites www.blacklds.org and www.ldsgenesisgroup.org to start with, so that she can explore what resources and contacts she might encounter there. Then for knowledgeable individual people, she should contact the following:

  • Lillian Glover (lglover318@yahoo.com), who is coordinator for African American Affairs in southern California
  • Marvin Perkins (perkinsmc@sbcglobal.net), who has his own Outreach Program for LDS African Americans
  • Margaret Young (margaret_young@byu.edu), who (with Darius Gray) is author of a trilogy that explores the history of LDS African Americans, including a number of women, such as Jane Manning James.

Other resources :

  1. The hour-long PBS documentary “Nobody Knows” deals with the history of African American Mormons, based on the research of Margaret and Darius. Margaret can tell Teameaka how to get access to that documentary.
  2. The BYU Redd Center for Western Studies has a collection of more than 200 “oral histories” transcribed during the 1980s from interviews with black LDS members, men and women.
  3. Professor Stephen C. Finley (scfinley@lsu.edu ), a young professor of Religious Studies at Louisiana State University is just starting a book project on black Latter-day Saints and how they articulate their ethnic and religious identities. He has been collecting data from various sources, including the libraries in Utah, and is very knowledgeable about them. I think he would be very helpful, and there might be opportunities for collaboration there (he is black but not LDS).

Anyway, all that would be a good start. I don’t know of any special sources about LDS African American women, but these sources I have mentioned would include material on women, as well as on men.

Richard Stamps also made a recommendation:

I suggest you check out Jerri A. Harwell’s book “Leaning on Prayer” 2004, from Spring Creek Book Company, Provo, Utah. You may wish to contact her (jharwell@mymail.slcc.edu). I think she is teaching at Salt Lake Community College. She is also well connected with the Genesis Group for Black members. A very nice lady.

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