MDH comments on racial attitudes during mission to Cincinnati (esp. re: L/MH).

May 18, 1989
Marion D. Hanks
Scribed Verbatim

Marion D. Hanks, Interview with Jessie L. Embry, May 18, transcript, HBLL

Hanna Seariac, Jessie Embry
Marion D. Hanks, Len Hope, Jessie Embry, Mary Hope
Jessie Embry

Having grown up with some black people on the west side of Salt Lake City, I was not offended by nor turned off by black people. But Cincinnati is on the Mason-Dixon line, and there is an area in the outskirts of Cincinnati where there was a very big racial strife at that time because of the attitude of the whites fundamentally. That’s another interesting story. We scarcely dared walk through that portion of town. We did it anyway, carrying our big record player for the records missionaries sometimes used then.

The Hope family did not always come to church because they were not always welcome. There was kind of an unwritten rule that they would not come except on special occasions. On a district conference they were always there. They always stood out on the front steps and greeted all the people including those that the missionaries brought. Some of them were not advanced in their sense of the value of other human beings but geared that to their own sense of ethnic purity and color. Even some of the members would not agree to their coming regularly. They were always there on special days when missionaries would bring special people.

I guess what I felt then was some defensiveness. I used to go stand by them while the guests arrived with other missionaries. I felt that way until the moment I spoke at Brother Hope’s funeral and do feel that way now. I was not able to accommodate other people’s sense of propriety in trying to keep black people away. I don’t stand on high moral ground on that but simply say that Franklin and Ivory Bass used to live in the old West High neighborhood by the railroad tracks where I grew up. They were as welcome in our home as anybody else. I’m not sure we knew about their color.

When I felt rather than heard this sense of reticence in the Cincinnati Branch members—who were wonderful people but Southerners—about the Hopes coming, I know of put an arm around the Hopes. I had to overcome my own reaction to their prejudice, being prejudice myself against their prejudice.

BHR Staff Commentary

The transcript of the Marion D. Hanks Interview is not available for photocopy replication.

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