Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Irony Alert!

As part of Black History Month, Brigham Young University posted an article about a 1950's era travel guides that allowed black travellers to plan their trip around restaurants, gas stations and hotels that would serve black travellers.

Black family vacations in the 1950s: An untold story

While the fight against segregation on public buses remains a civil rights symbol, a Brigham Young University historian shows how the struggles of black families vacationing by car contributed to the push for equal access to public accommodations.

In an upcoming book titled “Are We There Yet?” Professor Susan Rugh draws upon complaints written by a rising black middle class during the 1950s. These letter-writers documented discrimination on the part of hotels, restaurants, and gas stations around the country.

Rugh shows how their stories, submitted to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, became a bridge between elected officials and civil rights advocates.

Those who pushed the Civil Rights Act forward used such images of the vacationing family having to sleep in their car after being turned away by hotel managers,” Rugh said. “They were trying to appeal to senators who took vacations with their families. This was supposedly the Golden Age of American family vacations, but it was not so for black families.”

What is ironic is that the same feelings of rejection and being turned away would have greeted black mormons in the 1950's if they had tried to enter a mormon temple. Mormonism institutionalized racism towards blacks for around 150 years. For a quick overview of mormon racial attitudes, see Quiet Misgivings About LDS Racism on Mormon Coffee or visit the Utah Lighthouse Ministry webpage and it's section on racism in mormonism. For the first 150 years of mormon history, blacks were welcome to join the church but were denied the "priesthood" and therefore the highest levels of exaltation in mormonism. The reason were varied and vile, but boiled down to black skin being the mark of the curse upon Cain and his descendents, i.e. people with black skin. Making nice and having multi-cultural events on a campus named after Brigham Young really isn't fooling anyone, especially when Brigham Young celebrated black history month with this little gem: Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. I am guessing that quote will not make the campus flyers for multi-cultural awareness week.

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