The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reminded those assembled for the 110th annual national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Sunday in Detroit that differences need not undermine society’s shared humanity.
“We are all connected, and we have a God-given responsibility to help make life better for those around us,” President Russell M. Nelson said during a nine-minute evening speech. “We don’t have to be alike or look alike to have love for each other. We don’t even have to agree with each other to love each other. If we have any hope of reclaiming the goodwill and sense of humanity for which we yearn, it must begin with each of us, one person at a time.” Read a complete transcript of President Nelson’s remarks.
Over the past 18 months, the First Presidency has made its partnership with the NAACP a high priority. The groups have met several times to pursue joint education efforts in Chicago and San Francisco and employment initiatives in Houston and Charlotte. They have customized the Church’s self-reliance services materials and programs to be most effective for the initiative. The two organizations also came together on Temple Square last May to call all people, organizations and governments to work together to achieve greater civility and racial harmony. Last July, Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy spoke at the NAACP’s 109th annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.
“I pray that we may increasingly call each other dear friends,” President Nelson concluded Sunday. “May we go forward doing our best to exemplify the two great commandments — to love God and love each of His children. Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can. This world will never be the same.”
Earlier this year, the Church honored the NAACP’s commitment to advance equality and justice in society.
“I’m honored to have The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stand in unity with the NAACP to advance equality and justice for all,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “We must recognize and accept the importance of creating amity with those that are raising the consciousness of this nation — the Church is committed to doing just that.”
In addition to its joint pursuits with the NAACP, the Church seeks to strengthen African American individuals and families through genealogy. The Church helps African Americans trace their roots as far back as possible. The Church donated $2 million in February to the International African American Museum (IAAM), which is set to open in 2021 on the former Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina. In December 2016, the Church gave an indexed database of the historic Freedmen’s Bureau Records to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The database contains genealogical information of freed African Americans after the Civil War.
Since becoming President of the Church in 2018, the prophet has made clear in word and deed his desire to be a bridge builder with all peoples, faiths, cultures and communities.