Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People Within Mormonism, 2nd ed.


By Newell G. Bringhurst

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“While invaluable for Mormon studies, this book is valuable also to all students of institutions and cultural change.”Pacific Historical Review
“An excellent treatment of an important part of American religious life. Bringhurst succeeds in showing the Mormons as a microcosm of the American population.” — The American Historical Review

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Book Description:

Originally published shortly after the LDS Church lifted its priesthood and temple restriction on black Latter-day Saints, Newell G. Bringhurst’s landmark work remains ever-relevant as both the first comprehensive study on race within the Mormon religion and the basis by which contemporary discussions on race and Mormonism have since been framed. Approaching the topic from a social history perspective, with a keen understanding of antebellum and post-bellum religious shifts, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks examines both early Mormonism in the context of early American attitudes towards slavery and race, and the inherited racial traditions it maintained for over a century. While Mormons may have drawn from a distinct theology to support and defend racial views, their attitudes towards blacks were deeply-embedded in the national contestation over slavery and anticipation of the last days.

This second edition of Saints, Slaves, and Blacks offers an updated edit, as well as an additional foreword and postscripts by Edward J. Blum, W. Paul Reeve, and Darron T. Smith. Bringhurst further adds a new preface and appendix detailing his experience publishing Saints, Slaves, and Blacks at a time when many Mormons felt the rescinded ban was best left ignored, and reflecting on the wealth of research done on this topic since its publication.

Read a Q&A with the author here.
Listen to an interview with author here.

Praise for Saints, Slaves, and Blacks

“A meticulous study, based on primary as well as secondary sources, of the cultural and political context from which certain racial doctrines found their way into the Mormon heritage.” —Armand L. Mauss, Review of Religious Research
“An excellent treatment of an important part of American religious life. Bringhurst succeeds in showing the Mormons as a microcosm of the American population.” —Lester B. Scherer, The American Historical Review
“An exhaustive study of considerable depth and breadth. . . . The author has mastered the primary sources and the literature, and has used them for all they are worth. . . . While invaluable for Mormon studies, this book is valuable also to all students of institutions and cultural change.” —S. George Ellsworth, Pacific Historical Review
“When Alan Cherry, an African American who joined the Mormon Church in the 1960s suggested that the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies interview LDS African Americans, I was interested but had no idea how to begin. Newell Bringhurst’s Saints, Slaves, and Blacks gave me the background information I needed to put the experiences of African American Mormons in a historical context. I continued to use as I wrote Black Saints in a White Church. While recent studies expand the scholarship on LDS blacks, any research should start with Bringhurst’s thoughtful book. It is great to see it back in print.” —Jessie L. Embry, author of Black Saints in a White Church: Contemporary African American Mormons
“In many regards Bringhurst established the terms on which subsequent scholars would engage race and Mormonism. He also hinted at and anticipated avenues for future inquire which historians are only beginning to study. . . . Kofford’s reissue of Saints, Slaves, and Blacks is therefore a welcome readdition to the flourishing of scholarship on a subject that Bringhurst helped to pioneer and then refused to abandon. We are all the beneficiaries of his resolve.” —W. Paul Reeve, author of Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness
“Bringhurst became one of the first scholars in an emerging field of Mormon Studies to unwittingly use Whiteness Theory as an analytical tool in studying LDS race relations. . . . Newell’s erudite review of racist white male behavior led to a paradigm shift in my understanding of Mormon history.” —Darron T. Smith, author of When Race, Religion, and Sport Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond
“Many of the book’s points should be standard fare in discussions of American religious history, including the reality that all religions in the United States have had to contend with slavery, race, and racism in some way, shape, or form. . . . after my fourth or fifth reading of Bringhurst’s book in the early 2000s, I concluded that it was simply ahead of its time.” Edward J. Blum, co-author with Paul Harvey of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

This is a very important book in LDS history. It helps us see the flaws in our leaders and members, but allows us to still see that God gives us greater truths when the membership is finally ready to receive it. . . . This is a great book to begin the discussion of where LDS were over its first 150 years.” —The Millennial Star
A valuable study of race and racism in regards to people of black African descent in Latter-day Saint history. . . . Forty years after LDS Church leaders lifted the racial restrictions barring its black members from serving missions, holding priesthood office, and entering temples, the field of race and Mormonism has gathered considerable momentum. Hopefully this new edition of a principal book in the historiography will propel future studies.” —Jessica Nelson, Journal of Mormon History

About the Author:

Newell G. Bringhurst is Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. He is the author of Brigham Young and the Expanding American Frontier, Fawn McKay Brodie: A Biographer’s Life, and co-editor of numerous titles, including Black and Mormon and The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Bringhurst is past president of both the Mormon History Association and the John Whitmer Historical Association. He lives in Visalia, California, with his wife.

More information:

303 pages
ISBN 978-1-58958-649-9 (paperback)

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