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Moroni Saw Me - Equality
Following my baptism and confirmation as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a whirlwind affair occurred with the Spirit and my ward or local congregation. I met mentors who shaped my world view for years to come like Katie Walker, Mavis Harrell, Patricia Morrell, Elaine Alderman, Albert Burns, Bishop Leet and a host of other people who if I listed them all would make a chapter in my book unto itself.
I had a crush on Katie! Now, I at the time, did not think that it was appropriate for White people and Black people to date and marry because of what Mrs. Connell, rest her soul, had taught me be in third grade (Blacks and Whites do not go together. Get the book to read the story). I never tried even to hint at an attraction to Katie. It was because of her spiritual knowledge that I longed after her. Never did I have any impure feelings about her, only the longing heart of a pure boy who loved Christ.
Katie became the focus of much of my attention though she was younger. In the Tifton Ward, she was the only other youth from my area that regularly went to church besides my cousin Dexter. We rode to church with her grandmother Mavis Harrell, a generational Mormon from Utah who fell in love with her sweetheart, not a Mormon, a Southerner I assume. Katie was the only one of Sister Harrell’s grandkids that went to church at the time.
Ward Talent Show
“Rodric,” the officiating sister approached me on Wednesday youth night. “I would like you to sing in the ward talent show.” She had heard me singing and thought that it would be a good idea to sing. She showed me the music.
“Uh, I can’t sing this,” I lied. I don’t even remember the song it was. It was a rock song I think.
“What kind of music can you sing? We can find something,” she insisted.
“I sing R&B music and stuff.” It was not a lie, but I could have sang anything she gave me. I assumed that I had to stay true to my blackness though. She would not find the type of music that I sang!
“Don’t be shy Rodric,” she singingly accused—seeing through to my insecurity. “You can sing this song with Katie. Katie had the most beautiful voice I had heard to that point in my life for which she was well known. I would seek opportunities to hear her sing and she provided them.
“Okay,” I responded as she put the sheet music in my hands ushering me off to the girl I crushed on to sing! I would sing only, mind you, only because it was Katie that I sang with! I knew I loved Katie when we sang A Whole New World from the Disney movie Aladdin together.
I actually thought that Blacks were second class in ALL White society until I learned I was wrong!
The White People
Katie would take me to seminary as an added service since as I aged into an older teen I still had no car. My feelings did not cool for her either. I did not act on them because I feared the White people. I knew if I asked her out, maybe they would kick me out of the church or something. It may have been untrue, but I was unwilling to find out.
I went to church with real Southerners, not just Utah transplants. In my mind, a real Southerner was a White man or woman who tolerated Blacks. God had his work cut out transforming me because I still did not trust White people. Earlier in my young life I experienced many racist insults that I did not understand, though I know that they meant that my Black behind was not welcomed. NOT AT CHURCH!
As a young man, only one family turned me away as their home teacher for being Black. I understood it then. I accepted it. When our ward split, I was separated from the only Black family in the ward that actually went to church. I was devastated to say the least. I knew with them gone I would experience rejection from the Whites! I was glad that I was able to have a couple of years in the Tifton Ward before we split into the Tifton first and Second Wards.
Rarely did I experience racist experiences in church. Most of my racist experiences occurred only in my head produced by my cultural (TV) experiences and not by reality. My racist experiences occurred when I was alone with a book about church history. The people, though Southern, did not show any racism to me if they felt it. I just made sure I did not rock the boat socially. I danced with the White girls, and that was all!
Mavis Harrell, as I mentioned took Dexter and me to church almost every Sunday. Sister Harrell, an older woman, was also very kind to me. She treated me as the person I was. I began to associate Utah with non-racist people because of the few I met in my ward, the transplants. Sister Harrell was a transplant. She rarely missed church, so it was great having her provide rides to me. I owe her a great debt for providing me with that service.
Funny that what made me think that sister Harrell was not racist is a comment she made to me on the way to a stake or multi-congregations meeting about the O. J. Simpson case. In an angry voice, she simply said he was innocent. To me that was a revelation that a White person would side with a Black person. Funny how now I think the man actually did kill his wife! Slowly, the members of my ward, my home ward taught me how to stop being so race-oriented. It took years. It took a move to New York too (read about it in the book).
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- Moroni Saw Me! by Rodric Johnson
Moroni Saw Me! by Rodric Johnson - Moroni Saw Me is about a young boy who goes through life's trials dealing with grief and pain as it comes and coming out on top. It is a true story. It is a story that does not end with the final chapter either. Thi
© 2016 Rodric Johnson