Todays letter is brought to you by Ice Cube.
This seems a fitting time (@robstroud) to talk about my conversion story, which is really my mom’s conversion story since she’s the reason my family is LDS. My mother is from NYC and in 1978 she didnt know much about the church except what everyone knew about the church – no blacks. In that time, missionaries did not go to predominantly Black areas – kinda like how we dont really preach to Muslims today – so she did not have much contact with the religion.
So Im going to tell you this story the way my mother tells this story. “So, I was eating lunch at Lincoln Center up on the green, because you know how I like to eat outside. And a voice came to me and said, D—, go across the street and ask those people why they dont like you.” Quick break – so you have to understand, my mother is not the most aggressive person and starting a conversation that way is definitely not something she would do. Shes more likely to wander around by herself than accost some innocent people in a random building. And back – “So I just ignored it. And the voice came again, Go across the street and ask those people why they dont like you. Now you have to understand, the “street” is Broadway and 7th Ave cross. Those are BIG streets! Its no small thing to get up and cross them. But the voice came again, so I got up and crossed the streets. At that time the Lincoln Center building was the only LDS building in NYC and it also was the mission home. So when I walked inside I was greeted by two senior missionaries and the woman said, ‘How can I help you?” And I said ‘Why don’t you people like me?’ She looked at me and carefully said, ‘Its not that we don’t like you, its just that we have a rule that Black men cannot hold the priesthood. But we like you just fine.'”
So my mother started going to church and she said everything she heard sounded and felt familiar, and people were friendly and she felt accepted, but she could not join the church while the ban was in place. She had felt like a second-class citizen most of her life, and would not join an organization where she was considered one. She decided to stop going at the end of May 1978. A few days later, her church friends called her to say that the prophet had announced just that morning that all worthy men were allowed to hold the priesthood and my mother was baptized into the church a month later.
She met and married my father, who was also became a member, but was never really active, moved to California and were I was born and raised LDS. I have been a member all my life. I never knew it was that weird until much later on, because going to church for 3 hours on Sunday and watching videos in the LA Temple Visitor’s Center waiting for my mom to do whatever they did in there was just how I grew up. Being LDS, Mormon, is just who I was.
This, of course, is just part of the story – the how I got here part. Some day soon Ill tell the why I stayed part. Feel free to share your story or ask any other questions. Ill be happy to answer the best I can.