Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society and Education in Zion joined Thursday night to celebrate February Black History Month to show the documentary “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons.”
Joseph Seeley, President of BYU’s Phi Alpha Theta Honors Society, hoped that the documentary would encourage a love for history and engage students in historical issues that can be hard to understand.
Heeje Yoo, a BYU student minoring in humanities, came to the showing to expand his educational experiences.
“My personal life mission statement is to gain as much eye-opening experiences as possible,” Yoo said.
Yoo encouraged students to not obtain the bare minimum education but to expand beyond their classroom experience.
“If you can get involved in the community and get more involved with campus events and speakers you will have so many more opportunities,” Yoo said.
“Nobody Knows” documented several perspectives of LDS blacks and their struggles to assimilate themselves with particular Church doctrines and remain faithful to the gospel through certain prejudices of the American culture.
Keith Hamilton, a black attorney and former LDS bishop, was featured in the documentary.
“I believe I chose to come to earth as a black man,” Hamilton said. “I chose my mission.”
Hamilton discussed the difficulties for black men in the Church. He believes that he is the link that his family ancestors and posterity need to keep the gospel in his family.
“If I fall away, game over,” Hamilton says.
The movie reiterated the Church’s policy in the late 1900s with blacks not receiving the priesthood and their struggle to remain faithful to God. Many blacks persevered and became Mormon pioneers, despite the challenges.
Natalie Sheppard, a black social worker featured in the film, talked about her feelings about being a black member of the Church.
“He made all people different for a reason,” Sheppard said. “So we could teach each other. I was angry for a long time, but I changed that anger to be a pioneer for the Church.”
Margaret Young, producer of “Nobody Knows,” in a question and answer session with viewers after the documentary said she started researching black Mormon history and writing about it because she wanted to use her writing talent to bless people.
“It (her topic) was an answer to prayer,” Young said.
Young hopes that, after viewing the documentary, students will aspire to serve, mentor, speak up against the mythologies about Mormon policies regarding blacks and teach children.
“Let your children see that you are multicultural and that you have friends in other cultures,” Young said. “That becomes a very important part in raising our children.”
Young emphasized President Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement in 2006. Hinckley warned of speaking harshly about other races and anyone who does not consider himself a true disciple of Christ.
Young believed that everyone should memorize and understand this portion of President Hinckley’s talk.
The documentary left many people inspired about the challenges of black Mormons. James Perkins, a BYU student majoring in history learned a lot about the black Mormon history that he didn’t know. Perkins left with a desire to correct the fallacies about the blacks in the gospel.
“It (the documentary) was a testimony to me that these black Mormons remained faithful through the priesthood ban and hoped for the day when they would receive it,” Perkins said. “All church members have their own history.”