President Nelson partners with NAACP leaders to call for love, justice

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks with national board members of the NAACP at right during a press conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 17, 2018. (Ravell Call, Deseret News via Church Newsroom)

President Russell M. Nelson co-authored a Medium op-ed with NAACP leaders calling Americans to take action against personal and systemic racism.

“The wheels of justice should move fairly for all,” the op-ed reads. “We call on people everywhere to join us in a journey of understanding and overcoming.”

The piece issued several calls to action, beginning with an invitation to pray for racial harmony and the eradication of prejudice. The next invitation was a prompting to serve someone of a different race. The authors exempted no one: “Everyone can do something.”

President Nelson and his co-authors then called upon parents and teachers to be “the first line of defense” in teaching children to love everyone and appreciate differences, noting that racism and hatred are learned behaviors.

Finally, the op-ed called for systemic change. “We likewise call on government, business, and educational leaders at every level to review processes, laws, and organizational attitudes regarding racism and root them out once and for all.”

The op-ed mourned the murder of George Floyd and, in addition to the aforementioned calls for large-scale change, insisted that all those guilty of murder and breaking the law be brought to justice.

The 844-word piece was signed by President Nelson, along with three NAACP officials: President and CEO Derrick Johnson; chairman of the bard Leon Russell; and chairman emeritus of religious affairs Reverend Amos C. Brown.

The op-ed emphasized unity, respect and cooperation. It opened by describing the love and kinship felt between leaders of the NAACP and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who formed an unexpected alliance in 2018 when they collaborated on a program to increase self-reliance and improve economic opportunity among minority and inner-city families.

“Our joint efforts have shown that we have far more in common than issues that, at first glance, might appear to divide us,” the four co-authors wrote. “Respect and cooperation have yielded the sweet fruit of reconciliation, admiration, service, and genuine love.”

In the spirit of oneness, they asked Americans to forgo “divisive and polarizing rhetoric” in favor of respectful dialogue. Throughout the piece, they encouraged Americans to love one another.

“Unitedly we declare that the answers to racism, prejudice, discrimination and hate will not come from government or law enforcement alone,” they wrote. “Solutions will come as we open our hearts to those whose lives are different than our own, as we work to build bonds of genuine friendship, and as we see each other as the brothers and sisters we are — for we are all children of a loving God.”

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