President Nelson named inaugural recipient of the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize

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President Russell M. Nelson waves to BYU faculty and students in attendance at a devotional. President Nelson is the first recipient of the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize award from Morehouse College. (Addie Blacker)

Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be awarded the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize from Morehouse College, a historically Black university in Atlanta.

In a statement from the Church, they describe the prize as being awarded to a person who promotes peace and positive social transformation through nonviolent means. Award recipients use their global leadership to affirm peace, justice, diversity and pluralism.

The statement cites President Nelson’s 2020 social media post as a contributor to his receiving the award. The Facebook post, shared shortly after the death of George Floyd, called upon all people to “abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children” and asked those who have prejudice toward another race to repent.

“We need to foster a fundamental respect for the human dignity of every human soul, regardless of their color, creed, or cause. And we need to work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of segregation,” President Nelson wrote. “I plead with us to work together for peace, for mutual respect, and for an outpouring of love for all of God’s children.”

President Nelson has spoken against racism multiple times throughout his five-year tenure as president of the Church. In 2019, he spoke at the 110th annual NAACP national convention and emphasized the need to work with each other to improve the quality of life for people everywhere.

“Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can. This world will never be the same,” President Nelson said.

The award ceremony will be held at Morehouse College on April 13. President Nelson will not physically be in attendance, but other General Authorities representing the Church will be present. President Nelson will provide a special recorded message that will be broadcasted at the event, and the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will also perform virtually for the occasion.

This is the first year the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel will award the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize. According to their website, the Morehouse College Martin Luther King International Chapel serves as a center for the perpetuation of the evolutionary values of cosmopolitan spiritual ethics, nonviolence, service and harmony in everyday life.

Others honored at the April ceremony will include Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Ira Helfand, who will be receiving the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder’s Prize.

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