By now this is quite old news that I kept feeling inadequate to write about. Darius Gray, black Latter-day Saint pioneer and quintessential adorable old man, spoke at this year's annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture. This year it was combined with the Mountain West Center’s Evans Biography Awards, so it was part of two days of USU events that also included Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ron Coleman Paul Reeve, Max Perry Mueller, and LaShawn Williams - all, like Brother Gray, people I had heard about from my readings on LDS history and culture but never dreamed I would see in person. I hadn't heard of Rodney Frey, but he's probably important and famous too. I skipped three classes to make it to all these events and it was so worth it. These are the sort of opportunities I have to take advantage of now while I'm still in Utah.
Brother Gray spoke on "Redeeming a People: The Critical Role of Historical Examination in Moving Cultural and Moral Trajectories". In his characteristic humility, he said little about his own life even though he could have made it the entire subject of his talk. He joined the Church in December 1964, about thirteen and a half years before the priesthood and temple restriction was lifted, and he struggled with it but had a strong testimony and I just think it's a fascinating story that inspires such admiration for his faith and courage and patience. It's been recounted elsewhere, but on this occasion, when someone actually asked him what had drawn him to join a church that wouldn't let him progress, he just talked in somewhat vague terms about how God had ahold of his heart and hasn't let go of him yet. He obviously didn't want much focus on himself. His talk should be available online sooner or later but I can't seem to find it to link to at this time. I won't even try to summarize because I still feel inadequate. Anyway, I got a picture with him and he complimented my beard and was just every bit as warm and friendly as I knew he would be.
So that was the main event. Mentioning everything that happened or was said would surely bore my dear readers to tears (insert your own quip about all my posts doing that here), but I want to mention one thing. The last speaker in the two days of events was Darren Parry, chairman (or, as he gave us permission to call him because it sounds cooler, Chief) of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and a fifth-generation Latter-day Saint, mentioned that he would read the history of the LDS pioneers settling Utah and feel constrained to exclaim, quote, "The hell? This is only half of the story!", close quote. The pioneers, he pointed out, would never have survived, let alone thrived, without the hospitality and generosity of the people who were already living here. Quote, "Who moves to Cache Valley in September?", close quote. But he says that months ago church headquarters called him and asked him to help tell the Shoshone half of the story in the upcoming second volume of "Saints". So that's cause for excitement, and if it's confidential information that's not supposed to be shared then blame him, not me.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.