Martin Luther King Jr. protege endorses joint initiative between NAACP, Mormon Church

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Rev. Amos Brown and Church President Russell Nelson on June 14

(June 14, 2021) An ongoing partnership between the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will save and redeem the soul of the United States of America, according to a civil rights activist who studied with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta before he was shot dead.

Reverend Amos C. Brown, 80, delivered the remarks this week during a press conference at the church administration building in Salt Lake City in which it was announced that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would spend nearly $10 million on various joint initiatives with the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) aimed to improve race relations.

“We shall indeed become one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” Brown said. “That is our goal. That is our focus and I thank God that God enabled me at the age of 80 to stand here for this historic moment.”

Brown was one of only eight students who studied social philosophy with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in 1962 at Morehouse College before Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, according to media reports. At the time, Brown was 21 years old.

But this week Brown was flanked by Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell, and UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax.

“President Nelson, you and I locked arms in Detroit about two years ago and I want to acknowledge in my remarks that you are the quintessential embodiment of the best leadership in the faith community of the United States of America anywhere to be found south of heaven and north of hell,” Brown said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 as the Mormon Church, began its partnership with the NAACP in 2018. In July 2019, President Nelson spoke at the NAACP’s 110th national convention in Detroit.

“Many in America do not know that Joseph Smith was a leader of the abolitionist movement in upstate New York and Joseph Smith ran for the presidency of the United States of America in 1844 and a major plank in his platform was to abolish slavery by 1850,” Brown said. “He actually predated Abraham Lincoln.”

However, Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob before he could be elected President of the United States.

“I've spoken repeatedly on these objectives and do so again today,” President Nelson said at the June 14 press conference. “I renew our call to abandon prejudice and promote civility, kindness, and mutual respect. We seek to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”

Brown, who is pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, urged Americans to look at the model created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the NAACP.

“If you take what they use of love, civility, justice, and peace, you won’t lose,” he said.

According to ABC News, the $9.25 million joint initiative includes:

$3 million to fund scholarships for three years for Black students through the United Negro College Fund

$250,000 to create a fellowship for students from the United States to travel to Ghana to learn about slavery

$6 million to fund three years of humanitarian aid aimed at helping underprivileged people in six metro areas of the United States.

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