Tuesday, November 18, 1975

Meeting Brother Taylor

Original Event: 17 November 1975
Updated: 21 Nov 2013

My first encounter with a black man was in spring 1953 at Fort Ord, California, where I was in basic training during the Korean War. He was a fellow new recruit and he beat me up for my intense protest to his calling me a "mother f**ker". I was afraid of him and other blacks from then on.

I had been raised in Phoenix, Arizona, which in those days was segregated. Blacks had their own schools, so there was no interaction. Furthermore, there was never occasion to associate with blacks in religious circles, since the Mormon Church did not allow black men to hold any kind of leadership position. I was unaware of any black members of the Mormon Church.

My next encounter with a black man was on my birthday, November 17, 1975, more than 22 years later, when my then-fiance Diane introduced me to a friend of hers named "Brother Taylor", a flamboyant black Pentecostal minister from South Central Los Angeles (Watts). She wanted me to sing a Negro Spiritual for him, not knowing anything about my prior experience nor my dreams of that morning.

I don't recall what spiritual I sang, but he hired me on the spot to sing on his regular Sunday morning radio broadcast. He also informed me that he was a long-time admirer of Mormons. (I later learned he had three wives!) That began a very close relationship that I will treasure as long as I live.

To be continued...


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