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...

Monday, November 17, 1975

Dream about Blacks

Event: 17 November 1975

17 Nov 75 0500
I am in a car (open?) driven by Diane proceeding down a street. Passing by, going the other way in another vehicle, a Negro boy grabs my hand and holds on. I tell Diane to keep going and not get pulled off center.  Am pleased to continue without complication or difficulty.  

Later, am in a locker room with my briefcase and another small case of overnight effects.  A small Negro boy comes up and grabs my right leg.  I look down and am annoyed.  Try peeling him off, but he won't let go. I push on his head with the heel of my right hand against his face, but he is tenacious.  Then my compassion is touched as I realize all he wants is a connection, and I reach down to scoop him up in my arms and hold him. He never says a word, but seems happy now.  I leave the locker room and then realize I have left my overnight case. Return to pick it up.

It was this dream that transformed any residual prejudices about Blacks that I had growing up Mormon. Later that day I met Brother Taylor, pastor of The Greater Grace Memorial Church of God in Christ in south central Los Angeles (Watts district).