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President Russell M. Nelson honors Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘Abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice’

Respect and cooperation yield the sweet fruit of reconciliation, admiration, service and genuine love, President Nelson says

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President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hugs Dr. Amos Brown after his introduction at the 110th annual national convention for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Detroit on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Russell M. Nelson honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday by calling on people to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice, a message repeated on all the social media accounts of the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

President Nelson also honored his friendship with one of King’s students, the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, himself a civil rights leader and pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.

“I like to think that my friend Amos and I are, in a very small way, the embodiment of Dr. King’s vision that people from different backgrounds and races can ‘sit down together at the table of brotherhood,’” President Nelson wrote on Facebook and Instagram. (See the full message included below).

A shorter message appeared on his Twitter account.

“Our joint efforts have shown that we have far more in common than issues that, at first glance, might appear to divide us. Both of our organizations have learned lessons from the past. Both of us have been willing to listen to and learn from each other. Respect and cooperation have yielded the sweet fruit of reconciliation, admiration, service and genuine love.

The Rev. Dr. Brown joined President Nelson when last June when the Latter-day Saint leader announced a $9.25 million donation to the NAACP, the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and a fellowship to send students to Ghana to learn about Black American and African history. President Nelson named the fellowship for the Rev. Dr. Brown.

President Nelson and the Rev. Dr. Brown and other NAACP leaders have made repeated joint calls for racial harmony over the past four years. After George Floyd’s death, they co-authored an op-ed that called for changes to end systemic racism.

In 2019, President Nelson traveled to the organization’s annual national convention to announce the church wants to be “dear friends” to the NAACP.

Monday’s social media posts echoed President Nelson’s message in the October 2020 to the church’s worldwide semiannual general conference, when he said, “Today, I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children.”

President Nelson’s Twitter message emphasized that “the Book of Mormon teaches that ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female . . . all are alike unto God.’”

The United States celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday of January each year.

Also on Monday:

The Deseret News published an op-ed by NAACP national board member Theresa A. Dear titled “We are indebted to the Dreamer.” “We are indebted to Dr. King to resist, rally and work to repeal agendas that are not fair for all,” she wrote.

At BYU, students and others gathered for the annual campus MLK Community Outreach Day. The Bonner family choir performed and then groups engaged in service projects across Utah County.

The NAACP Salt Lake Branch hosted its 38th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial luncheon and honored longtime civil rights activist Floyd Mori with its Dr. King Award and presented the Rosa Parks Award to Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

Here is President Nelson’s full message as posted on Facebook and Instagram:

Over the last few years, I have developed a treasured friendship with the Reverend Amos C. Brown, pastor of San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church and a member of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. Though I come from a different background, a different family, and a different race, he affectionately refers to me as his brother from another mother. Today, we commemorate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As one of the eight students in the only class taught by Dr. King in his lifetime at Morehouse College, Amos Brown had a front-row seat to history and was shaped as he looked at the events of the civil rights movement through the lens of faith. Amos and I have enjoyed several opportunities to give speeches together, to collaborate on projects together, and to even write an opinion piece together for The Tampa Bay Times. In that article, we wrote the following: Our joint efforts have shown that we have far more in common than issues that, at first glance, might appear to divide us. Both of our organizations have learned lessons from the past. Both of us have been willing to listen to and learn from each other. Respect and cooperation have yielded the sweet fruit of reconciliation, admiration, service and genuine love. Solutions will come as we open our hearts to those whose lives are different than our own, as we work to build bonds of genuine friendship, and as we see each other as the brothers and sisters we are — for we are all children of a loving God. I like to think that my friend Amos and I are, in a very small way, the embodiment of Dr. King’s vision that people from different backgrounds and races can sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I reiterate what is taught in the Book of Mormon that black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God (2 Nephi 26:33). May God continue to bless us as we labor together to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice.