DVD Release for Nobody Knows

DVD Release for Nobody Knows:
A Documentary About African American History in the Mormon Church

PROVO, Utah, May 1st, 2012 — Nobody Knows LLC proudly presents Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. This documentary tells the story of African Americans in the LDS Church, beginning from the earliest days of the Mormon faith. The DVD release of the film features 72 minutes of footage in addition to 100 minutes of special features.

Praise for Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons

The award-winning documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons has been showcased in a truncated form on the Documentary Channel, where—in addition to regular showings—the film was featured as part of “the Best of Black Documentary Cinema.”
This balanced documentary gives an unflinching look at how the policies and members of the LDS Church played into the topic of race relations from the days of the Old American West through the 21st century. With a political race this November that is likely to feature both an LDS and an African American candidate, the subject matter is becoming increasingly topical.

About the Film

While few are aware of the true extent of African American presence in the LDS Church, the reality is that Black members of the LDS Church were prominent in Mormon history from the faith’s earliest days. One of the vanguard companies of Mormon pioneers included three “colored servants” (slaves), and subsequent pioneer companies included both freeborn Blacks (such as Jane Manning James) and enslaved Blacks.
This documentary delves into that little-known legacy, and confronts the hard issues which surfaced in the most turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement, when the Church continued to restrict its priesthood from those of African descent (a policy put into place in 1852). The film discusses the context for that restriction, and how it was finally lifted. It also addresses the challenges of modern Black Mormon pioneers.
The DVD includes interviews with renowned scholars, theologians, historians, and sociologists, as well as many African American Mormons and descendants of Black Mormon pioneers. Prominent individuals interviewed include Pastor Cecil Murray, Dr. Armand Mauss, Dr. Newell Bringhurst, Martin Luther King III, and Darius Aidan Gray.
First released in 2009, the current DVD edition features an extended cut of the film and 100 minutes of special features.

About the Filmmakers

Filmmakers Darius Aidan Gray and Margaret Blair Young are respected as authorities on African American history in the American west. Gray and Young cooperatively authored the acclaimed trilogy Standing on the Promises and worked together to produce a short documentary on Jane Manning James.
Young has authored six encyclopedia articles and other scholarly papers on Blacks in the western United States, as well as the stage play I Am Jane. Young also headed the documentary project The Wisdom of Our Years, which featured Civil Rights–related stories of Black Utah residents. Gray has served as an LDS Church spokesman for African American issues (including the Freedman Bank genealogical project), gives frequent lectures on Black history and genealogy, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post’s “Black Voices.”

Special Features

DVD bonus materials include:
  • Bonus interviews with prominent experts on Civil Rights, Black history, and Mormonism.
  • Additional “untold stories” of present-day Black Mormons.
  • Tape recordings that capture the faith, struggles, and insights of Black Mormons throughout the 20th century.
  • Video content that comes from decades of never-seen footage.
  • And more!

7 thoughts on “DVD Release for Nobody Knows”

  1. Thank you for your site and information. I have read many Church publications, including the Documentary History of the Church, Discourses of Brigham Young, etc. I am caucasian, BTW. (And I happen to have been excommunicated for over 10 years now after having converted as an only member in my family, served a mission, etc.) I never suspected racism in the Church. I am saddened to see that racism appears to have been in existence in the past. Your research and insights are much appreciated.


  2. I watched this doc. on the documentary channel on dish. I was inspired by this story and enlightened with my own beliefs as a white mormon woman. I was impressed by the statement that if we are not judged by adams transgressions but only our own then how can we judge cains posteriety from his sins and not by the individuals. Also i was always taught that only jesus is to be the judge not man. I am thankful and have a different outlook on this issue. Im greatful that these people were able to look beond our weaknesses and persue truth despite their trial. Im sure when judgement day comes there will be some in our own faith that will have to face the savior and thankfully all things will be made right. I must say though that inspite or because of these trials they seem to have a strenght in their testimony and faith that is much stronger than some of us that have been born and raised in this faith. We have a lot to learn from them.

  3. I am a Mormon who is Black. My wife is Mormon who is White.
    If I lived in Brigham Young’s day. I could have been killed for being married to a white woman. Thomas Colman was. The ban on the Priesthood for Blacks by the Church was wrong. I do not care how you try to explain it , it was wrong. I believe the church is true, but that practice was wrong.
    People, non members and members, ask me sometimes: “How can you be a member of a church that discriminated against Blacks?” My answer is: “If I used past discriminatory policies as a reason to not join an organization, I would not be able to join anything in this country. I could not join the boy scouts. I could not work for most of the Corporations. I could not work or be a part of any government organization like congress or the Senate. I could not join the military.
    The curse of Cain as a reason to deny the priesthood to Blacks is stupid. No where in the scriptures does it say that the mark of Cain is black skin. Even though the church leaders preached this for over 100 years. This was a racist practice and their is no way around it. Let’s get real!! Even though the church now says that they do not know why the priesthood was denied to Blacks, they know and everyone knows.
    I love the church and wish I would have been converted when I was younger, but, we need to come clean on this matter and come clean now.

    These things I say in Jesus name. Amen

  4. I’ve quite enjoyed Nobody Knows, which I got to see a few years ago.

    In my home, growing up, we never questioned that black individuals were loved of God and would some day get the priesthood.

    Our only question was along the lines of “when will the miracle occur?”

    I and mine were very excited when the announcement was made that all worthy men could hold the priesthood, which also opened the doors of the temple for black families to be sealed.

    Some have looked at the priesthood ban and seen nothing but bigotry and reason to question. There have been many things to regret in how certain aspects of the past have unfolded. But We are all fallen, and need forgiveness to move ahead.

    I particularly enjoyed the moment when one black man was asked what question he had about the gospel. As I recall, his response was, “My question is: why aren’t more people members of the Church!”

  5. When “prophet” and President Gordon B. Hinkley was interviewed on the Larry King Show he was asked why it took the LDS so long to allow blacks into the priesthood ?
    ( The interview can be seen on the Internet) Hinkley replied, saying (twice) – ” I don’t know, I don’t know, it was the way that we interpreted the DOCTRINE at the time.
    President Kimble and “prophet” was supposed to have had a
    Special Revelation in 1978 which now allowed blacks into the
    priesthood but it was never published. Don’t these Mormon “prophets” ever communicate with each other ?
    Does anyone really know why blacks were banned from the priesthood ?
    What was this doctrine that Gordon B. Hincklley speaks of ?

  6. Hi Peter, the 1978 Revelation is widely published. See http://www.blacklds.org/874/race-and-the-priesthood for historical context and church statements. I would say the doctrine is that priesthood callings require approval by existing priesthood leaders holding the keys of authority. Joseph Smith approved Blacks holding the Priesthood then later Brigham Young did not and that became a practice or policy of the church. Leaders are inspired, but not perfect.

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