Building bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation: Church leaders, NAACP announce new initiatives

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Together, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced three new initiatives meant to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.

Monday, leaders of the Church and NAACP said they want to make a difference in the United States.

“It is late in the evening, in these United States of America. Our democratic republic is under seize,” said Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, an NAACP leader.

“In this environment where people seek to create otherness, tribalism, that we can stand here today, as a beacon of light. Two communities where people can say, ‘I see the Christ in them,'” said Derrick Johnson, the president/chair of the NAACP.

“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,” said Latter-day Saint Church President Russell M. Nelson.

The Church will donate nearly $10 million, Nelson said, to education and humanitarian initiatives.

“Leaders of the Church have found common ground with the NAACP as we have discussed challenges that beset some of God’s children,” Nelson said. “We have considered specific things we might do to alleviate problems and improve the future of some who are currently in distress.”

Both organizations believe and teach their members to love God and their neighbors, and said these initiatives are one way they can act on their beliefs.

“We know our limitations – the challenges our huge – and our capacities are limited. But together, we want to make a difference, even though our efforts may seem relatively small,” Nelson said.

The first donation will go to helping young, Black students in the United States, gain a college education; Nelson said a $1 million scholarship donation will be given every year, for three years.

“Education is the forefront for people to advance in whatever they want to do in life,” said Jeanetta Williams, the President of the NAACP’s Salt Lake branch.

Williams continued to say scholarship opportunities will be given to students across America, including some in Utah.

In the Church’s second pledge, Nelson said they will donate $250,000 in a one-time financial backing for an Amos C. Brown Student Fellowship, to send up to 50 students to Ghana, to learn about their heritage.

“And begin to instill upon young people the importance of who they are,” Johnson said.

“But not to become bitter over it, but to become agents of betterment and how they ended up here, and their role in furthering a more inclusive society,” Brown said.

Another three-year donation will encourage service and help those in need, in six of America’s major metropolitan communities. Nelson said the Church will contribute $2 million to this effort.

“We will help to teach important principles of self-reliance,” Nelson said.

Leaders said these three initiatives will benefit thousands of people across America.

The Church and NAACP began working together in 2018, making a plea for greater civility and racial harmony around the world. That plea was reiterated by leaders on Monday.

“We are the Church, we are the NAACP, we are God’s people. This announcement today can allow us to proudly stand together from various backgrounds, from various communities, from across the country, so others can really say, ‘I see the Christ in them,’” Johnson said.

You can watch the full announcement below:

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