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‘We strive to build bridges’: President Russell M. Nelson addresses NAACP convention in historic speech

Religion

DETROIT (ABC4 News) – It was a historic night Sunday when President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at the 110th annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

President Nelson told the crowd about meeting NAACP President Leon Russell last year in Salt Lake City.

NAACP Historian Dr. Amos Brown drew parallels between the persecution of Latter-day Saints and that of African-Americans in his introduction of President Nelson.

“Let us welcome now President Russell Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President of the First Presidency,” Dr. Brown told the crowd. “Who will widen the circle and take us all in with a united front marching on to a better day in religious activity in the United States of America.”

“At a press conference following that meeting, I explained that a fundamental doctrine and heartfelt conviction of our religion is that all people are God’s children,” he said. “We truly believe that we are brothers and sisters-all part of the same divine family…Simply stated, we strive to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation.
We are all connected, and we have a God-given responsibility to help make life better for those around us. We don’t have to be alike or look-alike to have love for each other. We don’t even have to agree with each other to love each other.”

President Nelson spoke of slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers who was murdered in Mississippi 56 years ago.


“In 1963, after Medgar Evers’s death, mourners eulogized him with these words from 1 John 4:20: ‘If a man boasts of loving God, while he hates his own brother, he is a liar. He has seen his brother, and has no love for him; what love can he have for the God he has never seen?’ ” he said. “Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can. This world will never be the same. My dear friends, I thank you may god bless you one and all.”

President Nelson spoke of his friendship with the longtime pastor of Salt Lake City’s Calvary Mission Baptist Church Dr. France Davis who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.

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