Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Her faith soared over prejudice
Deseret News 6Jun99 C7
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor
and additional article referenced at the end of this summary.
On Saturday, June 5, l999, more than 200 admirers of Jane Elizabeth
Manning James, gathered together at the Salt Lake City Cemetery to
celebrate the life of Utah's first free black Mormon pioneer woman.
Elder David B. Haight, of the First Quorum of the Twelve of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, officiated at the ceremony that
dedicated a plaque to James' honor.
Referring to the fact that six of his ancestors enetered the Salt Lake
Valley with the same pioneer company as James, Elder Haight said, "I
think I'm claiming here today with all of you some eternal relationship
through family friendship with this wonderful woman...I'm sure Jane
would have been helping my family along because that's the way she was
constructed...We praise and honor her name."
A bronze sculptured plaque, by sculptor LeRoy Transfield, depicting
James at the door of her pioneer neighbor, Eliza Lyman, shows her
offering half of all of her food to a woman who had nothing to eat.
Lyman's hands are raised in gratitude to her cheeks for the gift. The
act was later recorded in Lyman's journal. The plaque is anchored on a
granite block next to her small headstone. Darius Gray, spokesman for
Genesis, a local group of African American Mormons and their friends who
organized and supported the commission of the monument, said another
plaque will give details about James' life and will be added opposite
James' gift was most extraordinary for many reasons, but most
importantly because James was both poor and black in an overwhelming
white society that had experienced much persecution. Elder Alexander
Morrison, president of the Utah North Area of the Church said, "She
lived in a time of great prejudice toward African Americans." "All of
us know how hard life must have been for a single African American woman
in the l9th Century....There still remains much more to be done before
the dream of equal rights for all is fully realized. Perhaps her quiet
example of persistence will help us all better understand that God hath
made us all of one blood."
"When all women and men everywhere understand that all are alike unto
God, then and only then will the abhorrent sin of racism be banished
from the earth. I'm longing for that day and I'm sure Jane is longing
for it as well," said Morrison.
Henry Wolfinger, an archivist for the National Archives in Washington
has studied James' life for 25 years. He was glad to see her finally
honored for her contribution and to "ensure that the issue (of race)
remains high on the LDS agenda."
Morrison summed it up best when he said, "It is easy to give when you
have plenty." "But the real test of charity is a willingness to give
when you have little and your own children cry for food." "Through all
her sorrows, her faith in Christ and His atonement remained strong." Of
her children, James said, "They now know Jesus and His love."
Early LDS African American Honored for Life of Self-Sacrifice
Salt Lake Tribune 6Jun99 C7
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune