This, the fact that for much of the Mormon history, Blacks have been considered in less than favorable terms, is the 900-pound gorilla in the room. Have doubts? All you have to do is type “mormon black people” in a Google search to find over 17 million results. Here are some examples:
Early Mormonism had a range of policies and doctrines relating to race in regard to black people of African descent. (Wikipedia)
FOR NEARLY 140 YEARS, Mormonism (the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”) has taught that the black people are “inferior” (saintsalive.com)
There are other examples. For the 2012 Presidential Race, the mainstream media, or what’s left of it, has not asked Romney about this. But in December of 2007, Tim Russert asked Mitt Romney about the Mormom / Black issue. The video is below (I did not make it); here’s what Mitt said:
Note that Romney did not directly answer Russert’s question if he rejected the Mormon history of discrimination against blacks. Romney also said his father marched with Martin Luther King. That’s actually not true as there’s no record of it. Mitt said then that his father marched with Romney in the Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit. But Alternet – on December 20, 2012, said there’s no record of such march in that town.
Moreover, in the Russert interview, Romney talked more about his father, George Romney, than himself in the context of the Mormon – Black issue. And he worked to move away from talking about just Blacks – in fact he mentioned people in general more, indicating that he does have a problem. Moreover, at the end of the segment, we can see Romney becoming agitated with the questions.
But, the the blog More Perfect notes, the fact remains that Romney has two points of fact he must deal with:
The official policy of the LDS Church is that the racist practice was commanded by God, and not a result of racism among its leadership.
The Church has never apologized for the practice nor specifically repudiated racist teachings by LDS prophets.
My view is that Romney doesn’t have to repudiate Mormonism, because to do so says that all the Mormon Church is concerned with is racism. That means Mitt can, if he elects to do so, openly say that it’s a new day and the Church was wrong in this area. But the more important action is that, regardless of what he says, Mitt Romney gives a speech that is about this issue, and it alone. Nothing else.