David O. McKay and Blacks: Building the Foundation for the 1978 Revelation Shortly after David O. McKay became church president in 1951 he traveled to South Africa, the first church president to visit that country. While there, he made an important and impromptu change in the church policy regarding ordination of blacks. While not reversing that policy, he significantly changed the procedure for determining whether South Africans had lineage that disqualified them from priesthood ordination. Several years later, in the face of attempts by the church to establish a foothold in Nigeria, he and his counselors gave serious consideration to the possibility of reversing the exclusionary policy. The subject rose again in the context of the American Civil Rights Movement in the mid-and-late 1960’s, and appeared headed for resolution in 1969, although this was due to misinterpretation of President McKay’s intent. A flurry of activity by important General Authorities in the final months of President McKay’s life served first to raise, then to dash the hopes of those who sought a reversal of the policy.
Gregory A. Prince