In commemoration of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, posted a message on social media Monday, Jan. 17, asking all to “labor together to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice.”
President Nelson wrote about his treasured friendship with the Rev. Amos C. Brown, pastor of San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church, a member of the board of directors of the NAACP and a former student of the Rev. King. “Though I come from a different background, a different family and a different race, he affectionately refers to me as his ‘brother from another mother,’” wrote President Nelson.
“Today, we commemorate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As one of the eight students in the only class taught by Dr. King in his lifetime at Morehouse College, Amos Brown had a front-row seat to history and was shaped as he looked at the events of the civil rights movement through the lens of faith.”
President Nelson noted that he and the Rev. Brown have enjoyed several opportunities to give speeches together, to collaborate on projects together and to even write an opinion piece together for the Tampa Bay (Florida) Times. “Our joint efforts have shown that we have far more in common than issues that, at first glance, might appear to divide us,” they wrote in the article. “Both of our organizations have learned lessons from the past. Both of us have been willing to listen to and learn from each other. Respect and cooperation have yielded the sweet fruit of reconciliation, admiration, service and genuine love.
“Solutions will come as we open our hearts to those whose lives are different than our own, as we work to build bonds of genuine friendship, and as we see each other as the brothers and sisters we are — for we are all children of a loving God.”
President Nelson said he likes to think that “my friend Amos and I are, in a very small way, the embodiment of Dr. King’s vision that people from different backgrounds and races can ‘sit down together at the table of brotherhood.’”
The Church has a five-year history with the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization. In 2017, local Latter-day Saints helped refurbish the NAACP offices in Jackson, Mississippi. The next year, in May 2018, the First Presidency and NAACP leaders released a joint statement calling for greater civility and racial harmony. Two months later, the Church announced a historic collaboration between the two organizations and launched a self-reliance initiative. The NAACP and BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School have also worked together on joint projects.
President Russell M. Nelson spoke at the 110th NAACP annual convention in July 2019. “Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can,” he said. And on June 14, 2021, the First Presidency and the leaders of the NAACP announced education and humanitarian initiatives.