Ontario Black History Society Focuses on Family

Ontario Black History Society Focuses on Family

News Story

“Family is there to make you feel loved,” said keynote speaker Dr. Beverly-Jean Daniel during the Black History Month kick-off brunch hosted by the Ontario Black History Society. “It’s All About Our Youth” was the theme chosen to celebrate the society’s 40th anniversary.

At the event, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided a display highlighting FamilySearch.org and DiscoverFreedmen.org. Together, these two websites provide a vast database of over one billion names, including those of nearly 1.8 million men, women and children emancipated following the American Civil War. These websites assist families in discovering their roots and connecting with their history.

Dr. Beverly-Jean Daniel, who holds a PhD in sociology and equity studies from the University of Toronto, was the keynote speaker and recipient of the Daniel G. Hill Award for Community Service. Drawing on her career experiences to help youth succeed, she remarked: “The first thing that comes to mind when I think about family is the notion of safety. We need to create spaces for our youth to come home to. We need to ensure that they get a sense of belonging, home and hope. … Family is there to make you feel loved. Even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, we have to remember that there is a brilliant, God-given light in every single one of our children.”

Natasha Henry, president of the Ontario Black History Society, stated: “Our youth are a magnificent source of insight and possess a tremendous amount of talent and courage. All adult stakeholders must be earnestly committed to the removal of systemic barriers and to creating and transforming spaces that will nurture their well-being and allow them to thrive and reach their full potential.”

This message resonates with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which places great emphasis on the family. The Church’s “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” published in September 1995, states: “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

Black History Month is a time to remember and celebrate the importance of black history. It also reminds us that barriers still exist for our black brothers and sisters to succeed in society. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the universal human family. Latter-day Saint scripture and teachings affirm that God loves all of His children and makes salvation available to all. God created the many diverse races and ethnicities and esteems them all equally. As stated in the Book of Mormon, “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).

The structure and organization of the Church encourage racial integration. Church members of different races and ethnicities regularly minister in one another’s homes and serve alongside one another as teachers, as youth leaders and in myriad other assignments in their local congregations. (See “Race and the Priesthood.”)

President Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church from 1995 to 2008, declared in a Churchwide annual conference in 2006: “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ” (“The Need for Greater Kindness,” Apr. 2006 general conference).

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