News Release

On Juneteenth, How the NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ Are Carrying Out a Prophet’s Vision of Caring

The Church announces more help for mothers and babies in Memphis

Two years ago, leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered on Temple Square to announce educational and humanitarian initiatives to benefit the Black community.

Church President and Prophet Russell M. Nelson explained at the time that the two organizations would “bring relief to suffering souls in underprivileged areas of the United States” and “teach important principles of self-reliance.”

Much has happened since then to accomplish these goals. To promote education, the Church has given $2 million to fund 116 scholarships via the United Negro College Fund. All but eight of the awardees have attended historically Black colleges and universities. Forty-three students took part last summer in the Rev. Amos C. Brown Student Fellowship to Ghana. The fellowship allowed American students of various backgrounds to experience Ghanaian culture, learn about their ancestral heritage and become ambassadors of racial harmony.

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Meanwhile, humanitarian assistance is helping people lead healthier lives. At a community garden in San Francisco last October, NAACP and Latter-day Saint volunteers installed a new water-wise irrigation system. The garden provides more than 100 families in a food desert with access to fresh food. To combat asthma, trees are being planted in 10 historically Black neighborhoods across the country. And to support babies and mothers in Memphis, the MyBaby4Me program implemented last November is helping reduce infant mortality. The city’s 38126 ZIP code has one of the United States’ highest infant mortality rates.

Other projects not connected with the NAACP but consistent with the spirit of Juneteenth are progressing around the country. One of these is the Church’s rehabilitation of the Ella J. Baker House (which helps youth experiencing homelessness and curbs gang violence) in Boston. Another is the opening later this month of the Center for Family History at the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina.

At the Memphis Branch of the NAACP on the morning of Juneteenth 2023 (Monday, June 19), the Church of Jesus Christ and the NAACP announced efforts to ensure the longevity of MyBaby4Me.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is giving $500,000 to help renovate the Memphis Branch of the NAACP. This renovation will create an inviting community gathering spot for MyBaby4Me meetings and other NAACP and community functions. Workers will also install a commercial kitchen to feed the women and children participating in the program.

“Latter-day Saints believe every life is a sacred gift from God,” said Elder Matthew S. Holland of the Seventy, who also serves in the Church’s North America Southeast Area Presidency. “The first baby within the MyBaby4Me program was born just a few weeks ago. We’re so grateful to hear that the mother and baby are healthy. They are only the start of what we pray is a bright future for all families who participate in this program. As latter-day scripture says, great things have small beginnings.”

“This kindness from the Church of Jesus Christ symbolizes a shared commitment to create a more equitable society,” said Vickie Terry, executive director of the NAACP Memphis Branch. “I thank the Church for helping us create a welcoming space for women and others in the community.”

The NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ first came together in May 2018 to, in President Nelson’s words, call on the entire world to “demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect.”

A year later, President Nelson told the NAACP national convention in Detroit that “we strive to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation. We are all connected, and we have a God-given responsibility to help make life better for those around us. We don’t have to be alike or look alike to have love for each other. We don’t even have to agree with each other to love each other.

“If we have any hope of reclaiming the goodwill and sense of humanity for which we yearn,” the prophet added, “it must begin with each of us, one person at a time.”

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