Gray’s lecture for BYU TMA students addressed the topics of racial bias and systemic racism
The Department of Theatre and Media Arts hosted Darius Gray on November 12 as part of its BIPOC lecture series for students.
Gray was a member of the original first presidency of the Genesis group of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has been a member of the Church since he was baptized in 1964.
During the lecture, Gray told the story of his baptism. The day before he was to be baptized, his missionaries informed him that he would be unable to hold the priesthood. He said he fully intended to not show up to his baptism the next day. After a heartfelt prayer that night he felt the assurance from the Lord that this was the restored church and that he should be baptized.
Since then, Gray has faced racism in and out of the Church. He spoke of his time at BYU, when he was one of two African American students on the entire campus. He recalled that he was able to learn a lot, but the biases towards him were sometimes too great to bear.
“It was interesting. It was a good time because you found that there were good people and not-so-good people,” Gray said in the lecture.
Gray encouraged students to recognize the biases that they hold and to look for ways to be unified across cultures. He said the current political division in the country and especially among members of the Church is greater than he’s ever seen.
“Systemic racism. It’s like a cancer that has spread,” Gray said. “We’ve come a long way, but we have so much more work to do. And we’re losing people, Black and white and brown, because of the negative attitudes that are out there.”
Gray ended his remarks by inviting students to look for ways to reach out to people of all ethnic backgrounds. He reminded students that everyone is a child of God and that even though the Church’s history isn’t perfect, we need to keep moving toward a better future.