David O. McKay and Blacks : Building the Foundation for the 1978 Revelation
Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought
Discusses the opinion of David O. McKay regarding the ordination of blacks to the priesthood. He regarded the church's refusal to ordain blacks as policy rather than doctrine, which meant that a change in the policy was possible if so revealed by God. During his administration, President McKay made several changes to encourage the inclusion of blacks in church activities -- white male members in South Africa and Brazil could be ordained without proving that they had no black ancestors, blacks could hold leadership positions in church auxiliary organizations, and blacks were allowed limited participation in temple ordinances -- but he never received the revelation for which he hoped, authorizing blacks to hold the priesthood. The article also describes a confrontation during the last few months of McKay's life between two top church leaders -- Hugh B. Brown, who was in favor of ordaining blacks, and Harold B. Lee, who wanted to continue the restrictive policy. The policy was changed following a revelation received in 1978 by President Spencer W. Kimball.