Among them were Jane Manning James, who walked 800 miles to join Mormon founder Joseph Smith in the Midwest and later joined the Mormon migration to Utah, and Elijah Abel, a Maryland man who is believed to be the first African-American whom Smith ordained.
"These stories give black members of the church roots," said Nathleen Jackson-Albright, 64, who compiled the stories. "They went through a heck of a lot, so we should be able to hold on."
The stories of these two LDS members is like a double edged sword. They were loyal and devout but were also treated rather shabbily compared to how they would have been treated if they were white. Can you imagine submitting a request to be sealed as a wife to a deceased Elder and have that request vetoed and instead find yourself sealed as a "servant" to the current Church President at the time of the sealing.
The other potential stumbling block is to have black members run across message boards where members are defending the past Priesthood ban.
Cragun, a former Mormon who said he lost faith in the church, said the revelation that paved the way for the ordination of black men was likely inspired more by demographic realities around the world than by the voice of God.
He called the Book of Mormon racist, citing passages such as 1st Nephi 12:23: "And it came to pass that I beheld ... a dark and loathsome and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abomination."
In the Book of Mormon, several Nephite prophets attribute the darkness of the Lamanites to a curse, placed on Laman and Lemuel, that was passed on to the rest of the tribe.
Nibley's defense was to engage in word games. Maybe it wasn't their skin that was "dark and loathsome" but their souls.
I think you'll get more mileage by taking the novel approach of saying that the Book of Mormon was written by racists. Blame it on the Nephites. As these two groups lived separately, they evolved differently. If the Nephites were up in the mountains and the Lamanites were down in the valleys, maybe one group got a little more sun. Maybe it evolved differently. Then again, maybe the Lamanites mixed with various Asian groups coming in.
Whatever the case, Nephites ended up lily white while the Lamanites ended up dark. Or maybe the difference was much more subtle - like that between the Hutus and Tutsis. Make no mistake about it though, if you belonged to a group targeted for genocide, you'd have a very low opinion of the group targeting you. Nothing says these people have to be perfect.