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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Edwards, January 20, 2002. Interview R-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Faith trumps race for ideal marriage

Edwards describes the centrality of family to the Mormon church and explains that she would one day like to re-marry so that she could more fully participate in the various family-oriented church programs and doctrines. When asked whether or not she preferred for any potential suitors to be African American, Edwards argues that although finding an African American Mormon man to marry would be most ideal, faith trumped race for her. In this regard, her comments here are especially indicative of intersections between race and religious faith for the Mormon Church in the South.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Edwards, January 20, 2002. Interview R-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What do you think probably is the importance of family nights on Mondays? What is it that you think the bishop or the presidency sees that why that is so important and that no one should be exempt from it?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Because really because they I believe that's what God wants us to do. The Heavenly Father wants us because the family is very important to Heavenly Father.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
That's the other reason why I love being a member of the church because of the family. They're very, very family oriented. I love that.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Had you ever thought about wanting to remarry or seek another husband?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Yeah. I am one day. One day I am hopefully. Hopefully I do. I don't—
BARBARA COPELAND:
So what would some of your criteria be for an ideal mate for you?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Well, he has to go the same church I go to. I don't want to marry somebody that's in another church. Financially able to that we both can be able to prosper financially, and looks, I'm not into looks the physical as long as he's a good provider physically and spiritually.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right. Exactly. The reason why I asked that is because normally well there's two different—. Some people look at it and come at that question two different ways.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
The physical.
BARBARA COPELAND:
No. Some African American women who are in the Mormon church I'm a lot of times I'm wondering are they joining the Mormon church in order to just find an African, an ideal African American, marriageable African American mate. Some have said that well, yes I've gotten tired of relying on African American men of other traditions because they really don't live a holy life aside from Sundays. After Sundays then they're back.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Most Baptists do.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Yeah. So in talking with some they have said well I like the Mormon church, and I've joined the Mormon church hoping that I can find an eligible, marriageable African American man. Now the other flip side to that is that I've interviewed some African American women who are in the Mormon church. They feel discouraged that they're not going to meet another African American Mormon marriageable man to meet, to marry, so they have said that they would be willing to marry outside of their race as long—
MARGARET EDWARDS:
I am.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh okay.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
I'm willing to marry outside of my race too. As long as the person makes me happy.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right. Well for some women they said that race is very important to them. That they're willing, even though they're Mormons they're willing to marry outside of their faith to find an African American man and some have said to me that no, they're faith is more important and they have to make sure that the person is Mormon like they are.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
That's the way I would love to have it, but I couldn't if I had to marry outside my religion, I would. I would prefer—
BARBARA COPELAND:
You would prefer that they be Mormon.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Right.