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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

African American Mormons often must find spouses outside the faith

It is difficult for young African-American Mormons to find other Mormons to marry, Streater explains, simply because there are relatively few of them. Instead, most African Americans marry outside the church and work to convert their spouse.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. 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

Okay, wanted to know also are there a lot of mixed couples? Have you ever, do you see a lot of mixed couples in your ward like African Americans married to—
JESSIE STREATER:
African American and white.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right.
JESSIE STREATER:
I only knew one African American married to a white and one I think she's Asian or Korean or something married to a white.
BARBARA COPELAND:
But primarily African Americans are able to find other African Americans in the Mormon church.
JESSIE STREATER:
Um hmm.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Do you think it's pretty easy or is it a long, do you see people waiting a long period of time to find like one African American to find another potential African American mate within the Mormon church?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, nowadays they don't care. They don't care whether he comes from the Mormon church or where. So it's kind of hard to say that they are looking, seeking for a Mormon mate. I think now they're just seeking for a mate. Wherever he may be usually they convert him.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh okay. From what your experience is a lot of the Mormon singles are marrying outside of their faith and are managing to—
JESSIE STREATER:
Convert them.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Convert them.
JESSIE STREATER:
Now one of my daughters met a Mormon potential, but he was so far away. So that was Florida. That's quite a distance to say that we are talking.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That distance relationship it's hard. Especially if they're from another religious faith. Would you say that, I guess then what you are saying then is that a lot of the Latter-day Saints that are single are not having a lot of success finding people of their same faith, other single Mormons within the church. So they're just looking outside and settling for people who are not their faith and then converting them. Wanted to know how does the bishop or church leaders feel about that. Do they frown on that or do they talk about it much? What kind of counsel do they give for that?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I really, I really don't know about that. I feel myself that you can't tell the young people anything. They're going to do what they want to do. But it's hard for the African American to find an African American because there's not that many in the church. So there's no other choice but to look outside and hope and pray that you have one that you can convert to what you believe in. But in order to do that you have to have communication from the start. So if with me I tell my children if you can't communicate with this person you're considering to be your mate, then there's no reason for you two to be together from the start. Whether it's religion or what it is because communication takes priority over everything other than trying to say, prioritize over the Heavenly Father. Communication is the most important thing. If you feel that this is going to be a problem and you know that you're strong in your religion and this is going to be a problem and he's not going to convert, then I sort of advise you not to be involved with this person because if you're strong enough in your faith there's nothing that's going to turn you away from it. In order to keep down confusion it's best you continue to look until you find somebody is willing to be what you want them to be.