Title: Oral History Interview with Adetola Hassan, December 16, 2001. Interview R-0160.
Interviewer: Copeland, Barbara
Interviewee: Hassan, Adetola
Abstract: Adetola Hassan is a British citizen of Nigerian descent who grew up in Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria during the 1980s and early 1990s. She moved to the United States during the mid-1990s to live with her uncle in Missouri, and at the time of the interview in 2001 was a seventeen-year-old freshman at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Hassan begins the interview with a discussion of her family's conversion to Mormonism and their practice of that faith in Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. Although she focuses on some of the obstacles her family faced in practicing Mormonism in those countries, she argues that it was not until she attended a Presbyterian school in Missouri that she "experienced intense hatred of the church." She was ultimately forced to leave the school because she refused to renounce her belief in Mormonism. Hassan's recollections are revealing of some of the tensions between the Mormon Church and other Christian denominations in the South. Hassan also spends considerable time offering her thoughts on various practices within the Mormon Church, including the temple recommend and baptism of the dead. Additionally, she explains what it was like to be a young woman in the Mormon Church. In so doing, she focuses on her participation in church groups; the centrality of family to the Mormon Church; expectations of dating and double standards for young men and young women in romantic relationships; and her belief that gender hierarchies in the church would neither inhibit her independence nor prevent her from pursuing both a career and a family. Hassan also addresses the matter of race in the predominantly white Mormon Church: she describes her own experience as a young black woman, and she discusses the Mormon ban on black men entering the priesthood prior to 1978. She also explains the precedence of faith over race when choosing a marriage partner. Throughout the interview, Hassan's comments are revealing of the growing role of the Mormon Church in the American South at the end of the twentieth century.