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Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Jessie Streater, an African American mother of three, converted to Mormonism in 1979, just one year after the church relaxed its ban on African Americans holding the priesthood, a position in the church that conveys certain privileges and responsibilities. Streater had been a seeker, visiting churches of various denominations before finding Mormonism, a religion that offered her the religious community that she desired despite its relatively recent embrace of full membership for African American men. In this interview, Streater shares some observations about the growing African American population in the church, as well some descriptions of Mormon practices and church organization. African Americans' greatest disadvantage is their relatively small number within the church, meaning that they often have to look outside Mormonism to find spouses. But overall, Streater has found only spiritual succor, and not discrimination, in her more than two decades with the church. Interviewers interested in race and religion, as well as some of the details of Mormon belief and practice, will find this interview useful.
  • Forming a parenting strategy in opposition to that of her parents
  • Seeking religion and finding Mormonism
  • African-American Mormon unbothered by past prohibition of priesthood for African Americans
  • Friends and family do not oppose conversion to Mormonism
  • Reliance on prayer in daily life
  • Mormon prohibition against tobacco and strong drink
  • African American Mormons often must find spouses outside the faith
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  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.