Ezra Taft Benson, June 30, 1940

-- June 30, 1940
The Church called him as the first president of the Washington, D.C., stake. (1)

-- Jun 23, 1942
Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us tat you have in the Capitol Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.

The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [sic] be permitted to attend the joint meeting. However, it appears that the sisters did attend, presumably because the President of the capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the bishop of the other ward.

We can appreciate that the situation may preset a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.

From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuse to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.

It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they can not sit with them or near them, we feel very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, hey would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so a not to hurt the feelings on the part of any one.

Of course, probably each one of the sisters who ca afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them. (2)

-- May 3, 1943
"Received second letter from Pres. J. Reuben Clark requesting I let him know when my wife and I plan to be in Salt Lake. I fear we will not be there together until after the war [i.e., World War II] altho a field trip I am planning for about July 1 may take me thru Salt Lake." (3)

-- July 16 1943
"I had a most pleasant conference with Pres. David O. McKay [second counselor] about various stake matters but particularly about conditions in Wash., D.C., ... It was a pleasure to be in his sweet inspiring presence. He is truly a great man. How I wish we had a man at the head of this great country of his stature and character. I am looking forward to dinner with Pres. McKay and family on July 26th at their home on my way east." (3)

1 - Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Ezra Taft Benson," Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992
2 - First Presidency, Letter to Ezra Taft Benson, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1910-1951, Privately Published, Salt Lake City, Utah 2010
3 - Ezra Taft Benson diary as quoted in Gary James Bergera, '"This Great Thing Which Has Come to Me a Humble, Weak Farmer Boy": Ezra Taft Benson's 1943 Call to the Apostleship', Mormon Historical Studies (Fall 2008, v.9)

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson