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First Black woman speaks during Latter-day Saint general conference

Faith

SALT LAKE CITY (KSL.com) — Tracy Y. Browning made history Saturday when she became the first Black woman to speak during a general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I am a daughter of God, one of his Black daughters, and because I’m Black, I’ve had very specific cultural experiences that influence my perspective, my leadership and my faith,” Sister Browning, the second counselor of the Primary general presidency, said in a church press release.

“I’ve learned that as I join the notes and chords of my particular life experiences with the other members of the church, who bring their own unique compositions, we create harmony,” she continued. “We harmonize because we’re focused in the same direction. There will always be a richness to our harmony because we aren’t all singing the same note. But we are all singing songs of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He needs all his children to join his choir and lift our voices in unity.”

Browning became the first Black woman to serve in a general presidency in April. The church did not allow Black members to fully participate in the church until 1978. Prior to that year, men of African descent were unable to hold the priesthood and men and women of African descent could not participate in temple ordinances.

Sister Browning spoke about seeing more of Jesus Christ in our lives using a metaphor of her dependence on glasses to illustrate how dependence on Christ can help individuals improve their spiritual vision.

“To help us to remain fixed and heading in the right direction, the Savior invites us to see our lives through him, in order to see more of him in our lives,” Sister Browning said.

She was born in New York but lived in Jamaica until she was 11. She was introduced to the church through her mother during her teens. After seeing a late-night infomercial advertising the Book of Mormon, Sister Browning’s mother ordered a free copy of the book and began talking with missionaries, according to a statement from the church.

Browning, who was about 15 at the time, lived with her father in New Jersey but she visited her mother in New York often. She soon began attending Latter-day Saint worship services with her mother.

After attending the Hill Cumorah Pageant with her mother, Sister Browning decided she was ready to learn more and was baptized within a year.

She worked for 15 years in financial services before becoming a church employee. She is now a director in the church’s publishing services department. She and her husband have two children.

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