Dedication Address for Church’s Black Pioneer Monument

Brother Mauli Junior Bonner - Monument Coordinator

Monument Dedication Address. July 22nd 2022. This Is the Place Heritage Park, Salt Lake City, Utah

“It’s more beautiful than I could have imagined- not just the statues but you all being here today. It’s beautiful.”

…We don’t tell these stories of African enslavement to cause guilt or pain or shame. We tell the stories because they’re true. … Because we all have the opportunity to draw strength from them. Can we not draw strength from them? 

…This monument tells part of our story… to remember those 10 years of enslavement. It’s a hard part of our history… We have to learn it and never forget it and then what do we do with that knowledge? We teach our children. We allow them to come up in a world where they’re not gonna to be blindsided by history. They’ll be able to be taught it at a young age so that we can truly be the inclusive community that we want to be.

…For all those who do have a hard time finding people who look like them in community leadership, in pictures, in art, in monuments, you still belong. You belong here. You belong here. How you live your life, the legacy you live is their legacy. You are their living legacy. Be who you want to see…”

“…We have a journey from where we came from but if we don’t know where we came from how will we know how far we’ve come?

…Lean on your Bishops on your pastors on your stake presidents. Allow them to be who they are meant to be.

…The spirit of [President Ballard] is so strong I’m so glad that you are here today. Elder Christofferson I needed you here. Thank you.

…I see some faces and I’m just like My Bishop is here? My Bishop? That’s my Bishop, guys! From Los Angelos! That means something to me… Can we carry one another brothers and sisters? There are so many people that if it weren’t for them… I would have fallen. I would have fallen. But I was leaning on so many… I lean, I lay, I lay on you and I’m grateful that you carry my weight and stand me up and push me forward. Can we do that for one another please? Can we do that for one another brothers and sisters? This is your community and we will continue to tell stories of love and inclusion. 

…We should know this, that in this monument we will not be divided; and in this moment we will stay together; and in this monument, at this place, we are who we hope to be. Distance from these stories is not a remedy. We must journey through the hard parts together. To our Black pioneer ancestors, we bring our peace, our reverence, our joy, our empathy, our shouts of celebration, our love and our unity to this monument. As we look around this park and we see many who settled in this territory, we can now include our free and enslaved Black pioneers. This first group of pioneers in 1847 will never be forgotten. Their memory will live on for generations here at This Is The Place Heritage Park.”   

Courtesy of McKell Park and the Daily Universe