Debut of “Nobody Knows” A Success

By January 19, 2008

I unfortunately dropped the ball and missed the debut of “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” today at the Utah Film Festival (I thought it was yesterday). However, I did email Margaret Young to ask how it was received, and she responded that “We got a prolonged standing ovation. It was extremely gratifying.” Now I wish that I had been there even more. The documentary next heads to the San Diego Black Film Festival. I agree with Margaret that “It’ll be interesting to see how an African American, non-LDS crowd responds.”

Margaret also indicated that they do plan to show the film one or two more times in Utah, but no dates are set. I’ll be sure not to miss the next one. I believe that this is an important project, and I therefore encourage all JI readers to donate something to support the film. I’m a poor graduate student, and if I can donate, anyone can. 

Article filed under Miscellaneous



    You know what we could really use? We could use audience members at our upcoming screenings in San Diego and Dallas. Our screening time/date in San Diego is yet to be confirmed ( ), but we are scheduled to screen in Dallas (Texas Black Film Festival) on Friday Feb. 1 at 2:00 p.m..

    Darius and I–with two descendants of Jane Manning James–will be at the San Diego festival (Feb. 1-3). Tamu Smith will represent us in Dallas. Please contact friends in either of these places and tell them to spread the word.
    Feel free to contact me at

    Thanks again, David, for helping us get the word out.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 19, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  2. Paul Gill: “The Good Lord stomps on me and says, ‘Paul, everything’s cool.'”

    I tear up every time I watch the trailer, and I wish SO badly I could attend the screenings.

    Margaret, please tell Darius once again how much I admire him and his work with the Genesis group. I will see Bro. White (Cincinnati) soon, and I know he would ask me to say the same thing to Darius. What all of you have done to make this movie is an incredibly important work – one that needs so badly to be told, as much (if not more) to our own membership as to those not of our faith.

    God Bless You for this effort.

    Comment by Ray — January 19, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

  3. You’re welcome, Margaret. I really want to see this documentary succeed, so any little bit I can do, I’ll do it. My co-blogger Christopher is from Dallas, so I suspect that he can drum up some support there.

    Comment by David Grua — January 19, 2008 @ 11:19 pm

  4. GREAT!!
    Here’s the website for our screening:

    I didn’t write the blurb. The folks at the TBFF got our DVD from the AFI Dallas International FF, which sponsors them. Somebody told them they needed to see this. The person I’ve spoken to is David Little, an attorney whose firm sponsors the festival. So the word “amazing” is his, not mine. (I don’t usually call my own stuff “amazing.”)

    Can you help, Christopher?

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 19, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

  5. I wasn’t aware that the debut was today, otherwise I would have definetely attended.

    Margaret, I echo David’s sentiments that this is an extremely important project, and will do whatever I can to help. I haven’t lived in Dallas for 7 years now, but I have family down there, and will spread the word. Congratulations again on the great initial reviews.

    Comment by Christopher — January 20, 2008 @ 12:00 am

  6. Margaret, any chance of a screening in Cincinnati – perhaps as a joint effort with the Freedom Center? I know Darius has connections there, but I know some people with whom you could speak. I know the Stake Presidents in this area would support it 100%, and I would be happy to hook you up with them.

    Comment by Ray — January 20, 2008 @ 12:29 am

  7. Ray–great idea. Honestly, it’s all going to depend on money. We have FINISHED the film (that means everything–including sound mastering and color correction) and have enough to get to several film festivals to publicize and connect with marketers. We’ll have to see where we are in a month or so and look at Cincinnati as a place to go. It’s an important place in Black Mormon history–the place where Elijah Abel lived after leaving Nauvoo (and where I personally think he helped with the Underground Railroad), and the place where the Len and Mary Hope family lived. (Sadly, there were not permitted to attend church with the white members there, so the missionaries came to their house monthly to give them the sacrament. These missionaries included Elder Marion Duff Hanks.)

    The best scenario would be to win some large cash prize in a festival, which would then fund more travel. We do plan on doing something rather spectacular for the 30th anniversary of the priesthood revelation–this coming June. But that’ll be in Utah.

    (Oh, I should mention that we haven’t yet done special features, and we will be doing those before we sell the DVD. I would love to see us on a Public television station BEFORE we sell DVDs.)

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 20, 2008 @ 10:42 am

  8. We thought we were going to have to screen at the SDBFF at the awful time of 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31st, but when I expressed concern, they were very responsive. Their note to me says:

    OK, we’ll move your screening to Friday evening or Saturday afternoon.
    We’ll post your new date and time by Friday of this week.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 20, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  9. I thought you weren’t going to make the Utah festival due to sound mastering; I’m so glad to hear the film itself is finished. Congratulations! I’m sure we’re all anxious to see it, in whatever venue or medium we can manage.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — January 20, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

  10. Margaret,

    That’s great that they were so accommodating. Hopefully it’ll help fill the seats.

    Comment by David Grua — January 20, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  11. Kevin–the first attempt at sound mastering didn’t quite make the grade. I thought we’d have to use the old audio. But the technicians, bless them, got up early Friday morning and worked all day to re-master. I got the hot little DVD in my hands two hours before we screened in Orem. I can’t wait for you to see it.

    Could you e-mail me privately and remind me of where you live? I’ll see if we’ve submitted to a festival near you.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 20, 2008 @ 11:29 pm

  12. Margaret, Congratulations on finishing it. I can’t wait to see it. I’m praying for your success. Please tell Darius I’m praying for him and the film. God bless.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — January 20, 2008 @ 11:38 pm

  13. This is very interesting, I have a lot of family and friends in San Diego so I’ll be passing along the information.

    I’m curious, does this film bring up Eldridge Cleaver in any way shape or form? I recently blogged about Mr. Cleaver and how few members know about his membership or history with the church.

    Comment by salt h2o — January 20, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

  14. Marvin C. Perkins (Co-Chair Genesis Public Affairs) gave a fireside (not directly related to the film) tonight down here in Glendora, California. Not knowing when the film was being shown I asked and he mentioned the festival in San Diego. Hopefully some individuals from the fireside will attend. Either way, perhaps I can try and get some people in the Claremont community interested in attending.

    Comment by Jordan Watkins — January 21, 2008 @ 1:17 am

  15. It really was a great movie, I took a roommate of mine here at BYU and we both loved it. Thanks Margaret and Darius!

    Comment by austin s — January 21, 2008 @ 2:51 am

  16. #13: Special features will include an interview with Newell Bringhurst on Eldridge Cleaver. Cleaver is an interesting figure, but not really that significant to LDS history. He joined the Church, even gave a forum at BYU (which I heard), but was inactive at the time of his death. His funeral was held in a Methodist church. Nonetheless, we will mention him. Many things will be included in special features which I assumed we’d have in the doc itself. It was interesting to see the documentary unfold and to realize what fit and what didn’t.

    Thanks, Paul, for your good wishes. Darius was very energetic at the LDS Film Festival. It was great to see him so strong.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 10:41 am

  17. Oh–thank you, Austin S., for those kind words.
    Here’s a link to a review by Gideon Burton:

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 11:09 am

  18. Margaret, any chance of seeing the film here in the Seattle area? Probably too late for this years SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival), but there is also the Northwest Film Forum, that has access to theaters here. We’d love to see it. I can also get you in contact with our regional PA director.

    Comment by kevinf — January 21, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  19. I vote for Northern California. I’m really looking forward to seeing it!

    Comment by Jami — January 21, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

  20. #17 – What a WONDERFUL review – beautifully worded and spot-on. Thanks, Margaret, for linking to it.

    Comment by Ray — January 21, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

  21. Just a side note, I noticed that BYU for MLK Day commemoration activities, has the Rev. France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church in SLC speaking there today. Kudos to BYU for this. The Rev. Davis has long been an outspoken advocate for the minority communities in Northern Utah.

    Comment by kevinf — January 21, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  22. Kevin F–that’s the third request today to get the film to the NW. I honestly don’t remember if we submitted to a festival in that area. Let me research the NWFF and see when they’re holding their festival. And btw, I feel just as you do about Pastor Davis. I work with him on a committee and love him dearly. My family will be attending his presentation tonight.

    Jami–I’d love to take it to the Sacramento/San Francisco area also. We’ll just take it a step at a time.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

  23. Okay, I just did research. The NW Film Forum just had its festival in November. However, the Seattle International Film Festival IS a possibility. They are accepting submissions through Feb. 15th. It’ll cost us $100. of documentary funds to submit, which isn’t much. No guarantee we’d be accepted. What do you think of the SIFF?

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  24. Margaret, if you do Seattle, I promise a bunch of support from my circle of associates. I know that Kevinf has a great network as well as Molly Bennion and others. If it is a matter of the $100, I’d be happy to cover it. I don’t know anything about the festival though.

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 21, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  25. You are so sweet, Jonathan–and I just commented on your BCC post, btw. We’ve got the money, thanks to our generous donors. Molly is one of the three who want me to get it to the NW. I just shot her an e-mail mentioning the SIFF. I think I’ll go ahead and submit. Can’t hurt.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

  26. Margaret,

    The Seattle International Film Festival is in the latter part of May, and the deadline for submissions is Feb 1. More info at It’s a large festival, with incredibly diverse entries. For a film of more than 30 minutes, the entry fee is $100, and I’ll split that with Stapley.

    The Northwest Film Forum is a combination of a school and mentoring program for indie filmmakers, runs a childrens’ film festival, but also books films for viewing throughout the year at their two screens in downtown Seattle. It’s where I first saw “New York Doll”. Their website is

    Comment by kevinf — January 21, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  27. Errr,

    Sorry. If the entry fee is covered, I’ll buy the popcorn for the house. 🙂

    Comment by kevinf — January 21, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

  28. What cool people y’all are!
    Actually, Kevin F, for members of “Without a Box,” the entry deadline is the 15th, though we’re ready to submit as soon as our editor gets us a copy.

    Anyway, I just submitted to SIFF. Kevin, we’ll count on your purchasing popcorn for everyone.

    I’ll send the actual film by the deadline. It appears they want a beta tape rather than a DVD, but we can do that too. So now, we just need people to tell the SIFF folks to accept our entry!

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

  29. […] good day to point out that the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons will be playing in the next few weeks at film festivals in Dallas and San Diego. And possibly more places, depending in its success at those festivals. This very worthwhile […]

    Pingback by Times & Seasons » Untold — January 21, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  30. As long as we’re taking submission suggestions, I propose the SilverDocs festival here in DC. I’d love to get a chance to see it.

    Comment by matt b — January 21, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

  31. Very good idea, Matt B. I’m getting a little nervous about festivals and budget, but maybe YOU could be our representative at the SilverDocs festival so we wouldn’t have to trave.. I have until March to submit to that one. By then, I’ll have an idea of what other festivals we’re committed to. I think we’d get a very good audience in DC. We’ve been there several times on book tours or just doing firesides for Black History Month.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 21, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

  32. I’d be honored, Margaret. If there’s anything I can do on this end, let me know. As long as I’m in DC (traveling some for diss research this semester), I’m at your command.

    I agree on the audience potential here, by the way – I know a few dozen people who’d be interested off the top of my head, and I don’t get out of the library much.

    Comment by matt b — January 21, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  33. I’m hoping to make the Dallas showing. Ironically, I’ll be in the NW that week and am hoping to make it back in time.

    Comment by queuno — January 21, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

  34. Friday afternoon 2-4. Darn, I’m working, but I’ll be thinking of you while I’m at my desk in Richardson.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — January 22, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  35. […] as black skin or a black heart?  Probably the latter, eh?  Especially in light of this new LDS film on black […]

    Pingback by I thought only McConkie talked about black skin? « Heart Issues for LDS — January 23, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

  36. Well, I just invited Todd Wood (who wrote #35) to our upcoming Utah screening. For those of you who missed the LDS Film Festival, please join us on Saturday March 8th at 11:00 a.m. in Ogden’s Egyptian Theater to view _Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons_. It’ll be part of the Foursite Film Festival.

    Pastor Wood, I’m looking forward to meeting you.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 23, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

  37. Margaret: Thanks for the heads up. I’m sure I’ll be there.

    Comment by David Grua — January 23, 2008 @ 8:34 pm

  38. Greetings to all and to all a good greet!

    In this review (,5143,695246634,00.html ) about Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, they mention an incident in which black members were asked to go to another ward. Can anyone elaborate about this awful incident?

    Thanks tons and take care

    Comment by Dusty Walker — January 24, 2008 @ 4:34 am

  39. Darius was in St. Louis a few months ago and learned about what had happened. I don’t have the details, but I’ll ask him.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 24, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  40. Okay, Matt B. You’re on. I just submitted to Silver Docs. (That means I sent the “intent to submit” to Without A Box. I will need to send two DVDs and the entry fee by Feb. 15th.) I’m quite serious that we might not be able to afford a trip to DC. So be prepared! Maybe you could get somebody from the Anacostia Branch to go with you. We do have names we could suggest. Let’s see if we’re accepted and I’ll let you know.

    For Utahns, the website for Foursite Film Festival is
    I’m really impressed with the goals of this festival.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 24, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  41. Margaret,

    I just read One More River to Cross over the Christmas break. Absolutely wonderful, I think you and Darius did a fantastic job with them. Makes me want to do more on Elijah Abel after reading it.

    Thanks for making this picture I will have to wait for the DVD or PBS broadcast as I am in Canada but I cannot wait.

    Comment by Jon W — January 24, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  42. Jon W–where are you in Canada? Gene Orr, one of the original members of the Genesis presidency, lives in Canada, though I can’t remember where. Either Toronto or Alberta. Or Ontario. I know it’s not Quebec. We’ve actually been thinking of doing something in his neck of the woods.

    Thanks for reading _One More River_. The other two in the series are going out of print, but _River_ is still in print. We want to get our rights back and re-publish, so we’re eager to get that “We’re sorry to inform you” letter about _One More River._

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 24, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

  43. Great, Margaret. I’m ready and willing. Do you know Alvin Jackson, by the way?

    Comment by matt b — January 24, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

  44. Matt B–I know Allen Jackson, but not Alvin. Darius might know him. Allen is from Texas and wrote a book called _Celia’s Boy_, about his own conversion and his father’s.

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 24, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

  45. I just talked with the San Diego film festival. They confirmed that showtime will be Saturday, 2/2, @ 5:00pm.
    Tickets are available on-line at:
    Don’t wait — they’ve already sold more than half the tickets. The on-line confirmation says that the tickets will come to your billing address but the staff insist that they will be held at Will Call. They also said that they may open a second screening if this sells out.
    You may want to buy a pass; the other films look interesting as well.

    Comment by manaen — January 25, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  46. Hello again Margaret,

    Thanks so much for helping me. Does anyone else have a hard time convincing most anglo people that racism still exists? If ever I get into a discussion, I share with people the MANY degrading experiences I’ve had and they honestly think I am being too sensitive, that these concerns are a cop-out, I’m trying to start trouble, I’m lying, or I’m exaggerating.

    I actually had to buy lollipops to convince white guys to dance with me when I went to Utah for a Lambda Delt. convention or that while I was in the MTC someone yelled, “Last one to the bus is a NIGGER” Or how about the time in the temple I was forced to change places from my anglo partner with another woman who happened to be with a polynesian man because the officiator didn’t think it was “right”. Uh Oh, Ya’ll have got me started now!!!

    I am looking forward to buying the movie and sharing it with people. I can actually feel as if I am no longer so alone – I feel empowered. I feel as if I don’t have to excuse my blackness, I can be proud of it. FINALLY!!!

    Thanks for bringing it up with Bro. Gray. Maybe you remember me, Bro. Gray introduced me to my husband via the telephone! I’m Black and He’s white. We met you when you came to Round Rock Texas.

    Well, take great care my dear!!

    PS. (SP)

    Comment by Dusty Walker — January 26, 2008 @ 3:25 am

  47. I do remember you, Dusty. How close is Round Rock to Dallas?

    Comment by Margaret Young — January 26, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  48. Hello Margaret, This is Jamie, (Dusty’s husband) –
    we are hoping to be able to go to the Dallas
    showing but are having some car problems. Its about a 5 hour drive, but we greatly need to see this film!

    I was reading the posts you had made about what parts of the film would end up in the extra features vs in the film itself. Please if possible leave the interview that mentions the temnple worker telling the black member that she woudnt recognize her in the next life because she would “not be black” – the response that Tamu Smith gives (or is it someone else) needs to be heard by every member. (I have not seen the film yet but am going by the preview and reviews) I can’t tell you how many times people say this to me or my wife, and how we have to correct them and tell them that they are incorrect. The idea of someone “turning white” when they go to heaven is absolutely appalling and hurtful and goes against the very point of the ressurection itself.

    We are praying for you and Darius and this film!!


    Comment by Jamie Walker — January 27, 2008 @ 2:27 am

  49. Im sorry, I need to make a correction to my last post — what I meant was: please *leave in* the interview that dealt with that topic. It was a very personal and special thing to hear what the Deseret News reviewer had sad about that part –


    Comment by jamie walker — January 27, 2008 @ 2:33 am

  50. Here’s an indicator of how times have changed: the 2008 Church Almanac reports that at the end of 2006, there were significantly more Mormons in Nigeria than in New York State. (79,482 in Nigeria vs. 72,641 in New York State)

    Comment by manaen — January 28, 2008 @ 11:08 pm

    Here’s a quote from an interview with Reverend “Chip” Murray, posted on Article VI Blog,

    And now, if you would find a church as socially conscious as the Mormon Church, you would have done well. The outreach, the worldwide missionary outreach, young adults, youth, volunteering their time, everyone is a minister in a ministry of outreach, that would be a wonderful model for all of our churches to adopt.

    Check also the video on that page, in which he said that Romney as a Mormon would face greater prejudice in the presidential election than would Obama.

    Comment by manaen — February 2, 2008 @ 12:09 am

  52. […] The Untold Story of Black Mormons, at the San Diego Black Film Festival. (Though there was one earlier Utah screening; and a concurrent showing in […]

    Pingback by Times & Seasons » Telling the Untold Story — February 4, 2008 @ 6:36 pm

  53. […] […]


  54. […] earlier posts on the priesthood ban or on this film, see here, here, here, and here. […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » “I Was Told That It Was True, and It Was a Marvelous Day” — March 9, 2008 @ 1:33 am


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