African American Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church activist Darius Gray was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Elsie Johnson and Darius McKinley Gray on December 12, 1945. His mother was a domestic worker (maid), and his father a handyman. His grandfather, Louis Gray, was born a slave in Marshall, Missouri.
Gray, a journalist and a businessman, grew up in Colorado Springs where he attended Parker High School. Later he enrolled in Columbia University. In 1964 Gray, while living in Colorado Springs, decided to be baptized in the LDS church after listening to Mormon missionaries. In his pre-baptismal interview, however, he learned that black men were not permitted to be ordained to the priesthood, and no person of black African descent was permitted to receive the “endowment” in LDS temples. After a revelatory experience, Gray decided to be baptized regardless of the restrictions.
Gray moved to Provo, Utah, where in 1965 he became one of two black students at Brigham Young University. The other, a woman, left when a group of students yelled epithets and threw apple cores at her. The dean of students told Gray that he must have no interaction with white women. At the end of the school year, he moved to Seattle, Washington, vowing never to return to Utah.
That vow proved short-lived because in 1967, he was offered a job as a news reporter by the radio-television station KSL in Salt Lake City. He returned to Utah and worked as a news reporter for five years.
In 1971 Darius Gray met with two other black Mormon men: Ruffin Bridgeforth and Eugene Orr. The three decided that Gray would contact church leaders to find support for black Mormons, many of whom were the descendants of nineteenth century black pioneer Mormons. Three members of the LDS hierarchy, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and Boyd K. Packer, met with Gray, Orr, and Bridgeforth. As a result of these meetings, the LDS Genesis Group, a support organization for black Mormons, was founded on October 19, 1971. Two of the three church leaders,