There is no tidy or pretty answer to this question. But it is a question that, if openly engaged, can teach us a great deal.
We invited Paul Reeve, the Simmons Chair of Mormon Studies in the History Department at the University of Utah, to be our guide. If there is a definitive book on this subject, it may be Reeve’s Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, which received three best book awards.
You can read this essay Reeve wrote for us titled Making Sense of the Church’s History on Race. It’s a terrific, well-balanced summary of the history.
And you can watch or listen to his conversation with Terryl Givens on the subject titled The Real Story of the Priesthood-Temple Ban.
The church’s official essay on the subject is also a very good resource.