President M. Russell Ballard dedicated a new monument in Utah to four Black Latter-day Saint pioneers—Green Flake, Hark Wales, Oscar Smith, and Jane Elizabeth Manning James
“We’re honored to be able to dedicate this memorial and these wonderful features that have now been added to declare to all who visit [This Is The Place Heritage Park] how precious and important every child of God is unto Thee,” President M. Russell Ballard said in his dedicatory prayer before several hundred people on Friday, July 22, 2022. “We are grateful for the Black pioneers and our dear friends of the Black community and in the Church and all that they do to bless the lives of others.”
Three statues and three 10-foot-high stone slabs represent the contributions of all Black pioneers in the settling of Utah and are intended to create a place of learning, reflection and healing. Specifically, they honor these four black pioneers:
Green Flake was born into slavery on January 6, 1828, in North Carolina. At age 10, he was given to James and Agnes Flake. They moved to Mississippi. At age 19, Flake drove the first wagon of pioneers into Emigration Canyon under the direction of Orson Pratt.
Jane Elizabeth Manning James was born free in Wilton, Connecticut, around 1822. After an arduous journey to Nauvoo by foot — she was denied boat passage because of her race — she lived for a time with Joseph Smith’s family. She was expecting her third child when she entered the Salt Lake Valley in September 1847. She remained a faithful and respected Latter-day Saint until her death in 1908.
Hark Wales and Oscar Smith were brothers, born into bondage on a plantation in Mississippi. Latter-day Saint pioneer John Brown, the overseer who managed their enslaved labor, took them to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they were chosen to be part of Brigham Young’s vanguard company.
Watch the video below and learn more in the article “President Ballard Dedicates Monument to Black Pioneers.”