Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Adetola Hassan, December 16, 2001. Interview R-0160. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Importance of marrying within Mormon faith

Hassan discusses the disparity between African American men and African American women in the Mormon Church in the American South. In particular, Hassan addresses this issue in relationship to marriage. According to Hassan, marrying within the Mormon faith was more important than marrying within the race.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Adetola Hassan, December 16, 2001. Interview R-0160. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What are some of your goals, some of your goals in looking for a marriageable mate? What are some of the criteria in selecting a marriage partner and that sort of thing?
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Well, obviously I want somebody who is LDS especially—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Latter Day Saints.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Right. Especially seeing like my dad and how he's lived his life like besides being a goal oriented person, but somebody who places family very high on their list and someone who is going somewhere and has goals for his life and who does live the Gospel as part of his life and not just Sundays and just. Basically someone like my dad.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Who's living the life of the Mormon ideal.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Right.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Now in the churches that you've gone to do you find, do you see a lot of African American males in the Mormon church?
ADETOLA HASSAN:
There are not as especially in America. I haven't. There's more girls definitely I think.
BARBARA COPELAND:
More African American girls.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Yeah. I'm sure, like I know in our ward I think Lamont is the only one I think or maybe there's another one. I don't know. Yes, so there's, I don't know about other places because I've only been to church in two places. There's I'm sure like at BYU. It's bigger
BARBARA COPELAND:
Larger number, larger number. So now how does that make you feel or comfortwise seeing the disportionate number of African Americans versus whites within the tradition that the Latter Day Saint tradition that you were born and raised in and now that you don't see a whole lot.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
One thing for me is like I've been to church in Nigeria, and so I have seen guys that are LDS all the time. But I mean it is something that I've thought about and were thinking about wanting to marry somebody who is of the church, and it's easier to marry somebody in your race like and—
BARBARA COPELAND:
Would you consider in other words are you ruling out that you would never perhaps maybe date or marry—
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Someone who wasn't African American.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right who wasn't black but was Latter Day Saints.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
No, not at all. I mean I think I mean I've had friends who aren't black who are LDS, and I mean whatever the path that God wants me to go. You can't choose.
BARBARA COPELAND:
I guess there are like two controversial issues. Because the pool of marriageable African American men is low to begin with and then when you compound that with looking for a pool of African American male—
ADETOLA HASSAN:
LDS
BARBARA COPELAND:
Mormons. The pool gets even smaller here in the United States. Well, I have to just speak for the southern part. Maybe out west it maybe a larger percentage. Of course I'm sure that it is, but by and large when you look at it as a whole just within the United States the pool is very small. So the two controversies then that an African American, single African American woman who is Mormon, the two controversies that she would be posed with are do I marry outside of my race if I want to definitely stay within the Mormon tradition because there are more white Latter Day Saints than there are African American males Latter Day Saints. So one controversy would be do I marry outside of my race to ensure that I stay within my faith, or do I marry outside of my faith to ensure to meet the other maybe a requirement of wanting to stay within your race. So I guess now since coming from Nigeria where the pool, the African pool is much larger, and in fact from what I'm understanding is that there are more traditionally more African Mormons than there are white Mormons in Nigeria.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Yes. Most definitely.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So then it's in reverse then in Nigeria of what the kinds of dynamics that you see here in terms of the numbers. So if you went to, if you were in Nigeria that you wouldn't be really faced with those two controversies. But here in American certainly over here in the South where we are considered in the southern belt which is predominantly Protestant Southern Baptist you're going to find more whites in the Mormon church than you would African American. So how do you, how would you for yourself reconcile or try to figure out which way you would go?
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Well, just because I've seen, I mean I've seen people who have married outside of the church, and I've seen people who are married in the church. For the majority of it like the couples that are married in the church it's a lot easier especially for a woman. I would never want to have a house or have children without the priesthood after having that growing up.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's so important.
ADETOLA HASSAN:
Yeah. I've seen, then I have seen people who even among white couples who married outside the church. Definitely for the most part it's a lot harder, and it causes a lot of stress because the church takes up a lot of your life because it is such a part of your life. There's a lot of I think almost jealousy or animosity towards the spouse that is in the church who is spending so much of their time involved in that. The other person feels left out. So I think for me I would have to make a choice to stay in my faith just because it's so important to me.