On this day in 1945, Darius Gray was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Gray grew in Colorado Springs, where attended Parker High School. After graduating, he went on to continue his education at Columbia University. In 1964, Gray chose to be baptized in the LDS church after being inspired while talking to Mormon missionaries. However, before his baptism, he learned that African Americans were not allowed to be ordained to personhood or to receive the “endowment” in LDS temples. Regardless of the restrictions, Gray decided to go through with the baptism.
Gray then moved to Provo, Utah, becoming one of two black students at Brigham Young University in 1965. Gray was told by the dean of students that he must have no interaction at all with the white women. After finishing out the school year, he moved to Seattle, Washington. However, in 1967, the radio-television station KSL in Salt Lake City offered him a job as a newspaper. Gray moved back to Utah and worked with the news station for five years.
In 1971, Gray met with Ruffin Bridgeforth and Eugene Orr, two black Mormon men. They decided to contact churches and seek out support for black Mormons – with Gray at the head of the operation. The LDS Genesis Group, an organization that offered African Americans support within the Mormon community, was founded as the result.
LDS leaders lifted the priesthood ban on June 8, 1978. Although Gray was not active with the church at this time, he resumed activity shortly after the lift of the ban. In 1996, he became the Genesis president.
While serving as president, he and Margaret Blair Young wrote a trilogy of historical novels together. Additionally, Gray co-produced two documentaries about the history of the Mormon Church. Gray also helped digitize the Freedman’s Bank Records, allowing millions of African Americans to access family records for the first time. He dedicated the Jane James monument in 2000 and the Elijah Abel monument in 2002, memorializing the lives of two of the most important black Mormon pioneers.
Gray served as president of Genesis until 2003.