The recently formed nonprofit, The Black 14 Philanthropy, and the Latter-day Saint Charities have partnered up to provide 40,000 pounds of food commodities to the Wind River Reservation. The delivery is planned for November 17th – the food will be dispersed by the Tribes at a different time.
The Wind River Reservation is one of nine receiving food donations across the US through this initiative. Mel Hamilton, of The Black 14 Philanthropy, said organizations were selected based on area needs. “The Black 14 got together and decided to choose these cities because they know the severe need in these cities.”
The collaboration for this initiative had an unlikely beginning. Fourteen members of the 1969 University of Wyoming football team were kicked off the team for asking to protest the policy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group later became known as The Black 14 and have recently formed a philanthropic organization. Their mission is to educate the next generation of underserved communities to social justice change.
“When you go through something like that, a lot of people get hurt. A lot of organizations get hurt. I must do everything I can to plaster all the cracks made in the walls of that relationship. All it was, was a rift. Not a hate,” said Hamilton. “My mom said, ‘God will tell you what to do. All you have to do is listen.’ So, I’m listening.”
“I want people to understand the loving relationship that The Black 14 and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are trying to initiate. I want people to realize that we’re working together, and will continue to work together, to strengthen the love between people—even people with differences,” said Hamilton.
President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently addressed the Church’s members and said, “It is my prayer and blessing that I leave upon all who are listening that we may overcome any burdens of prejudice and walk uprightly with God—and with one another—in perfect peace and harmony.”
“With the racial tension in our country, working with the great men of The Black 14 to bring relief to communities is a tender experience for us, and a model for others who are working to root out racism,” said Elder Michael D. Jones, an area leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Area President, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen said, “As a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a former Brigham Young University quarterback, when I became acquainted with Mel Hamilton, one of the original Black 14 members, I was deeply moved knowing the Church could offer its resources to help the Black 14 provide education and nourishment for those in need. We have become dear friends and close allies in a unified purpose, helping our brothers and sisters. We are honored to partner with them, assisting in the health and development of children. Significant changes are happening from our shared vision.”
Elder Larry Eco Hawk, emeritus general authority seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said “I was the starting defensive safety in the game we played in Laramie, Wyoming, following the dismissal of the 14 black Wyoming players. I was one of the few racial minorities on the BYU football team. It was a challenging situation for me personally.”
He continued, “I am overwhelmed by the deliveries currently underway to have a joint cooperative effort to assist those in need. We are grateful for the Black 14 and their desire to help those in need. Elder Nielsen and Mel Hamilton have led the way in showing what forgiveness looks like.”
UPDATE: An earlier version stated 10,000 pounds of food will be delivered. It was actually 40,000 pounds of food.
Click here to learn more about The Black 14.