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SALT LAKE CITY — NBC will devote an hour on Thursday to explore being "Mormon in America." The presidential election has a lot of people asking questions about the Latter-day Saint faith. And an academic conference of Latter-Day Saint women will help to answer a few of those questions.
At the University of Utah conference of "Women and the LDS Church," the keynote speaker is Pulitzer Prize winning author and Harvard historian, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ph.D. The panel discussions will also include other women with different experiences in the faith, local and worldwide.
When most people think of "Mormon moments" they probably don't think of the Utah suffragists, pushing for the female vote. But, as Ulrich will explain in the conference, that was a big part of Mormon history.
"When Utah passed Women's suffrage and that was stimulated, in part, by national interest in Mormonism and by very negative stereotypes of Latter-Day Saint Women," she said.
Even if we live in an area, as I do, where Latter-Day Saints are very much in the minority, we just kind of flock together rather than using our voices and being very present in the community.
–Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ph.D.
Ulrich says it's important to connect those strong Latter-Day Saint women with women of the faith in the 21st century, who still suffer under a negative stereotype.
"Even if we live in an area, as I do, where Latter-Day Saints are very much in the minority, we just kind of flock together rather than using our voices and being very present in the community," she said.
Mariama Kallon, born and raised in Sierra Leone, will participate in a panel discussion. She escaped a civil war 13 years ago, having watched the murders of her family members. The Mormon faith lifted her, she says.
"It has helped me to know more about the meaning of life and the life I have to live as a mormon to become a good woman in society," Kallon said.
Scholar and author, Joanna Brooks is another LDS woman that is sought after by the media for her latest book, "Book of Mormon Girl." She says it comes at a time when America is hungry for information about the LDS faith.
"Being able to tell my story, my very unorthodox but regular story with ups and downs, has helped, I think, connect a little bit with this hunger."