Scant Documentation Surrounding the Origin of the Restriction
As you know, for close to 130 years blacks were not only banned from holding the priesthood but black individuals and black families were blocked from the saving ordinances of the Temple. Every single prophet from Brigham Young all the way to Harold B. Lee kept this ban in place.
Prophets, Seers, and Revelators of 2013 – in the Church’s December 2013 Race and the Priesthood essay – disavowed the “theories” of yesterday’s Prophets, Seers, and Revelators for their theological, institutional, and doctrinal racist teachings and “revelation.”
Yesterday’s racist doctrine and revelation is now today’s “disavowed theories.”
Additionally, the above-mentioned essay also withdraws “that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse” while ironically contradicting the Book of Mormon itself: (No it doesn't contradict the Book of Mormon)
2 NEPHI 5:21
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” (This verse doesn't contradict the church essay. It has zero to do with African Americans, Instead, it pertains to Nephi's views of his Lamanite brethren)
CES Letter, Page 65
Declaring that there are "very clear insights on the origins of the ban on the blacks" goes well beyond the evidence.
If the author of The CES Letter had done research on the documents concerning the relevant records, he has given us no evidence of his work. Is he aware of Parley P. Pratt’s April 1847 comments? Brigham Young’s comments in March and December of the same year? If he is convinced that the these insights are “very clear,” perhaps he could provide them to his readers.
If he knows the records as well as he implies that he does, it is odd indeed that he would cite only the 1949 “First Presidency Statement,” a document with a questionable provenance from over 100 years after the fact.
If the author of The CES Letter feels the records are “very clear,” then he should be able to report to us the month—or even the year—in which the priesthood restriction came into being. He should be able to point us to the document laying out the “revelation” (as he calls it) dictating the origins of the ban. Was it in February 1849 when Brigham Young first went on record articulating the ban? February 1852 when he articulated it in public? Or was it earlier in April 1847 when Parley P. Pratt expressed his support for the restriction? Runnells doesn’t say. For someone who claims to know that the records are “very clear” and someone who is allegedly committed to shedding light on a misunderstood topic, his offerings are scant indeed.