The LDS Church published a history on Blacks and the Priesthood recently. The write-up is linked below. It's an interesting read because it almost puts it matter-of-factly: in 1852 as the territory of Utah was being created, Brigham Young publicly stated that Blacks would not be allowed to hold the Priesthood or enter the temple. That belief was perpetuated for over 100 years until 1978 (best year, ever!). Why? Did Brigham act in the best interest of the state (ensuring more political stability and likelihood of eventual statehood)? Or did he use his own judgement and prejudices? Is this a case of "imperfect people leading the church" or was there a wise, divine purpose for this all?
It's interesting to read this timeline of events, of sorts. Take a gander, leave a comment here with any impressions.