Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Early Black Baha'is Testify!

(A photo of Louis G. Gregory, 1874-1951, of the first generation of Black American Baha'is and one of the most celebrated figures in Baha'i History. For more information visit www.louisgregorymuseum.org)

I'm getting ready to participate in the Harvard Symposium, "A Time to Speak" that is bringing together Black folks from diverse religious backgrounds to talk about our response to crisis. As I mentioned I recently attended an awesome class about the origins of the Baha'i Faith in Black America and learned a lot about the first and second generations of Black Baha'is in the early part of the 20th century. Our lecturer, Jay Green provided us with a compilation of personal testimonies of some of these remarkable souls. I wanted to share a few of them in honor of my spiritual ancestors whom I pray will be present and assist me on Friday.

"I hope to acquire more power, power to fight for the unity of humanity. I am identifying myself with this Cause and I go up with you or down with you. Anything for this Cause! Let it go out and remove the darkness everywhere. Save my people! Save America from herself!"
Robert Abbott, at the 1934 Baha'i National Convention

"The divine springtime has appeared and the great enlightened principles, which are the light and progress of the whole world of humanity, are set in motion. These relate to the great peace, the universality of truth, to the great law that humanity is one, even as God is one, to the elevation of the station of women, who must no longer be confined to a limited life but be everywhere recognised as the equal and [helpmate] of man. These pertain to the universality of education, to the oneness of language, to the solution of this economic problem which has vexed the greatest minds of the world and the noblest hearts, and to that supreme dynamic power, the Holy Spirit of God, whose outpouring upon the whole world of flesh will make this a world of light, of joy, and of triumph."
From Louis G. Gregory's "Racial Amity" address, given at the first Amity convention in May of 1921

"...is it not evident that the Baha'i teaching, reiterating the Gospel of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man, is not only the last hope of the colored people, but must appeal strongly to all persons, regardless of race or color, who have come to say 'I am my brother's keeper'. If any one of us has come to realize his duty to the community in which he lives, to the country of which that community is a part, to the world to which that country must contribute its share in the making of world Progress and to his God, must he not embrace the teachings of Baha'o'llah as the Greatest instrument put in the hands of man for bringing all the nations of the earth under the conscious harmony of the Will of God? Every noble principle, every lofty ideal, every rule of the conduct of the Baha'i Faith can be defended by the passages of our own Bible."
Coralie Franklin Cook, in her March 2, 1914 letter to 'Abdu'l-Baha