Waterfront picnic brings people together
About 400 people ate, listened to music and got to know people of
other races, nationalities and religions on the banks of the Ohio
Race Unity Day event draws about 400 for food, music, socializing
The Race Unity Day Picnic 2001, sponsored by Baha'is of Greater
Louisville at Waterfront Park, focused attention on racial prejudice
by bringing a variety of people together socially.
"The Baha'is consider racism to be the most challenging issue in
America," said Nancy Harris, a spokeswoman for the 200-member Baha'is
of Greater Louisville. "If we can get people together . . . that will
help solve the problem."
The central belief of the Baha'i faith - founded in 19th-century
Iran, then known as Persia - is that humanity is one race and that
it's time to unify all people in one global society. The faith claims
5 million followers worldwide.
Organizers of yesterday's free event, held since 1996 in
Louisville but for the first time at the waterfront, distributed
bumper stickers with multicolored human figures that read, "This is
the color of my race - The human race!"
They also gave out some 600 hot dogs, accompanied by cole slaw and
baked beans, Harris said.
Three bands entertained the picnickers with African, Caribbean and
blues music, and a youth group performed dances with social-action
Raidan Adoki said she is not a Baha'i but decided to come to the
picnic after seeing an announcement about the event in a coffee shop.
"Basically, I've been meeting different nationalities, different
people," she said, while sitting at a table under a large tent,
listening to the last of the three bands. "Everyone was smiling and
it was real nice. Everybody got along real well."
Dr. Jahangir Cyrus, a Baha'i and physician from Iran who has lived
in Louisville since 1976, said "racism is a disease that saps the
energy of this country," but "events like this bring joy to people's
Cyrus said, "We are truly fruits of one tree and leaves of one
Shahriar Jason Farhadi, also a Baha'i originally from Iran, came
early to set up for the event, then celebrated Father's Day at the
picnic with his wife and three young sons.
Farhadi said the deep spirituality that his parents instilled in
him helped keep him out of trouble as a youth.
"I think if I wasn't a Baha'i, I might have had the wrong friends
and hung out with the wrong crowd," said Farhadi, who has lived in
Anchorage since 1991.
In between the band sets, seven local Baha'i youths, dressed in
black pants and colorful T-shirts, performed dances, raps, songs and
poems with such themes as unity and the pain of racism and violence.
A.J. Jenkins, 16, helped start the youth group, called Jubilation
Circuit Returns, last fall after getting involved with a similar
group in Indianapolis.
"I just like it because it allows the youth to express themselves
using the arts and also deal with social issues," said A.J., who will
be a senior at Eastern High School.
"Our biggest problem is we don't have enough people."
The group, which is open to people of any faith ages 11 to 25,
meets every other weekend at the Baha'i Center on Bardstown Road in
Buechel. For more information, call A.J. at 423-1506.
Carl Edlin prepared a hot dog lunch for himself and his son Jorden, 4, at
yesterday's Race Unity Day Picnic 2001.
©Copyright 2001, Courier - Journal