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White American Bahá’ís, he feels, although they have very much less prejudice than the American people, are nevertheless tainted to some extent with this national evil, perhaps wholly unconsciously so. Therefore, it behooves every believer of white extraction to carefully study his own attitude, and to see whether he is condescending in his relations with his fellow-Bahá’ís of negro extraction . . .

The attitude toward teaching the Faith in the southern states of the United States should be entirely changed. For years, in the hope of attracting the white people, in order to "go easy" with them and not offend their sensibilities, a compromise has been made in the teaching work throughout the South. The results have been practically nil. The white people have not responded worth mentioning, to the Faith, and the colored people have been hurt and also have not responded.

He feels it is time that the Bahá’ís stopped worrying entirely about the white element in a community, and that they should concentrate on showing the negro element that this is a Faith which produces full equality and which loves and wants minorities. The Bahá’ís should welcome the negroes to their homes, make every effort to teach them, associate with them, even marry them if they want to. We must remember that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself united in Bahá’í marriage a colored and a white believer. He could not do more.

Also . . . the Faith must be representative of the population. In a great many places in the South, the majority of the population is still negro. This should be reflected in the Bahá’í Community, fearlessly. Both the white Bahá’ís and the colored Bahá’ís must steadily work to attain this objective of bringing the Faith to the colored people, and of confirming many of them in it. Both sides have prejudices to overcome; one, the prejudice which is built up in the minds of a people who have conquered and imposed their will, and the other the reactionary prejudice of those who have been conquered and sorely put upon.

Your committee should devote the major part of its effort towards attaining these goals in the South, and it should also as part of its work, urge the Bahá’ís, wherever they may be, to devote more attention to the minorities.

[letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Bahá’í Inter-racial Teaching Committee, Dorothy Frey, chrmn., 27 May 1957, Letters of Shoghi Effendi, National Bahá’í Archives, Wilmette, Ill., cited in Morrison, To Move the World, page 293-4]

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