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1921 19-21 May The first Race Amity Conference was held in Washington DC at the old First Congregational Church, 10th & G Streets NW. This church had a reputation for opposition to racial prejudice and had close ties with Howard University. It had a capacity of 2,000. [BW2:281; CoO197; SYH126]

Referring back to this historic event, Abdu’l-Baha, in a Tablet to Roy Williams (an African-American Baha’i from New York City), wrote:

    I hope that the Congress of the White and the Colored that was instituted will have great influence in the inhabitants of America, so that everyone may confess and bring witness that the teachings of His Holiness, Baha’u’llah, assembles the White, the Black, the Yellow, the Red and the Brown under the shade of the pavilion of the Oneness of the World of Humanity; and that if the teachings of His Holiness, Baha’u’llah, be not enforced, the antagonism between the Colored and the White, in America, will give rise to great calamities. The ointment for this wound and the remedy for this disease is only the Holy Breaths [Holy Spirit]. If the hearts be attracted to the Heavenly Bounties, surely will the White and the Colored, in a short time, according to the teachings of Baha’u’llah, put away hatred and animosity and [abide in] perfect love and fellowship. (Haifa, August 2, 1921, translated by Touhi [Ruhi] M. Afnan.) [The Bahá'í “Pupil of the Eye” Metaphor—What Does it Mean? by Christopher Buck]
  • Martha Root handled the newspaper publicity for the conference and 'Abdu'l-Bahá sent a message to it via Mountfort Mills. [SYH126]
  • Mabry and Sadie Oglesby and their daughter Bertha from Boston as well as Agnes Parsons and Louis Gregory were involved. Agnes Parsons, during her pilgrimage in 1920, was instructed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "I want you to arrange in Washington a convention for unity between the white and colored people."[SETPE1p141-145, BW2p281]
  • For details of the conference see the article by Louis Gregory entitled "Inter-racial Amity". [BW2:281-2]
  • See article The Bahá'í 'Race Amity' Movement and the Black Intelligentsia in Jim Crow America:Alain Locke and Robert Abbot by Christopher Buck [Bahá'í Studies Review, 17, pages 3-46, 2011] (includes a chronology of 29 Race Amity conferences organized in the United States between 1921 and 1935).
  • The Washington Bee (which, as part of its masthead, billed itself “Washington’s Best and Leading Negro Newspaper”) published the text of the entire speech on May 25, 1912, in an article headlined, “Abdue [ sic] Baha: Revolution in Religious Worship.”
  • Documentary: 'Abdu'l-Baha's Initiative on Race from 1921: Race Amity Conferences.
  • See the film Root of the Race Amiy Movement.
  • See the trailer for the film An American Story: Race Amity and the Other Tradition.
  • See the website for the National Centre for Race Amity.
  • Washington DC; United States Race (general); Race Amity; Race unity; Conferences, Race Amity; First conferences; Mabry Oglesby; Sadie Oglesby; Agnes Parsons; Louis Gregory; Martha Root; Mountfort Mills
     
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