Racism is a Curable Disease
Baha'is view racism as America's most vital and challenging issue. Baha'u'llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith, taught that the world's peace, prosperity and well being ultimately depend on the recognition of the oneness of humanity.
From the beginning of the Baha'i community in the United States in the 1890s, the Baha'is have taken a strong stand to affirm racial equality.
Baha'is believe that wherever there is inequality and injustice, all of society is harmed. They also believe everyone is responsible for working for a just society. Race unity encompasses equal opportunity, but its implications run deeper. The Baha'i Faith teaches the need for a spiritual transformation that will cause a change in individual and collective behavior.
Talks from 'Abdu'l-Baha
In 1912, ‘Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's son and appointed successor, undertook a nine-month tour of the United States in which he gave many talks, frequently emphasizing the necessity of race unity. ‘Abdu'l-Baha insisted that the places where He spoke be open to people of all races. During this trip, He also addressed the fourth annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Working towards the establishment of Racial Unity
The Baha'i community works to encourage race unity at local, national and international levels. In 1921, the National Spiritual Assembly, the governing body of the Baha'is of the United States, started a series of race amity conferences in Washington, D.C. The spirit of those conferences lives on today in race unity activities hosted by Baha'is in localities around the country. In 1957, the National Spiritual Assembly inaugurated Race Unity Day to promote racial harmony and understanding. It is celebrated annually on the second Sunday in June.
Family as a Foundation
Baha'u'llah's call for loving fellowship begins with the family. The first Baha'i interracial marriage in the United States took place in 1914, at a time when such marriages were prohibited or not recognized in 25 states. Today, Baha'i parents nationwide are striving to raise a generation of prejudice-free children.
The United States Postal Service has honored ten of America’s most illustrious poets of the 20th century on 45-cent First-Class Mail Forever stamps. Among those chosen was Robert Hayden, the first African-American to be appointed Poet Laureate. Hayden was also a longtime Baha’i.
“O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.”— `Abdu'l-Bahá
“If the human race is one, any notion that a particular racial, ethnic, or national group is in some way superior to the rest of humanity must be dismissed; society must reorganize its life to give practical expression to the principle of equality for all its members regardless of color, creed or gender; and all individuals must be given the opportunity to realize their inherent potential and thereby contribute to ‘an ever-advancing civilization.’”— Baha'i International Community