Diversity a Thing of Beauty

June 2, 2021
Diversity a Thing of Beauty


Diversity a Thing of Beauty

Source: Portals to Freedom by Howard Colby Ives | Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

‘Abdu’l-Baha found racial differences a thing of beauty:

During ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s stay in New York… He was not ‘colour-blind’, but rather He found racial differences a thing of beauty.  When the Master was on His way to speak to several hundred men at the Bowery Mission He was accompanied by a group of Persian and American friends.  …a group of boys was intrigued by the sight of this group of “Orientals” with their flowing robes and turbans and started to follow them.  They soon became noisy and obstreperous.  

A lady in the Master’s party recalled: “I could not bear to hear ‘Abdu’l-Baha so treated and dropped behind the others for a moment to speak to them. In a few words, I told them Who He was; that He was a very Holy Man who had spent many years in exile and prison because of His love for Truth and for men, and that now He was on His way to speak to the poor men at the Bowery Mission.”

“Can’t we go too?” one [boy] who seemed to be the leader asked. I think that would be impossible, she told them, but if you come to my home next Sunday, and she gave them the address, I will arrange for you to see Him.

Thus, on Sunday, some twenty or thirty of them appeared on the doorstep, rather scruffy and noisy, but with signs that they had tidied up for the occasion nonetheless.  Upstairs in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s room the Master was seen at the door greeting each boy with a handclasp or an arm around the shoulder, with warm smiles and boyish laughter.  His happiest welcome seemed to be directed to the thirteen-year-old boy near the end of the line.  He was quite dark-skinned and didn’t seem too sure he would be welcome.  

The Master’s face lighted up and in a loud voice that all could hear exclaimed with delight that ‘here was a black rose’.  

The boy’s face shone with happiness and love.  Silence fell across the room as the boys looked at their companion with a new awareness.  The Master did not stop at that, however.  On their arrival He had asked that a big five-pound box of delicious chocolates be fetched.  With this He walked around the room, ladling out chocolates by the handful to each boy.  Finally, with only a few left in the box, He picked out one of the darkest chocolates, walked across the room and held it to the cheek of the black boy.  The Master was radiant as He lovingly put His arm around the boy’s shoulders and looked with a humorously piercing glance around the group without making any further comment.

‘Abdu’l- Baha’s face was radiant… and that radiance seems to fill the room.” The children looked with real wonder at the colored boy as if they had never seen him before. “As for the boy, himself… his eyes fastened with an adoring, blissful look upon the Master…For the moment he was transformed. The reality of his being had been brought to the surface and the angel he really was revealed.”

You see, ‘Abdu’l- Baha seemed to say, that he is not only a black flower, but also a black sweet. You eat black chocolates and find them good: perhaps you would find this black brother of yours good also [see] his sweetness.

We would love to hear from you

© 2021 National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. | Privacy Policy | Terms and conditions | Site Credits


Contact Us

Whether you are exploring the Bahá'í Faith or looking to become an active member, there are various ways you can connect with our community.

Please ensure that all the Required Fields* are completed before submitting.

Please choose one or more options below*:
Meet Bahá’ís near you or schedule a time to speak with a Bahá’í by phone or video chat.
Have introductory material mailed to you.
Receive a monthly round-up of new content on the bahai.us site and other features.
I would like to find Bahá’ís in my area
First Name*
Last Name*
Contact Information:
ZIP Code*
E-mail *
Do you have any questions or comments you would like to share with us?

characters available