Robert Turner “The Door”

May 26, 2021
Robert Turner “The Door”


Robert Turner “The Door” 

Source: Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p. 101

Mr. Robert Turner, the butler of philanthropist Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, distinguished himself by being the first Western Black man to become a Baha’i.  May Maxwell recalled later that ‘on the morning of our arrival [on pilgrimage], after we had refreshed ourselves, the Master summoned us all to Him in a long room overlooking the Mediterranean.  He sat in silence gazing out of the window, then looking up He asked if all were present.  Seeing that one of the believers was absent, He said, “Where is Robert?” . . . In a moment Robert’s radiant face appeared in the doorway and the Master rose to greet him, bidding him be seated, and said, “Robert, your Lord loves you.  God gave you a black skin, but a heart white as snow.”’  Such was the tenacity of his faith that even the subsequent estrangement of his beloved mistress from the Cause she had spontaneously embraced failed to becloud its radiance, or to lessen the intensity of the emotions which the loving-kindness showered by ‘Abdu’l-Baha upon him had excited in his breast.’


While in the Holy Land, ‘Abdu’l-Baha displayed a great affection for Turner which stood in stark contrast to the conventions of interracial interaction in Western societies.  In this way He modeled how true Baha’ís should act towards all members of the human race. ‘Abdu’l-Baha told Turner, “if he remained firm and steadfast until the end, he would be the door through which a whole race would enter the Kingdom.”

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