Shoghi Effendi said, “Mrs. Oglesby, whatever is the cause, whether it is the black man’s cause, whether it is his shortcomings; whether it is the white people’s cause, does not matter. What matters is that it is VITAL, that he enters the Cause. Whatever it is, you must remove the thing that keeps the black man out, and bring him into the Cause--- Not for the sake of the Colored Group, but, for the sake of the world, and for the sake of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.”
He said, “I want to see many colored people coming to Haifa,” and he said, “the blacker they are, the better we will be pleased.”
He said, “No doubt the white people of America are watching to see what the Bahai’s are doing with the colored people, and when they see the white Bahai’s accepting the colored people as brothers, in every sense of the word, it will give them confidence in your religion, and they will join with you, helping to establish universal brotherhood, but, as long as we don’t absolutely practice this, we are keeping the White Bahai’s out of the Cause.”
He said: "Study the needs of the Cause, and then you will know that the need of the Cause is that the Negro be represented, that he might express his view-point, that you might understand his position; that we might reach across this chasm and study it, and know the needs-- don't go at things blindly."
The Education Initiative has completed the assembly of resources for the home schooling of children from PreK-8 Grade.
Much appreciation to the team of:
Alice Nightingale, Cynthia Phillips, Elaine Montgomery, Laura Hossein McLuckie-Khandan, Gene Marie Kennedy, Jennifer Treadwell, Karima White, Lee Moavenzadeh, Mary McGregor, Sharon Jayakumar-Becker, Tahirih Hanson, Teisha Talley (Pope), and Whelma Thompson and Willis Burris
Mrs. Sateh Bayat has taken the initiative to ask the NSA to make Sadie Oglesby's remarks to the NSA in 1927 made widely available to all.
A group started by Susan Crossley and Carol Campbell has been meeting studying a document created by Aaron Crossley on how to nurture, encourage, and support the pupil of the eye by not triggering them. They will add more later.
I'm sending this to the moderators (and facilitators who's address I had) and to all who have expressed an interest in being a part of the letter. Feel free to send it to whoever you like. How it will work is that I will copy the text in the google document into an email, and send it to the community that way.
All of you will be able to make suggestions, but not change the text until your change is approved, so feel free to offer suggestions.
However Please make any suggestions ASAP, as this needs to go out ASAP. Also add your name at the bottom as a digital signature, if you are so inclined.
Here's the link:
SANDRA SIMMONS AND AARON CROSSLEY
Los Angeles California
The Arise conference in Nashville TN 2019, galvanized a movement with the POTE (Pupil of the Eye) community. This wave of renewed energy, focusing on Centering the Pupil of the Eye in Baha’i activities, surged forward with such clarity in addressing the most vital work Shoghi Effendi illuminated in The Advent of Divine Justice.
The Arise Conference’s influential energy spread from Nashville to a daily nationwide prayer call focusing on race and racism, and further found expression in Los Angeles California.
The LA group is focused on how we as a Bahai community “Unpack Anti-Blackness- and take Steps Toward racial Unity”. In consultation on how we move from talking about race and racism, into action within the core activities, the Los Angeles group continues to explore approaches to community building through the lens of Centering the Pupil of the Eye within this framework.
We recognize how the individual, community, and our Baha’i institutions are all protagonists in building the vision of Baháʼu’lláh, and our unified efforts in addressing racism, the most vital and challenging issue, will ultimately bring healing to a world craving God’s remedy for humanity.
In removing the anti black systemic racism infecting humanity through the transformative message of Baha'u'llah, and in our obedience to the covenant, the initiative being fostered in Los Angeles is exciting, challenging, and is provoking such intensive learning. It's building on energy from the POTE conference, but it's also conjuring its own amplifying contagious energy, Ya Baha'u'l-Abha.
Dearly loved friends,
It is with pained hearts that the Local Spiritual Assembly is writing to you concerning the death of George Floyd. Video of his treatment by the police while repeatedly asking for help was horrible to witness. Yet another death of an African American, this time near our very doorstep, has caused the Assembly much sadness and worry for those experiencing racism on a daily basis. It is with love and hope in the power of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings that this letter is being written.
George Floyd’s death has brought into stark relief the need for racial unity in our neighborhood, in our city. To achieve the goal of advancing racial unity, we have as recently as last Feast been asked by our National Spiritual Assembly to study the guidance on race unity in America. Those writings will be available as attachments to this letter. Virtual gatherings to study this guidance had been planned before George Floyd’s death. May his death impel us to follow through in deepening and study so that we may act on this most pressing issue. May we check in on one another. May we all connect with our families, our neighbors and friends. May we offer prayers together and engage in elevated conversations based on some of the guidance we have been asked to study, such as:
The tensions, divisions, and injustices that currently beset America are symptoms of a longstanding illness. The nation is afflicted with a deep spiritual disorder, manifest in rampant materialism, widespread moral decay, and a deeply ingrained racial prejudice. As a result, millions of our fellow Americans, subject to systemic injustices in many facets of life, are prevented from making their full contributions to society and of partaking fully in its benefits. No one is immune to this disorder―we are all members of this society and to some degree suffer the effects of its maladies. That we live in a critical time can be seen in the way essential questions of identity, social vision, and global relations are being raised to a degree not seen in decades. Increasing numbers of our fellow-citizens are actively in search of solutions both moral and practical to answer them.
The resolution to these challenges lies in recognizing and embracing the truth at the heart of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation―the incontrovertible truth that humanity is one. Ignorance of this truth―which embodies the very spirit of the Age―is itself a form of oppression, for without it, it is impossible to build a truly just and peaceful world. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, from a letter dated February 25, 2017)
After learning of George Floyd’s death, a group of Bahá’ís, mindful of social distancing limits, gathered outside on the grounds of the Bahá’í Center of Minneapolis to offer prayers for his soul and for our community. Many other Bahá’ís held prayer devotionals throughout Minneapolis as the night progressed.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Local Spiritual Assembly met with our Auxiliary Board members to consult on the guidance surrounding racial justice and to consult on possible actions. The Assembly has met multiple times and plans to write a letter to the Mayor of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis City Council, and the Chief of Police expressing our sadness and deep concern, as well as sharing Baha’i spiritual principles underlying racial unity and justice. The Assembly will be consulting with the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs. Over recent years, the Assembly has been reading the guidance mentioned above and consulting about racial justice, and formed a Racial Justice Task Force in April 2020 to make sure that racial justice is addressed in every facet of our activities as Bahá’ís.
As a community, we have long been sharing devotions with our friends and neighbors at the Bahá’í Center; the COVID-19 virus has made this difficult. We will be resuming weekly in-person devotionals, to be held outdoors at the Bahá’í Center, on Sundays at 10:00 AM, weather permitting. These devotions will now center around racial justice. The Assembly is asking everyone attending to wear a mask.
The Riḍván 2020 letter from the National Spiritual Assembly said, “in this final year of the Plan, we ask that every Bahá’í household in the nation undertake the hosting of a regular devotional meeting.” Let us each strive to make this request a reality in Minneapolis. Devotional gatherings are essential; so too is full participation in the framework for action provided in this plan. It is in these spaces, including home visits, children’s classes, and study circles, where we are building community. It is in these spaces where, guided by prayer and spiritual principles, we are having elevated, sometimes difficult, conversations and creating the bonds of friendship which will transform our community. The power of prayer is underlying everything we do. And this institute process provides the framework for action alongside our prayers. Our greatest impact is in changing people’s hearts.
The practice of engaging with our loved ones and neighbors can itself provide opportunities for action. The following quotes from the National Assembly provide us with insight into this practice:
The oneness of humanity is far more than a slogan or an abstract and unattainable ideal. It has profound implications for both personal behavior and for the way society is organized― challenging many current assumptions and revolutionizing our conceptions of the relationships that should exist between the individual, society, and its institutions. Awareness of the spiritual reality of human beings carries with it the moral requirement that all be given every opportunity to fulfill their potential and to contribute to the advancement of civilization. To this end, we have a twofold mission: to develop within our own community a pattern of life that increasingly reflects the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings, and to engage with others in a deliberate and collaborative effort to eradicate the ills afflicting our nation.
...The evils of racism, materialism, and moral decadence will be eradicated only by a love that is translated into action―such actions as deliberately going out of our way to befriend all, appreciating the indispensable contributions of all, and joining hands with all in the creation of a new world. We believe in the fundamental goodness and decency of the masses of our fellow-citizens. We are confident that Americans yearn as we do for spirituality, that they desire genuine justice and prosperity for everyone. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, from a letter dated February 25, 2017)
Lastly, the Assembly leaves you with these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person, whether he be of your family or of another. Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, color or shade of political opinion. Heaven will support you while you work in this ingathering of the scattered peoples of the world beneath the shadow of the almighty tent of unity.
You will be servants of God, who are dwelling near to Him, His divine helpers in the service, ministering to all Humanity. All Humanity! Every human being! Never forget this!
… Remember not your own limitations; the help of God will come to you. Forget yourself. God’s help will surely come!
When you call on the Mercy of God waiting to reinforce you, your strength will be tenfold. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, #9)
Be assured, you are in our prayers and always in our hearts.
In His Service,
LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF MINNEAPOLIS