Association for Bahá’í Studies Conference

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Red Summer of 1919 and the American Bahá’í community’s response to racial injustice

A mystical connection exists between the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation and America’s healing & advancement—what W.E.B. Du Bois would call “a new religious ideal” as a guiding star in the dark night and Louis Gregory referred to as the “Most Great Reconstruction”—to realize the oneness of humanity.

Through His Example and unyielding guidance, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would lay the foundation for this “Most Great Reconstruction” and propel the participation of a nascent American Bahá’í community into the most vital social discourse of the time. Red Summer of 1919 and the response of the American Bahá’í community to the anti-Black violence of the period, through the launch of the Race Amity Conventions, will be examined as milestones along this path. By standing at the vanguard of discourse and forging bonds with communities at the center of Black thought, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the American Bahá’í community were engaged in a revolutionary type of social action, refusing to shy away from the most contentious issues of the day.