A path toward a unified America


a yellow square is surrounded by purple irregular shapes, in front of an image of an old image of a large conference
The centenary of the first race amity conference held by the American Bahá’í community was marked by a three-day symposium exploring racial unity and social change.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One hundred years ago, in May, the first race amity conference in the United States was held in Washington, D.C., by the American Bahá’í community, a defining moment on the path toward racial unity in the country.


The description on the program read, in part: “Half a century ago in America slavery was abolished. Now there has arisen need for another great effort in order that prejudice may be overcome. Correction of the present wrong requires no army, for the field of action is the hearts of our citizens.”


To mark the centenary of that historic gathering, the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs brought together academics, civil society leaders, and other social actors for a three-day online symposium titled Advancing Together: Forging a Path Toward a Just, Inclusive and Unified Society.



23 people are shown on a zoom call, majority of them are smiling
Panelists of a three-day online symposium held by the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs titled Advancing Together: Forging a Path Toward a Just, Inclusive and Unified Society.

“For those of us gathered here today, we are conscious that we are engaged in a process aimed at profound organic change in the very structure of society,” said P.J. Andrews of the Office at the gathering.


“The change required to create justice in the country,” he continued, “is not only social and economic but moral and spiritual.”


The latest episode of the Bahá’í World News Service podcast provides highlights from the symposium at which panelists discussed topics including the role of language in fostering a sense of shared identity, the relationship between truth and justice, and the need to address systemic changes in efforts toward social justice.


four images are shown of people getting together and doing various activities together are shown
The discussions at the symposium looked at experiences of the U.S. Bahá’í community in fostering collaboration and strong bonds of friendship among people of diverse backgrounds in neighborhoods across the country. Some of these efforts are pictured here.

Woven throughout the conversations at the gathering was the spiritual principle of the essential oneness of humanity. Drawing on the Bahá’í teachings, May Lample, also of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs, stated: “Any movement that seeks to eradicate all forms of racism from our society has to be predicated on a notion that all human beings are in their essence the same, that they are deserving of dignity, that they possess unique skills and abilities, and that they are worthy of safety and security.


“And without an understanding of our oneness and interconnectedness our differences appear too vast, rather than adding necessary and valuable complexity and beauty to our lives.”


This symposium was part of an ongoing contribution of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs in the United States to the discourse on race unity. Recordings of discussions at the symposium can be viewed here.


an image of an old conference is shown, the image is very yellowed from age
A race amity conference held by the Bahá’í community in Springfield, Massachusetts, shortly after the first one was held in Washington, D.C., in May 1921.

an image of an invite to the national symposium is shown, with panelists underneath
At the symposium, panelists discussed topics including the role of language in fostering a sense of shared identity, the relationship between truth and justice, and the need to address systemic changes in efforts toward social justice.

an image of people sitting down and discussing and taking notes around a long rectangular table are shown
Photograph taken before the current health crisis. This symposium was part of an ongoing contribution of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs in the United States to the discourse on race unity.

Originally published on the Baha'i World News Service

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