[Chicago: personal meetings; newspaper reporters; Hull House; NAACP; Convention]
An exciting day--and the day before the Temple ground is dedicated!
Mahmud notes: "Several friends and inquirers gathered in one of the rooms of `Abdu'l-Bahá's suite and went in two or three at a time to speak with Him through an interpreter. Each returned transformed, soaring high in the atmosphere of happiness and joy. A few newspaper reporters were announced and He addressed them [on the subject of Bahá'u'lláh as the supreme educator, the unity of humankind, and some of the Baha'i principles. AP]
"In addition to the visits of large numbers of people at the hotel both day and night, three large meetings were held, attended by almost three thousand people, all of whom were honored to see `Abdu'l-Bahá. The first meeting was held at Hull House and was attended by both blacks and whites. [Jane Addams, a sociologist and vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, founded Hull House in 1889. She also knew Sarah Farmer, who probably visited her in Chicago in 1893. Does anyone know anything else about Addams' connection with the Faith? AP] The Master spoke on the subject of the unity and oneness of humanity; that God has given faculties and powers equally to all and that the different colors of humankind are like the various colors of the flowers of a garden, which increases the beauty and charm of the garden. His eloquent and impressive talk thrilled His listeners." [See PUP 67–69.]
Mahmud continues, first with a sad commentary about racism in America but then with the evidence of race "mingling"because of the Faith:
"There exists among the whites in America a marked animosity for the blacks, who are held in such low esteem that the whites do not allow them to attend their public functions and think it beneath their dignity to mix with them in some of the public buildings and hotels. One day, Dr Zia Bagdadi invited Mr [Louis] Gregory, a black Bahá'í, to his home. When his landlord heard about this, he gave notice to Dr Bagdadi to vacate his residence because he had had a black man in his home. Although such prejudice was intense, the influence of the Cause of God and the power of God's Covenant is so great that in many cities in America hundreds of black and white Bahá'ís mingle together and associate with each other as brothers and sisters.
"Another meeting was held at Handel Hall especially to bring together the blacks and the whites. [`Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. See PUP 69–70.]
The Master offered a commentary on a verse from the Old Testament, `Let us make man in our image, after our likeness': `By "image and likeness"', He said, `is meant human virtues and perfections and not the black or white color of the skin.' The Master's impressive talk transformed and deeply affected the gathering.
"The Master then went to a third meeting, addressing some two thousand people at the Convention of the Bahá'í Temple Unity held at the spacious Drill Hall. [The final session. See PUP 65–67.] The entire audience stood when the Master entered, even though not all were Bahá'ís. The friends were full of excitement and cried `Alláh-u-Abhá' so loudly that the hall resounded with their voices.
"After a song of praise and glorification, the Master gave a detailed and eloquent talk on the purpose of the Temple and the unification of all under one standard. He concluded His talk by chanting a prayer in Persian in a most melodious voice. Some of those attending the convention met Him outside and asked whether they could visit Him at His residence. The crowd gathered around Him until He got into His carriage."
Can you imagine the thrill of so many people calling out the Greatest Name in that gathering? I can picture the exciting reverberations--so different than the tenor of most of our meetings and conventions now. How can we bring Him back? "My invitation will be the unity of the friends. . . ." Hm.
Must find out more about all of these connections. Oh--here's something Gayle Morrison points out, re. the NAACP: "In its journal, The Crisis, W.E.B. DuBois, who was serving as editor, printed both her version of the text of the Master's talk, which appears also to include passages from the Hull House talk, and a general account of the convention. DuBois mentioned 'the calm sweet universalism of `Abdu'l-Bahá' and the large audience at that session, when 'a thousand disappointed people were unable to get even standing room in the hall.'" (TMTW 55)
I can picture Louis Gregory (and other Baha'is) going to Chicago and following the Master to all of the meetings of this day, but DeBois? Amazing! DuBois had previously spent time at Green Acre. I wish we had more information about his time there. Does anyone know more about his connections with the Faith?
_______ Notes and resources:
Jane Addams became the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize (1931). She was also a charter member of the NAACP. She is most known for her progressive work to improve the lot of women and children and to foster the cause of peace. Seeing her with a "peace" banner makes me wonder if she had been to Green Acre and had seen Sarah Farmer's peace flag.
Here's a book that might be worth pursuing on the subject of Hull House and so forth:
1912 Election & 20 Years at Hull House & Black Protest & Scopes Trial [Paperback] Brett Flehinger (Author), Jane Addams (Author), Eric Arnesen (Author), Jeffrey P. Moran (Author), Victoria Bissell Brown (Editor)
And this is available online: Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes. by Jane Addams (1860-1935). New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912 (c.1910) see: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/addams/hullhouse/hullhouse.html
Also, a youtube video on Jane Addams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R6GajHiJyk&feature=related
Papers of NAACP: http://academic.lexisnexis.com/documents/upa_cis/1420_PapersNAACPPart11SerA-2.pdf