|Luminous Journey, alternate banquet scene|
Mahmud writes: "A gathering of black Bahá'ís was held at the home of Mrs Kinney. They had been invited by the New York Bahá'ís to attend the banquet of the Covenant but when the proprietor of the hotel heard about it, he was not pleased. The more the friends endeavored to persuade him, the more vehement was his refusal. He said, `If the people see that one colored person has entered my hotel, no respectable person will ever set foot in it and my business will go to the winds.' Such is the depth of prejudice between blacks and whites. Since it was impossible to invite the black Bahá'ís to the banquet, the friends arranged today's feast for their black brothers. Many white women came forward to serve their black guests, showering them with love. The Master approved of this meeting very much and He said:
Today you have carried out the laws of the Blessed Beauty and have truly acted according to the teachings of the Supreme Pen. Behold what an influence and effect the words of Bahá'u'lláh have had upon the hearts, that hating and shunning have been forgotten and that prejudices have been obliterated to such an extent that you arose to serve one another with great sincerity.
The Master's words made a great impression. The meeting embodied the grandeur of the Covenant and demonstrated the power and influence of the Cause in uniting, in sincerity and love, two races of humanity.
In the afternoon the children who had earlier seen the Master on the way from school, had been so attracted and had asked to see Him, came to visit Him. He spoke to them with deep affection and kindness, asking about their health and welfare. To each He gave candies and flowers and then sprinkled them with attar of rose. He then gave them kindly counsels and encouraged them to acquire knowledge, science, good morals and sincerity, saying:
I hope that you will be educated as you ought to be and that each of you will become the pride of your family. May God assist you to acquire divine knowledge in the school of the world of humanity. I shall pray for you and beg assistance for you. Truly, the hearts of the children are very pure. This was why Christ said, `Be ye like children.' Praise be to God who created you illumined children. Praise be to the Lord who hath created His creatures perfectly. God has created you as human beings so that you may daily acquire better morals and human virtues. You must obey your parents so that they may be pleased with you, and so that God will be pleased with you, and that you may become the children of the Kingdom and mirror forth the words of Christ.
Although these young visitors were children, they took their leave in an attitude of sincerity, reverence and attraction that astonished all.
This evening `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at a public meeting of the friends on the underlying unity of creation and the oneness of humanity. His sweet words and explanations attracted the hearts and souls, as in other meetings, leaving them much attached to the Center of the Covenant."
This reparation of the banquet situation brings tears to my eyes! I am filled with thanksgiving for the Master's wisdom. How easy it would have been just to have forgotten those dear African Americans who could not attend the banquet! And how I wish we had their names and those of women who served them! This was before the civil rights movement--and it must have been quite a feeling to cook for and serve those who were treated so poorly at that time--or to be served by those one "normally" served! ah, I wish we had a diary account from someone on either side of that equation! Or a photograph of the banquet. Bless the Kinneys for hosting it!
Don't you love the phrase "the grandeur of the Covenant"? If we could only rise up to embody that grandeur! Oh--we can!