Prejudice

As part of the American South, Washington, D.C. was also a city in which racial segregation was a fact of life, and it was on the issue of racial equality that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was most uncompromising during his visit to America. On one occasion which is mentioned briefly in this diary ‘Abdu’l-Bahá shocked some of the white socialites present by insisting that Louis Gregory, an African-American Bahá’í and lawyer, be seated next to him at a society luncheon. In such a milieu, the Bahá’ís found it challenging to comply with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s instruction that they should hold racially integrated meetings. Even locating a public site for a community dinner honoring ‘Abdu’l-Bahá proved difficult, since no hotels in the city would allow an integrated meeting.
(Agnes Parson’s Diary, 1996, Kalimát Press, Footnote #15)


There is scarcely a mention of any of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talks at the homes of Andrew Dyer and Joseph Hannen, both of which were sites of racially integrated meetings for the Washington, D. C. Bahá’í community, (Book Footnote #18) or at African -American venues, such as the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, presumably because Mrs. Parsons did not attend most of these events. Such activities were not part of the social world in which she lived. It is remarkable, then, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá chose Agnes Parsons to spearhead the Racial Amity campaign initiated by the Bahá’í community and just as remarkable that she transcended her social milieu in order to carry out this mandate.
(Agnes Parson’s Diary, 1996, Kalimát Press, Footnote #6, p. xvi)


Lauded and glorified art Thou, O Lord, my God! How can I make mention of Thee, assured as I am that no tongue, however deep its wisdom, can befittingly magnify Thy name’ nor can the bird of the human heart, however great its longing, ever hope to ascend into the heaven of Thy majesty and knowledge. If I describe Thee, O my God, as Him Who is the All-Perceiving, I find myself compelled to admit that They Who are the highest Embodiments of perception have been created by virtue of Thy behest. And if I extol Thee as Him
Who is the All-Wise, I, likewise, am forced to recognise that the Well Springs of wisdom have themselves been generated through the operation of Thy Will. And if I proclaim Thee as the Incomparable One, I soon discover that they Who are the inmost essence of oneness have been sent down by Thee and are but the evidences of Thine handiwork. And if I acclaim Thee as the Knower of all things, I must confess that they Who are the Quintessence of knowledge are but the creation and instruments of Thy Purpose. Exalted, immeasurably exalted, art Thou above the strivings of mortal man to unravel Thy mystery, to describe Thy glory, or even to hint at the nature of Thine Essence. For whatever such strivings may accomplish, they never can hope to transcend the limitations imposed upon Thy creatures, inasmuch as these efforts are actuated by Thy decree,
and are begotten of Thine invention. The loftiest sentiments which the holiest of saints can express in praise of Thee, and the deepest wisdom which the most learned of men can utter in their attempts to comprehend Thy nature, all revolve around that Centre Which is wholly subjected to Thy sovereignty, Which adoreth Thy Beauty, and is propelled through the movement of Thy Pen. Nay, forbid it, O my God, that I should have uttered such words as must of necessity imply the existence of any direct relationship between the Pen of Thy Revelation and the essence of all created things. Far, far are They Who are related to Thee above the conception of such relationship! All comparisons and likenesses fail to do justice to the Tree of Thy Revelation, and every way is barred to the comprehension of the Manifestation of Thy Self and the Day Spring of Thy Beauty. Far, far from Thy glory be what mortal man can affirm of Thee, or attribute unto Thee, or the praise with which he can glorify Thee! Whatever duty Thou hast prescribed unto Thy servants of extolling to the utmost Thy majesty and glory is but a token of Thy grace unto them, that they may be enabled to ascend unto the station conferred upon their own inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves. No one else besides Thee hath, at any time, been able to fathom Thy mystery, or befittingly to extol Thy greatness.
Unsearchable and high above the praise of men wilt Thou remain for ever. There is none other God but Thee, the Inaccessible, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Holy of Holies.
(Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, p. 199-200)