The Baton Rouge Baha’i community says it is hosting a “weekend dedicated to enjoying the diversity in our community and focusing on the benefits of unity” in conjunction with Race Unity Day.
The events include a movie night, an interfaith service and a picnic.
Patrick Garrett, one of the event planners, said, “Racial unity is a part of what we do year round. We work with the Interfaith Federation and many of their activities. In January we celebrated World Religion Day.”
That committment to spiritual and racial unity starts with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i, the governing body of the Baha’is of the United States, which issued a 1991 statement that started, “Racism is the most challenging issue confronting America. A nation whose ancestry includes every people on earth, whose motto is E pluribus unum, whose ideals of freedom under law have inspired millions throughout the world, cannot continue to harbor prejudice against any racial or ethnic group without betraying itself.”
The Associated Press Stylebook describes the Baha’i as “A monotheistic religion founded in the 1860s by Baha’u’llah, a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by the Baha’is.
“Baha’u’llah taught that all religions represent progressive stages in the revelation of God’s will, leading to the unity of all people and faiths.”
In a news release, the local Baha’i group recounts the long history the religion has had affirming racial equality in the United States. It includes:
1912: Baha’u’llah’s son and appointed successor, Abdu’l-Baha, used a nine-month tour of the United States to emphasize the necessity of race unity.
1914: Before many states allowed it, the first Baha’i interracial marriage in the United States took place.
1921: The National Spiritual Assembly held a series of race conferences in Washington, D.C.
1957: The national Baha’ i group started Race Unity Day, celebrated annually on the second Sunday in June.
7:30 P.M. SATURDAY: A discussion will follow a family football movie that features racial tension. The movie is at Baha’i Faith Unity Center, 4270 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge.
10:30 A.M. SUNDAY: Garrett said that a service at the Baha’i Faith Unity Center will feature “scripture from all the major religions and readings that promote harmony, peace and the elimination of racial prejudice.”
5 P.M. ? 8 P.M. SUNDAY: A Race Unity Celebration! Picnic will be at Stanford Park (Baton Rouge Beach), 901 Stanford Ave. If it rains, the event will move to the Baha’i Faith Unity Center.
The free event will have music and food as well as a activites to show the difference between skin color and racial prejudice.
Send ideas to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or email email@example.com.