Thursday, April 19, 2012

100 Years Ago: April 19, 1912 — 'Abdu'l-Bahá spoke in Earl Hall at Columbia University at 5:00 P.M.

April 19, 1912, New York City: ’Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in Earl Hall at Columbia University, at 5:00 p.m.  It was his last day in New York before leaving for Washington and Chicago.  He told His audience "It is our duty to put forth our greatest efforts ad summon all our energies in order that the bonds of unity and accord may be established among mankind."
p. 36 - 239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, ©1979,  National Spiritual  Assembly of the  Bahá’ís of the United States

April 20, 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left New York City early for Washington DCa five-hour railroad trip. 
p. 38 239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L Ward, ©1979
That evening He spoke at a public library to some 400 people and at five reporters.

Agnes Parsons in Washington, had received a telegram from the Master saying that He and His translator would come and stay at the house of the Parson’s, Agnes Parson and her husband, Jeffrey. Other members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entourage lived in a rented house in the city during this time. 

                                       Background concerning the Bahá'í community in Washington, D.C. 

it ... was home to the most diverse Bahá’í community in North America: it had within its fold a large group of African-Americans, and virtually all social classes—from the working poor to the social elite were represented in it.  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 (Agnes Parsons’ 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)                                        
NOTE: 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. 
                                                            #6, p. xvi
NOTE: Agnes Parsons’ careful documentation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s meetings with prominent figures of the day alone ensures the importance of her diary’s account as a source for the study of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s American travels, the reconstruction of the full details of which will challenge those future historians of the Bahá’í Faith to whom Shoghi Effendi assigns the important task of examining the processes which led to the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in the New World. (Book Footnote #52).
                                                            #6, p. xviii.
Abdul Baha has His meals  as follows:
            7 A.M. Tea and bread
            1:30 P.M. Dines with the family
            4 P.M. Tea
            7:30 P.M. Sits with the family at dinner but partakes of no food Himself
            10: P.M. Simple meal
                                                            #6, p. 13
NOTE: See Juanita Storch diary (partial)  in World Order, Vol. 25, no 1, Fall 1993, pp. 25-42.

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