Baha'is rally in Marietta for Race Unity Day
Baha'is rally in Marietta for Race Unity Day
"a community that walks the talk"
Atlanta, GA -- 28 May 1999 -- The Marietta and Cobb County Baha'i
communities invite metro Atlanta to celebrate its diversity in unity on
Race Unity Day from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 12 on the Square in
Marietta. There will be refreshments and fun for the whole family.
Music, guest speakers, face painting and other activities for children
are planned. The celebration is free. For more information, call Joan
Hampton at 770-541-0068.
"The Baha'i Faith is new to most people," explained Joan Hampton, a
Baha'i from Marietta and one of the organizers. "But the most important
thing to remember about the Baha'is is that our religion teaches us that
we are all one human family. One of the central figures of our faith
expressed it best when he referred to all people as flowers from one
garden and leaves from one tree." The goal of the Baha'i community is
to create vibrant communities, celebrating diversity, that are havens
of justice, interracial worship, and are a service to humanity. They
build centers that are places for genuine fellowship and work to raise
A number of guests are expected to speak on Saturday June 12, including
Park Scott, a well-regarded Baha'i from Birmingham, Alabama, James C.
Dodd, Jr., Marietta City Councilman, and Rev. Dorrie Tuggle of the Mt.
Zion Baptist Church. Several performances are also scheduled, including
singer Linda Collestan, the Baha'i Youth Workshop, jazz musician Mr.
John Smith, Cao Li Ming and the Beijing Opera Troupe of Inner Mongolia,
the Unity Gospel Quartet, and poetry reading by Ruha Benjamin. The
Marietta and Cobb County Baha'i Communities are sponsoring the Race Unity
Day festivities. The Cobb County Martin Luther King Support Group among
others will also participate in supporting the event.
While society is often conflicted over the issue of race, the Baha'is
know where they stand; they denounce it straight up. "Race relations in
America are at a crossroads," said Al Viller of the Baha'i Information
Center. "At this critical moment in America's history, the will to work
towards race unity with firm resolve is more important than ever before.
Action motivated by spiritual values such as justice and brotherhood is
the essence of each and every religion. Humanity cannot continue to
harbor racial prejudice in order to progress." To promote racial harmony,
the Baha'is of the United States began sponsoring Race Unity Day in 1957.
"So Powerful is the light of Unity that it can illumine the
whole World" (from the Baha'i writings)
The National Spiritual Assembly, the national governing body of the
Baha'is of the United States, issued a statement entitled "The Vision
of Race Unity." It states, "...In no other country is the promise of
organic unity more immediately demonstrable than in the United States,
because it is a microcosm of the diverse populations of the earth...Yet
this promise remains largely unrealized even here because of the endemic
racism that, like a cancer, is corroding the vitals of the nation."
The Baha'i Faith is an independent world religion with adherents in
virtually every country. More than 2000 ethnic groups and tribes are
represented in Baha'i membership. There are about 5 million Baha'is
worldwide, approximately 133,000 in the United States, and about 2,000
in metro Atlanta.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Race Unity Day was inaugurated in 1957 by the National
Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States (the national
governing body for the U.S. Baha'i community) to promote racial harmony
and understanding. It is sponsored annually, on the second Sunday in June,
by members of the Baha'i Faith throughout the nation. Originally called
"Race Amity Day", the name was changed to Race Unity Day in 1965.
The purpose of this day is to focus attention on what Baha'is believe is
the most challenging moral issue facing this country - racial prejudice.
Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, made the oneness
of humanity under God, and thus the elimination of all forms of prejudice
the central point of His teachings. Expounding on this theme, the Universal
House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'is, in its
1985 address to the peoples of the world, "The Promise of World Peace",
cites racism as one of the major obstacles to achieving world peace:
"Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier
to peace. Its practice perpetrates too outrageous a violation of the
dignity of human beings to be countenanced under any pretext. Racism
retards the unfoldment of the boundless potentialities of its victims,
corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress. Recognition of
the oneness of mankind, implemented by appropriate legal measures, must
be universally upheld if this problem is to be overcome."
U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Racism: The United Nations
inaugurated the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination
of Racism, which is celebrated annually on March 21 by people around the
world. The U.N. has not officially recognized the Baha'i observance of
Race Unity Day.
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