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 prejudice-free children.

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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