#101 – 100 Years Ago — Continuing brief notes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s activity in the process of bringing these notes in harmony with dates of His actual travels. (29 April, 1912, 30 April, 1912,)

Chicago

 

 29 April, 1912, Monday, Chicago ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived Monday evening by train from New York City, his nineteenth day in America. He stayed at the Plaza Hotel next to Lincoln Park (North of ‘the Loop’ near Lake Michigan. He said “I like Chicago more, because the first voice of Bahá’u’lláh was raised from this city.”ntroduced Him to an audience far exceeding the auditorium’s seating capacity of 750. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Hull House, many children and unemployed men crowded around to meet Him; to each He gave coins.                            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, p. 48

 

30 April, 1912, Tuesday, Chicago: ‘Abdu’l Bahá was welcomed by Jane Addams to Hull House and i

From Hull House ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went by car to Handel Hall to speak to the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which had been discussing lynching and job and housing discrimination. His talk included this statement: “Therefore be it known that color or race is of no importance. . . . Man is not man simply because of bodily attributes. The standard of divine measure and judgment is his intelligence and spirit. (Footnote 2,.)

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, pp 48-49

From Handel Hall ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Drill Hall in the Masonic Temple where two thousand people rose as He entered.  He spoke to them about building the Bahá’í House of Worship.  Major newspapers covered the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence.

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, pp 49-50

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#100 – 100 Years Ago in Washington D.C.: Brief notes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s activity from 23 April 1912, 24 April,

25 April, 26 April, 27 April  and 28 April when He leaves Washington, D.C. for His first visit to Chicago.

 Please note:  As our messages about the activities of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are ‘out of synch’ with His travels in real time, we are forwarding this collection of ‘notes’ so that readers may be fully aware of where He is staying and speaking. 

 We hope this will help those readers who are compiling their own notebooks of His activities based on these notes. 

 We may need to follow this pattern for a few more issues.  

With apologies —– 

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23 April, 1912: At the end of the Parsons’ reception  (where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá introduced Louis Gregory to Washington society) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá  went to Washington and M Street N.W. to the large Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church,  where the auditorium was taxed to capacity with people waiting to hear Him speak to the Bethel Literary and Historical Society, to which He afterward made a contribution. Late that night, before going to rest, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the friends, “We must offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty, because it is His help that has stirred the people. . . .

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, p.42

24 April, 1912, (Wednesday) Washington D.C. .

Wednesday morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at “Studio Hall” (1219 Connecticut Avenue) at a reception for children which opened with songs by the children.

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, p 40-41

At noon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Mrs. Parsons and small group were driven to the Arlington Cemetery. But while waiting for their carriage they walked up 18th St. nearly to J Street. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed an electric motor (automobile) on the other side of the street,stopped, remarked about it and asked the price. Mr. Mason Remey, part of the walking group, said he would find out.

In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to “a meeting of colored and white people at Mrs. Dyers and later to Mr. Alexander Graham Bell’s,” his 3rd meeting of the day.

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996 pg. 43-44

25 April, 1912 (Thursday), Washington, D.C.:  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in the morning at the Parson’s home with a group of Theosophists. Following this a group of Esperantists came.

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, pp 44-45

In the evening they dined at the Turkish Embassy.

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996 , p 47-49

26 April, 1912, (Friday), Washington, D.C.: In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at the All Souls Unitarian Church to the woman’s Alliance. Mrs. John J. White asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak with a few people at her home for lunch. The Turkish Ambassador was to be with them.

Later, before dinner at a quarter to five, He spoke in the Parson’s large room with a number of people who filled it.

After dinner He spoke at the Memorial Continental Hall, the public hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution, an elite social organization.

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996, pp 46-52 
27 April, 1912, Saturday, Washington, D.C.: At lunch at the Parson’s home ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talked about the proper method of taxation. (See text of talk in Foundations of World Unity, pp. 38-43.)

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996 , p. 53, 54.

28 April, 1912, Sunday, Washington, D.C.: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá leaves Washington D.C.  at 5:30 PM for his first visit to Chicago.  (He will return May 8.)

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,, p, 46 ,pg. xiii;

  Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996 pg. xiii: 

He visited the Turkish Ambassador accompanied by Mrs. Parsons. Late in the day he left Washington D.C. by train traveling to New York City.

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996, p 57-59 

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#99 – 100 Years Ago — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Washington D.C.’assaulted the customs of a city that was racially segregated.’ (Part 2 of 2.)

(Continuing) 23 April, 1912, Tuesday, Washington D.C.: Following the talk at Howard University ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Dr. Fareed were taken to Mm. Khan’s for lunch; Mrs. Parsons also lunched with the party.  There were nineteen present besides ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, these being the names that I recall[:] Mirza Alí Kulí Khan [a Bahá’í and chargé d’Affaires of the Persian Legation in the capital city], Mme. Khan [and] two children, Mrs. Breede, Mrs. Severance, Mrs. Goodall, Mrs. Cooper, Miss A. Dorr, Dr. Getsinger, Dr. Fareed, Mírza Sohrab, Miss Juliet Thompson, Mr. [Louis] Gregory, Mr. Remey and myself. A Persian meal was served. The flowers were lovely, rose leaves having been strewn over the table.

NOTE: A Footnote to this entry states: Mrs. Parsons discreetly avoids mentioning here that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá broke with contemporary social conventions of racial separation by insisting the Louis Gregory, a prominent African-American Bahá’í, attend this luncheon in segregated Washington, D.C.—even though he had not been invited.

Harlan Ober tells the story. . . . “Just an hour before the luncheon  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent word to Louis Gregory that he might come to Him for the promised conference. Louis arrived at the appointed time, and the conference went on and on; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá seemed to want to prolong it. When luncheon was announced, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá led the way and all followed Him into the dining room, except Louis.

“All were seated when suddenly ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stood up, looked around and then said to Mirza Khan, Where is Mr. Gregory? Bring Mr. Gregory! There was nothing for Mirza Khan to do but find Mr.Gregory, who fortunately had not yet left the house, but was quietly waiting for a chance to do so. Finally Mr. Gregory came into the room with Mírza Khan.

’Abdu’l-Bahá, Who was really the Host (as He was wherever He was), had by this time rearranged the place setting and made room for for Mr. Gregory. giving him the seat of honor at His right. He stated He was very pleased to have Mr. Gregory there, and then, in the most natural way as if nothing unusual happened, proceeded to give a talk on the oneness of mankind.”  (Also see The Bahá’í World, Vol. XII, [Wilmette, Ill. Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1956]   p. 608.)    pp 31, 33

Juliet Thompson wrote: “Gently yet unmistakably, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had assaulted the customs of a city that had been scandalized only a decade earlier by President Roosevelt’s dinner invitation to Booker T. Washington. Moreover as a friend who helped Madame Khan with the luncheon recalled, the place setting that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rearranged so casually had been made according to the strict demands of Washington protocol. Thus, with one stroke ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had swept away both segregation by race and categorization by social rank.

To Move The World, Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of RacialUnity in America,  by Gayle Morrison,© 1982 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, Bahá’í Publishing Trust,   Wilmette, IL,USA  pp 53, 5

NOTE: According to Louis Gregory, among the persons who met with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at this time were Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, and an Italian duke. See Louis Gregory, “Some Recollections of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Faith in Washington, D.C.L.” p. 13 (in the Washington D.C.L. Bahá’í Archives).  Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996  p. 34 footnotes

It was at this luncheon that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arranged the chairs at the dining table so that Louis Gregory could join all of the guests but sitting at the place of honor at the right of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

 To Move The World, Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of Racial Unity in America, by Gayle Morrison,© 1982 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the  United Staes, Bahá’í Publishing Trust,   Wilmette, IL,USA, p, 52

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to two other groups that day. One of about 30 or 40 after lunch; they had been waiting in another room. Later at Mrs. Parson’s, about 250 were present.  After dinner He spoke at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church on M Street N.W. to members of the Bethel Literary and Historical Society—the leading black organization in Washington D.C.

The luncheon was joined by Juliet Thompson who had just arrived from Washington, D. C. Bahá’í Ali-Kuli Khan, the Chargé d’Affaires for the Persian Legation was acting as minister at the time of His visit. (He is the father or Marzieh Gail.)   Among the distinguished guests were Admiral Peary and Alexander Graham Bell.

“A delicious thing happened when the Master greeted Peary, who has just succeeded in publicly disgracing Captain Cook and proving himself, and not Captain Cook, the discoverer of the North Pole. At that moment, in the Embassy,  he looked like a blown-up balloon.

“I [Juliet Thompson] was standing beside the Master when Khan brought the Admiral over and introduced him.

“The Master spoke charmingly to him and congratulated him on his discovery. Then, with the utmost sweetness, added these surprising words: For a very long time the world had been much concerned about the North Pole, where it was and what was to be found there. Now he, Admiral Peary, had discovered it and that nothing was to be found there; and so, in forever relieving the public mind, he had rendered a great service.

“I shall never forget Peary’s nonplussed face. The balloon collapsed!”

“Immediately after the Khan’s reception, Mrs. Parsons too had a large one for the Master, to which Diyá Páshá came with them.”

At Mrs. Parsons: After this first reception, the Master spoke daily in the afternoon and the whole fashionable world flocked to hear Him.

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#98 – 100 Years Ago – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá speaks at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Part 1 of 2.

23 April, 1912, Tuesday, Washington, D.C.: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made a talk at Howard University, one of the foremost black universities. He was introduced by the President of the University  as “the prophet of peace and the herald of love and prosperity.”  “Well over a thousand students, faculty members, administrators, and guests jammed Rankin Chapel where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá presented His memorable address at Howard University. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá dwelt upon the need for love and unity between the white and black races and spoke of the gratitude which the colored people  should feel for the whites,  because. through them came not only freedom for their race, but it was the beginning of freedom for all slaves. He also told them that through education the differences between the two races would be lessened.  (#4, p. 40; #6,p. 29)

Re: Howard University: Founded in 1867 to educate newly freed slaves, Howard University was by 1912 one of the foremost black universities in the country. Since this was an era of segregation in America society, the students were all African Americans.   #6, p. 29, Footnote 43 (talk can be found in Promulgation of  Universal Peace, pp. 44-46).

Joseph Hannen records: “On Tuesday, April 23rd, at noon, Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the student-body of more than 1,000, the faculty and a large number of distinguished guests, at Howard University.  This was a most notable occasion, and here, as everywhere when both white and colored people were present, Abdu’l-Bahá seemed happiest. The address was received with breathless attention by the vast audience, and was followed by a positive ovation and a recall.” (Hannen, “Abdu’l-Bahá in Washington, D.C.” p. 7. #6, p. 29, Footnote 44

“Abdu’l-Bahá spoke often of unity during those first days in America, in New York and then in Washington, D.C. . . . But it was in the capital on 23 April, with Louis Gregory at His side, that He first confronted—both in public addresses and in a social context—the issue of racial unity. Indeed, the Washington Bee, a black newspaper, called attention to the relationship between ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Louis Gregory in an article it published concerning   ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit:

………… Joseph Hannen records: “On Tuesday, April 23rd, at noon, Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the student-body of more than 1,000, the faculty and a large number of distinguished guests, at Howard University.  This was a most notable occasion, and here, as everywhere when both white and colored people were present, Abdu’l-Bahá seemed happiest. The address was received with breathless attention by the vast audience, and was followed by a positive ovation and a recall.” (Hannen, “Abdu’l-Bahá in Washington, D.C.” p. 7. #6, p. 29, Footnote 44

“Abdu’l-Bahá spoke often of unity during those first days in America, in New York and then in Washington, D.C. . . . But it was in the capital on 23 April, with Louis Gregory at His side, that He first confronted—both in public addresses and in a social context—the issue of racial unity. Indeed, the Washington Bee, a black newspaper, called attention to the relationship between ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Louis Gregory in an article it published concerning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit:

 “Abdul Baha Abbas, the leader of the Baha movement for the world-wide religious unity, has been in the city. Through the missionary work of Mrs. Christian D. Hemick (Mrs. A. C. Barney that was), quite a colony of colored Bahaists has been developed in Washington, and these earnest disciples gave their patron  saint an especially warm reception. On Tuesday evening the venerable prophet addressed a large audience at  Metropolitan 

A. M. E. Church, in connection  with the Bethel Literary Society. At noon Tuesday, [the] Abdul spoke to the students of Howard University. the principal advocate of the Bahai faith in this city is Mr. Louis C. [sic] Gregory, a brilliant young lawyer and government official, whose zeal in the work was so absorbing that he made a comprehensive tour of Egypt and the Holy Land to study at first hand the  history and philosophy of this remarkable cult. . .”

“Mr. Gregory undoubtedly had been instrumental in arranging for these two major speaking engagements, as he was an alumnus of Howard University’s law school, had been for years a leader in the Bethel Literary and Historical  Association, and had arranged a number of Bahá’í meetings under its sponsorship. In the Howard speech ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated unequivocally that color is of no importance either before God or in any of the kingdoms of existence—animal, vegetable, or mineral—except as an ‘adornment,’ a source of ‘charm.’ Only among human beings has it been a cause of discord. He was happy,  He declared, to see whites and blacks together in the meeting as a step toward unity, ‘for the accomplishment of unity between the colored and whites will be an assurance of the world’s peace. Then racial prejudice, national prejudice, limited patriotism and religious bias will pass away and remain no longer.” (Footnote 8 – Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 41-43.)

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#97 – 100 Years Ago — Receptions are held for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá every afternoon at Agnes Parson’s home

22 April, 1912, Monday, Washington D.C.:

NOTE: “In his account Joseph Hannen explains: “Receptions were held at the home of Mrs. Parsons every afternoon at about 5:00 o’clock, from Monday to Friday, inclusive. The large parlor, seating 150, was crowded each afternoon, and the interest grew as the week advanced. Many persons prominent in social, official, and diplomatic circles were present, besides numbers of well-known men and women of literary and scientific attainments.” Hannen, ’Abdu’l-Bahá in Washington, D.C. p.7;  Agnes Parson’s Diary,©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996, p. 23.

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#96 – 100 Years Ago – In Washington D. C.’Abdu’l-Bahá gave a talk and visited the Library of Congress

21 April, 1912, Sunday, Washington D.C.: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked at eleven o’clock to Studio Hall on Connecticut Avenue where He gave an address.(see page 15 ) Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996

At 4 o’clock, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went with Dr. Fareed and Agnes Parsons to the Universalist Church. ‘There were reported to be over 1,000 persons in the church on this date, most of whom remained after the service to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.’ ( Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Diary  footnote #54, ). Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996 , p. 18

Although having a full day, when a visit to the Library of Congress was mentioned, in order to see it lighted, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said ”Let us go tonight.” With the cooperation of the Superintendent the building lights remained on and no doors were locked so that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had an opportunity to see the building thoroughly.

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Los Angeles, 1996 , p. 21

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#95 – 100 Years Ago – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited Washington D.C. from 20-28 April, 1912.

20-28 April 1912: Washington, D.C.

20 April, 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left New York City early for Washington DC. It was a 5 1/2 hour train trip.   (#5 p. 267)  #4, p. 38.)

That evening He spoke at a public library to some 400 people and  five reporters.

NOTE: 

Re: 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. (Footnote #15 —  Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press,  p. xv)

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.

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, 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).

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press,

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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