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.
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.