June 1909- Louis Gregory Joins the Bahá’í Faith
Louis Gregory’s education at the Avery Institute and Normal School (now Avery Research Center), Fisk University, and Howard University’s School of Law established him as one of the “Talented Tenth,” W.E.B. DuBois’ term for the capable, educated African Americans of the time.
Gregory first learned about the Bahá’í Faith in 1907 through a Southern white couple, Joseph and Pauline Hannen, who showed Gregory sincere love and respect born out of their own religious faith.
Abdu’l-Bahá wrote in 1909 in reply to Gregory’s first letter to Him, “I hope that thou mayest become . . . the means whereby the white and colored people shall close their eyes to racial differences and behold the reality of humanity.”
On September 27, 1912, Louis Gregory married a white English Baha’i, Louisa (Louise) A. M. Mathew. It was the first interracial marriage in the American Bahá’í community and a tremendously significant act, considering that interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 states as recent as the 1960’s. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged the marriage, telling Gregory, “If you have any influence to get the races to intermarry, it will be very valuable”
Gregory holds an esteemed place in Bahá’í history for many reasons, including his election to the first National Spiritual Assembly of the US (1922) and his appointment posthumously as Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi (1951).