Category Archives: Civil Rights Era

1963

The First Universal House of Justice

The principle of unity in diversity is reflected throughout the worldwide Bahá’í community.  The first Universal House of Justice (UHJ), the supreme governing institution of the Bahá’í Faith, was elected in 1963 by delegates from 56 National Spiritual Assemblies. The nine members chosen that year by secret ballot came from four continents, represented three major religious backgrounds (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim), and were of several different ethnic origins.  One of the members elected at this time was Amoz Gibson, a Black Bahá’í from the U.S.

Members_of_the_first_Universal_House_of_Justice,_elected_in_1963

Photo Courtesy of the Bahá'í International Community

(L to R) Charles Wolcott, Amoz E. Gibson, Hushmand Fatheazam, Hugh E. Chance, H. Borrah Kavelin, Ian C. Semple, Lutfu’llah Hakim, David Hofman, Ali Nakhjavani

Amoz Gibson became an active member of the Washington D.C. Bahá’í Community in 1946.  He was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Washington D.C. and served as treasurer and later as chairman.  He was also on regional committees and was elected as national convention delegate.  In 1959, Gibson was appointed to the Auxiliary Board for protection; and in 1960, he was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States.  He served and traveled all over the world, including the Navajo reservation in Arizona and New Mexico, Uganda, Holland, France, Italy, Mexico and Iran.

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Filed under Civil Rights Era, D.C. Bahá'í History, Universal House of Justice

1957

The NSA of the Bahá’ís of the US Inaugurate Race Unity Day

IN 1957, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States designated the second sunday in June as Race Unity Day.  The purpose of Race Unity Day is to promote racial harmony and understanding and to focus attention on racial prejudice, which Bahá’ís believe is the most challenging moral issue facing our nation.  Since then, communities throughout the country have held celebrations, open to the public, every year on the second Sunday in June.

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Blount County’s 2009 Race Unity Day Celebration, Photo Courtesy of http://www.thedailytimes.com

Bahá’ís Celebrate Negro History Week

Negro History Bulletin 21 (1 Oct. 1957) reports:”Bahá’ís Report Successful Nationwide Negro History Week Observance”.  Started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, Negro History Week was the precursor to Black History Month.

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Filed under Civil Rights Era, NSA

1950

Sweatt v. Painter Successfully Challenges the Separate but Equal Doctrine of Racial Segregation

Heman Sweatt

Heman Sweatt, Image Courtesy of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States

Heman Marion Sweatt was an African-American Bahá’í from Houston, Texas who was refused admission to the University of Texas School of Law at Austin in 1946 on the grounds that the Texas State Constitution prohibited integrated education.

Mr. Thurgood Marshall, then a top lawyer for the NAACP, took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s affirmative ruling in 1950 on Mr. Sweatt’s case helped lead to the end of ‘official’ racial discrimination in public schools and was a precursor for Brown v. Board of Education. Mr. Marshall wrote to Heman Sweatt, “If it had not been for your courage and your refusal to be swayed by others, this victory would not have been possible.”

A commemorative plaque in honor of Mr. Sweatt outside the District Court room in the Court House where the decision was made denying Mr. Sweatt permission to enroll in the Law School.

Court House Display

Image courtesy the Baha'is of Austin, Texas

On October October 21, 2005, the Travis County Court House in Austin, TX was renamed after Mr. Sweatt.

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Image courtesy the Baha'is of Austin, TX

Info courtesy Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweatt_v._Painter) and the official website for the Baha’is of the US (http://www.bahai.us/Sweatt)

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Filed under Civil Rights Era, NAACP