This month we invite you to take a virtual tour of the first Bahá’í museum in the United States and the first museum in Charleston, South Carolina, to honor a single individual. Dedicated in 2003, the museum is located at 2 Desportes Court in the heart of the Charleston peninsula in an historic house into which Gregory and his family moved when he was a youth.
Louis G. Gregory, born in 1874, was a successful lawyer and one of the early black intellectuals coming to terms with racism and race relations in the early years of the twentieth century.
After he became a Bahá’í in 1909, Gregory dedicated his life to three activities: (1) teaching the Bahá’í Faith, especially to African Americans; (2) furthering the development of the emerging Bahá’í administration, being appointed to committees and elected to Bahá’í governing bodies, including the first national governing body of the Bahá’ís in the United States and Canada in 1922; and (3) promoting race unity, his life’s work.
When Gregory died in 1951, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, mourned the “beloved, noble-minded, golden hearted Louis Gregory” and posthumously appointed him a Hand of the Cause of God, the first of his race to be so honored.
Gregory has since been memorialized by having a number of institutions named for him: several schools in Africa; the Louis G. Gregory Bahá’í Institute in Hemingway, South Carolina; the radio station, WLGI, also in Hemingway, South Carolina; and the Louis G. Gregory Cottage at Green Acre Bahá’í School, Eliot, Maine.
Gregory’s childhood home, turned into the Louis G. Gregory Museum, includes a prayer room and the following:
- A portrait of Louis G. Gregory
- His 1891 high school diploma
- His 1896 diploma from Fisk University
- His 1902 license to practice law (he graduated from the School of Law of Howard University in 1902)
- Photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Gregory, whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged to marry during His trip to North America in 1912
- A 1922 photograph of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, to which Gregory was elected
- Historical documents
- Personal mementos of Mr. Gregory
- Correspondence between Shoghi Effendi and Louis G. Gregory
The Museum’s dedication drew some 300 people. The dedication program included a multicultural arts presentation, two workshops on race relations, a tour of the museum and nearby sites important to Mr. Gregory, and a devotional gathering.
The Louis G. Gregory Bahá’í Museum is open for tours by appointment.
To learn more about the Hand of the Cause of God Louis G. Gregory, see
- Website: http://louisgregorymuseum.org/
- Website: http://www.bahai-encyclopedia-project.org/, then “A Selection of Articles,” then “Gregory, Louis George.”
- Morrison, Gayle. To Move the World: Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of Racial Unity in America (Wilmette, IL, 1982: Bahá’í Publishing Trust).