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African American Women in the Bahá'í Faith: Intersectionality, Myths and Restorative History

Apr 4, 2021

“History is a powerful instrument. At its best, it provides a perspective on the past and casts a light on the future. It populates human consciousness with heroes, saints and martyrs whose example awakens in everyone touched by it capacities they had not imagined they possessed.”

Century of Light (pages 65-83)

This presentation highlights the teaching experiences of early African American Bahá’is with a special focus on the contributions of African American women. Drawing on oral histories and archival documents, this talk highlights African Americans’ courageous efforts and sacrifices in advancing the Cause of God in the U.S. and abroad. What can we learn from the relatively unknown history of black Baha’is to assist us in exploiting this “moment of historic portent”** for the good of mankind and the establishment of race unity?


**”A moment of historic portent has arrived for your nation as the conscience of its citizenry has stirred, creating possibilities for marked social change.”

Letter from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’is of the U.S. (July 22, 2020)

Contributors

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Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis

Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis, Ph.D. is professor of English and Director of the Linguistics Program at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She is the founder and director of Dream Keepers, a college readiness program for underserved high school students in the greater Cincinnati area. Dr. Etter-Lewis serves on the Local Spiritual Assembly of West Chester, Twp, Ohio and is a faculty member at the Wilmette Institute where she co-teaches a course on Anti-Black Racism in the U.S: The Most Vital and Challenging Issue. She has published several books and articles including Lights of the Spirit: Historical Portraits of Black Bahá'ís in North America, 1898-2000, co-authored with Dr. Richard Thomas.

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