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Learner uses course materials to enhance community gatherings

Sep 28, 2021
Elsie Austin cover slide

Course: Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society (Summer 2021)
Faculty Mentor: Carol Mansour

by Nicola Daniels

One of the west coast participants in our course on Anti-Black Racism emailed the Wilmette Institute some information on community projects arising from the course and from continuing study of materials that the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the US has shared on the topic of racial justice. This community is on the West coast, and consists of about thirty active Bahá’ís. Here are some of the activities they have recently undertaken.

1) A book club to study selected texts on the topic of racial justice.

2) An initiative to regularly include African and African-American music in the devotional portion of 19 day Feasts and other gatherings.

3) A series of slide shows on the lives of some of the early African American Bahá’ís, which are being shared during the consultation portion of 19 day Feasts.

The slide shows were researched and prepared by different community members. An image of one slide from each slide show is shared below. The series features information on Dizzy Gillespie, Dorothy Champ, Elsie Austin, George W. Henderson, Hazel Scott, Louis G. Gregory, Robert Turner, Sadie Oglesby, and Sadie Rebecca Ellis.

According to the participant, these initiatives have led to “deeper conversations on racial justice and a normalizing of the act of talking about race.”

Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993)
Dorothy Champ (1893-1979)
Elsie Austin (1908-2004)
George W. Henderson (1882-1944)
Hazel Scott (1920-198)
Louis G. Gregory (1874-1951)
Robert Turner (1855/6-1909)
Sadie Oglesby (1881-1956)
Sadie Rebecca Ellis (1892-1974)


Nicola Daniels, MSc

WI Registrar & Student Services Specialist

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica. My interest in music, theatre, and the literary arts led me to abandon my academic degrees and a career in the Forensic Sciences, to take up a position with the British Council Caribbean as Arts & Education Officer. I worked for several years as the British Council Manager in my homeland, performing at various times with the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company, the National Chorale, and the Carifolk Singers. A small book of my poetry—Weights and Measures—was published by the Calabash Foundation in 2005, and my poems have garnered awards and been honored by publication in several anthologies. I served (and learned) alongside Jamaica’s first national poet laureate, Professor Mervyn Morris, as a judge for the Cultural Development Commission’s annual poetry competition. In 2008 I migrated to the US to live with my husband, Julian, whom I met on Bahá’í pilgrimage in Israel. My first teaching experience was as a poetry tutor at the Phillip Sherlock Center for the Creative Arts. Later, I participated in one of the first Wilmette Institute Science & Religion courses, and have since served as faculty on that course, and several others. In March 2012, I gave a presentation on World Peace at a Peace Conference hosted by Lander University. This experience inspired me to create a board game called Heart to Heart, featuring short quotations on unifying spiritual themes from 10 of the world’s religions and cultures. The game led to a website, a video channel, firmer friendships, a lot of learning, and a good deal of fun! I have served as a member of the Wilmette Institute Board, and also worked part-time for the Institute as Marketing Coordinator and Course Creation Assistant. I get a thrill from using my creative and (mostly self-taught) computer skills to create instructional materials. In March (2019) I took up a position as the Institute’s first Registrar. I enjoy handbell ringing with the Emerald Bells (finally back together after Covid), and since 2021, making music in my home studio and blogging.See Faculty Bio


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