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‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas Coming. By Lewis G. Gregory.

Abdul Baha Abbas Coming. By Lewis G. Gregory.
The Chicago Illinois Defender
April 13, 1912
Chicago, IL

Famous leader of the Bahá’í movement En Route to America — Plans Tour of the Country — Movement Attracts Attention.

By Lewis G. Gregory.

Washington, D.C., April 12. — It is now settled that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, the leader of the Bahá’í movement, is en route for America and will arrive in New York about April 10. He plans a tour of the country and will visit many of the large cities, Chicago among them. In view of the visit of one who, although not extensively known in the western world, is without doubt the most illustrious man on earth. it is to be hoped that the colored race. In connection with people of the other race, will avail themselves of the privilege of seeing and hearing him.

But what, may be asked, is the Bahá’í movement, and who is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas? The answer to this question seems to have a special significance to the oppressed, despised and rejected of all races and nations. For while the colored people today, as naturally they would be, are in a ferment of unrest and discontent because of the manifest injustice and prejudice that are uniformly directed against them in America, here is a movement that has in it millions of people, representing many races and all the great religions, and now actively advocated in all parts of the world, and able to unite its followers under the banner of universal tolerance and love. In Oriental countries the Bahá’í movement has united Jews, Christians, Mohammedans, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddists, etc., representing many races. In Europe it has united various branches of Christianity. In America, where it was introduced only about nineteen years ago, its assemblies reach from Maine to California, and it now gives forth more promise of being the real solution of the race problem than anything ever seen or heard of before.

Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas is the recognized leader of this movement, and from his friends “receives an homage that kings might sigh for in vain.” He values deeds above words and works in and out of season for the freedom of man from superstition and hatred. Taking their cue from their leader, his friends are engaged in much useful work. They look to results while some reformers talk. May it not then be suggested that one who has done so much for the peace and progress of the human race is entitled to respect and attention? Would it not be profitable for the American people in general, and the colored people in particular, to study the man and the means that have made him so successful?

Abdu’l-Bahá, the Servant of God, as he is known by his followers, visited England, France, and Switzerland last fall. It was his first visit to the western world. Perhaps no man ever appealed more to the universal heart of humanity. This was shown by the number and variety of people who apace: there is being undertaken at the present time a careful investigation of one of the most terrible lynchings — one of more than a hundred which took place during the year 1911.

Judge Hook Gets the Hook.

Looking back on the thirteen months that have elapsed since the last annual conference of this association, it can not be said that the cause of the colored people has done anything else than advance rapidly, both from the political and the material point of view.

Politically we have reason to be grateful for the Root-Borah debate in the Senate on disfranchisement; for the fight for Negro suffrage in Oklahoma; for the winning of civil rights suits in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and elsewhere, and for another and overwhelming defeat for disfranchisement in Maryland. The blow at peonage in Alabama, struck by the Supreme Court in 1911, is a cause for widespread rejoicing.

On the material side is the remarkable increase of Negro wealth in land and homes that continues unabated year by year. In the census report that the Negro population has grown from 1.770.808 in 1810 to 9.828.294 in 1910, the Negro can take unbounded satisfaction, since with his increasing numbers comes increasing power and increasing strength with which to fight his battles.

The efforts to draw the color line at Cornell university have failed; the appointment of a colored Assistant United States Attorney-General in Washington and the election of the first colored legislator in Pennsylvania are auspicious [unreadable text] of the future, and but two of many that might be presented.

But most significant and and striking of all the evidence has been the defeat for the Supreme court of the United States of Judge William C. Hook of Kansas.

Awakening to Power.

There can be no question that Judge Hook would be today upon the Supreme bench of the land after his intolerable “Jim Crow Car” decision but that the so called “Black Cabinet” of Mr. Taft waited upon the President and notified him if this wrong were done to the colored Americans no colored man would speak in his behalf in the presidential company and that he could count upon the certain hostility of the intelligent colored people of the country. Besides this association, many other bodies interested in the welfare of the colored people and prominent white judges and leaders of public opinion protested to Mr. Taft — and Judge Hook is not upon the Supreme bench of the United States.

We hear much about the lack of solidarity among the colored people. It is an indictment, the truth of which we can not wholly deny if we would. The nine millions of colored citizens do not yet realized what a tremendous power will be theirs when they but stand together, utilize the political influence which remains to them and take advantage of that right to voice their discontent, to express their bitter feeling of the wronged citizenship of which no legislation can deprive them. The Hook case is chiefly significant as showing the change attitude: a new tone among the colored people, it is to be welcomed thrice over and written down as a notable political event in their history if it means, as we suits, the persecutions and the injustice with which the Negro is treated.

Judge Brown’s topic was race discrimination. Among other things he said:

It is a duty every American of the white race owes to himself as much as he does to the Negro to see to it that the color of the man’s skin shall not subject him to insult, oppression and injustice in a country boasting of its democracy. Its liberty and the political equality of its citizens,” said the judge.

The people of the United States, more than any other people of the earth, should recognize the obligation to prevent racial partisanship and prejudice from influencing our conduct to the Negro. Yet a dominant portion of our fellow citizens and neighbors today go beyond the people of any other country in the world in unjust discrimination against him.

In the civil war we accepted everywhere the assistance of the Negroes, to whom we promised liberty and advancement. We used freedmen in the North as soldiers, freedmen in the South as scouts, fort builders, forages and commissaries. We were successful and we took no end of glory to ourselves for the redemption and emancipation of race.

Now when a state or a civic community has undertaken a duty like that there is no way for it in honor to retreat or withdraw. Every step we opened to these people made any political inequality, any social injustice, any ostracism, oppression or insult more bitter to them than it had been before.

But the Negroes have come fairly up in all the things dependent on their own exertions; they have in one generation become planters, businessmen, professional men, teachers, bankers, artists, musicians and authors. They have reared theaters and established schools and colleges of their own; built churches and hospitals and orphan asylums.”

Night Session.

At the night session of the conference Charles Edward Russel, magazine writer, declared that the United States is attempting to avoid the Negro question.

Are we a nation of cowards?” asked Mr. Russel, “and are we making for universal chaos which be accompanied by bloodshed?”

In addition to Mr. Russel, I.M. Rubinow of New York, H.T. Kealing, president of the Western university, Quindarrow, Kans., and Miss Julia Lathrop spoke, Bishop B.F. Lee presided.

Mrs. George Cone’s jubilee club sang.


The morning session was devoted to reading of reports by the delegates, Mr. Moorlildstory of Boston Presided.

In the afternoon the delegates were guests at a reception by Miss Jane Addams at Hull House. Mrs. Celia Parker Wooly was the principal speaker.

In the evening Rab[unreadable text] Hirsch presided. Mr. John H. Walker, president of the United Mine Workers of the Illinois: Mrs. Ida B. Wells Barnell, Dr. R.F. Riley of Birminham, Ala., author of “The White Man’s Burdens,” and Mrs. Anna Jones of Kansas City were the speakers. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of Persia also spoke.

Notes of the Conference.

An important idea was intro[text missing] one looked at the others for the evenings at Handel hall one could not but think of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s garden with the one color and variety of flower.

If we are hoping for a time when we shall not be measured by the color of our skin, had we not better begin by “cutting out” these nice little discriminations among ourselves?

The young ladies who acted as ushers were lovely and this word is no criticism upon them at all; but the scheme of having young girls for ushers might have been carried just a little further, and instead of married and maiden ladies such high school girls as Misses Esther Webster, Helen Perry and Bertha Mosely might have been added with credit to the list.