Abdu’l‑Baha, stated that Baha’u’llah “once compared the colored people to the black pupil of the eye surrounded by the white. In this black pupil is seen the reflection of that which is before it, and through it the light of the spirit shineth forth.” ~ quoted by Shoghi Effendi in Advent of Divine Justice
Similarly, in a letter to Robert Turner, Abdu’l-Baha said, “Thou art like unto the pupil of the eye which is dark in colour, yet it is the fount of light and the revealer of the contingent world.”
These quotes point out the special role that people of African descent have to play in the further development of humanity. This page lists some of these shining lights who receive their inspiration from the Revelation of Baha’u’llah and are arising to fulfill this vision in the world today.
Video above: How the Baha’i Writings Show That Black Is Beautiful / June & Richard Thomas – Race Unity in America: an Oral History – (14 short stories)
Barbara Talley is first on the list as she had the vision of bringing together the Baha’is in the US of African descent or what she refers to as POTE’s (pupil of the eye). The purpose was to better understand the spiritual significance of this ennobling metaphor that Baha’u’llah had attributed to people of African descent. It began with an ARISE Pupil of the Eye Conference (POTE conference) in Nashville in 2019 which was described by many as a “sea change” and has since turned into a movement. After several other conferences it has now taken the form of Foundation Hall University or FHU.
FHU is a virtual meeting space offering programs Monday – Friday at 10:30 EST. The primary purpose is to raise consciousness about the innate nobility of and to restore dignity to people of African descent. These sessions serve as both support groups for POTE’s and an opportunity for others to listen, learn and consult about the devastating effects of racism (the Baha’i writings call “the most vital and challenging issue“) and decide what steps to take in one’s own life, work environment and community to eradicate it. Additionally the meetings include a study of the latest guidance the Baha’is have been given by our Institutions. Here is a link to register. Don’t forget to bookmark the Zoom link once you’re in so as to not have to sign up again. To view the schedule of speakers, some of which you will find below, go here.
Books: The Excitement of Value-Based Living: The TALLeYUP System for Living – 12 Virtuous and Purposeful Habits to Help You Reawaken the Dreamer in You, Recharge from Within, and Realize Your Dreams | The TALLeY UP System: Companion Workbook | On Track, On Fire, On Purpose: An Inspired System for Using Your Vision, Values, and Virtues to Get Your Fired Up About Your Life | Pieces of My Soul: Original Poetry
Videos Produced by Barbara: SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL CONTAGION FROM A BAHA’I PERSPECTIVE | Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 51: Barbara & Radiance Talley | (Note: more to be added.)
Dr. Joy DeGruy – Books: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing
Comments: Dr. DeGruy is a nationally and internationally renowned researcher and educator. Through lectures, workshops, seminars and special guest appearances, Dr. Joy has shined a light on the critical issues affecting society. Dr. Joy’s seminars have been lauded as the most dynamic and inspirational currently being presented on the topics of culture, race relations and contemporary social issues.
Videos: Dr Joy DeGruy explains racism vs prejudice | Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary: Post Traumatic Slave Disorder (lecture) |“Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” and Learned Helplessness – Karen Hunt Show | Trials To Triumphs OWN Podcasts | Access to Respect– The Man Enough Podcast | Cracking the Codes: “A Trip to the Grocery Store” | (In)Visible Portraits – Oprah Winfrey Network (2:20) | Be the Healing | Race in Black and White (3 Baha’i women – feat: Bahia Overton & Kathleen Cross ) | Reparations: A debt long overdue! | Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Joy DeGruy | many more on the web
Videos: Centering the “Pupil of the Eye”: Blackness, Modernity and the Revelation of Baha’u’llah (Wilmette Institute)| New Narratives of Identity New Narratives of Community part 1 | Part 2 | New Wine and New Bottles: Thoughts on Race, Justice, Unity and The Baha’i Faith | Identity, Justice, and the Future of Race with Barbara J. Fields | Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 39: Derik Smith | Racial Justice: Mass Incarceration in America | Why Does the Bahá’í Faith Consider Black People the “Pupil of the Eye”?
June Manning Thomas PhD – Books: Struggling to Learn An Intimate History of School Desegregation in South Carolina | Detroit, Race and Uneven Development | Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit | Urban Planning and the African-American Community: In the Shadows | Planning Progress: Lessons from Shoghi Effendi
Videos: ACSP 2023 Distinguished Educator Award (Full Speech)| Struggling to Learn: Legacy of an Incomplete Civil Rights Movement (Wilmette Institute) | Struggling to Learn: An Intimate history of School Desegregation in South Carolina (The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace) | Social Equity & Social Justice In Cities and Urban Planning (Agora Journal of Urban Planning and Design) | June Manning Thomas – A Baha’i Perspective | Equity Planning in a Constrained City (Baumer Lecture Series) | 2022 Author Book Talk Event | The Orangeburg massacre 1968 (June Thomas’ hometown)
Dr. Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis – Books: Lights of the Spirit: Historical Portraits of Black Bahá’is in North America. Co-edited with Richard Thomas. Unrelated Kin: Race and Gender in Women’s Personal Narratives. Co-edited with Michele Foster. My Soul Is My Own: Oral Narratives of African American Women in the Professions | Attorney for Racial Justice – The Story of Elsie Austin by Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis PhD and Luthando Mazibuko (Numerous Selected Book Chapters and Journal Articles etc.)
Online Accredited Course: Reconstructing Blackness: Anti-Racism and Unity in the US – Explore the construction and vitality of Blackness from a uniquely Bahá’í perspective.
Videos: Racism in America (Wilmette Institute) Gwen Lewis and Niki Daniels | African American Women in the Bahá’í Faith: Intersectionality, Myths and Restorative History | Bold Black Women in the Bahai Faith
Writer: Articles at BahaiTeachings.org by Masud Olufani
Videos: Freeing Ourselves of the Stain of Racism | An Artist Rooted in Justice and Unity (interviewed on Cloud 9 podcast) | How the Baha’i Faith Affirms and Empowers Black People | America’s Racial Problem from a Bahá’í Perspective | Interview with Masud Olufani – Get Real or Die Trying with Amadon DellErba | Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Ep 50: Masud Olufani |
Actor/Storyteller: No Cowards in Our Band a musical drama about Frederick Douglass by Anthony Knight (Promo)| “Remember Igbo Landing” | ‘Frederick Douglass: A Life,’ written and performed by Masud Olufani
Ruha Benjamin – Books: Imagination: A Manifesto | Viral Justice – How We Grow The World We Want | Race After Technology | People’s Science: Bodies & Rights On The Stem Cell Frontier | editor: Captivating Technology
Comments: Benjamin is an internationally recognized writer, speaker, and professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she is the founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab. She is the award-winning author of Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code and Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want. Time Magazine, October 2022
Have the last few years been a veritable dumpster fire of crises in health and humanity? Yes! And there’s no one better to light the way out and guide us in building a just future than Ruha Benjamin. Ms. Magazine October 2022
Press: To Dismantle the Prison System, We Need Viral Justice Time Magazine (reprinted a chapter in her book)
Videos: Ruha Benjamin: How Do You Build A Movement? | Metaphysical Milkshake with Rainn and Reza | Spark Podcast: How to set our imagination free to build the technological futures we want (based on Imagination: A Manifesto)
Note: This is a work in progress.