Toledo’s Race Amity Day Promotes the Cause of Harmony and Unity

Special to The Truth

Race Amity Day was held last week, Friday, May 21, at Wildwood Metropark and about 45 people gathered there along with dozens more virtually to celebrate an attempt to foster racial harmony and to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the nation’s first Race Amity Day.

The event was organized by Behrooz Modarai of the local Baha’I Faith community who observed that his faith holds two core beliefs – that there is one human race and that men and women are equal.

Last week’s local event was attended by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, who spoke of the extraordinary blend of races and culture in America and how badly the country has handled it thus far, as good an idea as it may be. It is worth the struggle he noted.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur spoke about the need for Congress to move ahead and pass the George Floyd Bill, which will address certain concerns about police conduct, and the Voting Rights Bill, which will address the current movements in numerous states to curtail the ability of citizens to vote.

Also in attendance was former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner; Ron Wells from Lucas County, who brought a proclamation, City Council members Cerssandra McPherson and Katie Moline who brought greetings from Council.

June Boyd served as the mistress of ceremonies and Alexis Collins, from the YWCA, spoke on why the YWCA has devoted a website to racial justice.

The first Race Amity Day was also organized by members of the American Baha’I Faith on May 19-21, 1921. The events, “Convention for Amity Between the Colored and White Races Based on Heavenly Teachings,” was held at the Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. The meeting was the first such gathering since mob violence has torn apart the nation’s capital two years before.

The Baha’I period of race amity lasted until 1936 and was followed by a series of Baha’I race relations initiatives: sponsorship of Race Unity Day that has lasted into present times; the 1991 Baha’I statement of “The Vision of Race Unity;” the subsequent video “The Power of Race Unity.”

The Baha’I Faith is a relatively new religion which focuses on teaching the intrinsic worth of all religions and the unity of all people. The religion was established by Baha’u’llah in the 19th century, developed primarily in Persia (modern day Iran) and parts of the Middle East.

Friday’s local event featured a keynote address by Paul Hubbard who spoke of the need to understand and accept all religions because all religions have a God who gives blessings to its followers – the basic principles of all religions are the same.

“We as people have to demand that our political parties, both Democrats and Republicans, stiop being at war with each other and start working together,” said Hubbard. “We the citizens who vote, pay taxes, raise families, go to work every day, are concerned about education, health care, jobs, nice housing and communities. We need to write letters and send petitions to both parties to work together on these issues.”

Hubbard noted that the nation needs strong fair housing laws, fair lending laws and anti-redlining laws.

“The first law of nature is self-preservation and if people are not given the opportunity to survive legally, they will survive illegally,” he added.

The festival opened and closed with the singing of Civil Rights anthems and prayers from various religions.