Race Unity Day Becomes Race Unity Week

Eric Dozier, cultural activist, anti-racism educator, and theomusicologist, “Leveraging the power of music to promote healing, justice, and racial reconciliation.” Eric will present a musical reflection about Juneteenth, as part of Race Unity Week.

Update: For a detailed schedule, download the flyers and highlights as PDFs:

Celebrations in Columbus and Dayton, Ohio will include many ethnic and religious groups.  

This year, Race Amity Day takes on special significance for me because of the enormity of the events of the past year. Race Amity Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of June in more and more localities around the country, including Columbus and Dayton Ohio this year, where the Bahá’ís and Interfaith Forums will coordinate a series of in-person gatherings that will also be streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Among the responses to all that has happened in the last year, major Bahá’í institutions have issued statements on the subject and guidance for Bahá’ís in their work for racial unity in the United States and worldwide.

Over the last nine months, discussion groups and dialogues have formed, including our own Regional Bahá’í Council’s monthly “Racial Justice and Unity Forum”.

June 2019 — friends gather in Kettering Park for Race Amity Day

My local Dayton, Ohio Bahá’í community — in collaboration with our Interfaith Forum — has marked Race Amity Day for several years with a celebratory and commemorative opportunity to join in fellowship, prayer, and sharing of cultural presentations; however, last year’s gathering in person was not possible due to the pandemic, so instead we launched an amazing program via Zoom that was followed by a profound program put on by the National Center for Race Amity.

This year, we are taking things “one step further” as we reflect on and commemorate the centenary of the first Race Amity Conference held by the Bahá’ís in Washington, DC on May 21, 1921. Agnes Parsons, during her pilgrimage in 1920, was instructed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “I want you to arrange in Washington a convention for unity between the white and colored people.” Mabry and Sadie Oglesby and their daughter Bertha as well as Agnes Parsons and Louis Gregory were involved in that ground-breaking event. To learn more, here’s a great Documentary: Abdu’l-Bahá’s Initiative on Race from 1921: Race Amity Conferences.

The Interfaith Forum of Greater Dayton is teaming up this year with the Interfaith Associations in Columbus — with potential collaboratories in Akron and other locales — and has taken on an even broader interfaith collaborative energy. Not only do we plan to celebrate Race Amity Day with in-person gatherings, we hope to connect via Zoom and possibly Facebook Live. Although these gatherings are opportunities to meet in person to engage in meaningful dialogue on the current discourses of society, we also will link with other communities to broaden and enrich the sharing opportunities and cultural interchanges. Everything else will be primarily on Zoom for easy access from anywhere. Ours here in Dayton is expected to involve members of at least the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, and of course Christian communities in addition to the Bahá’ís. We have also invited a number of community organizations to partner with us (among them the NAACP, and Re-imagining America: Dayton, as well as members of the Ohio Poor Peoples Campaign, Sinclair Community College’s Multifaith Ministerial Alliance, and the University of Dayton’s Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Caucus). 

Eric Dozier with his daughter Worthington — they will be performing together for Juneteenth.

This interfaith associations’ collaborative effort has created the opportunity for a much broader “Race Unity Week” – ending the following weekend with reflections on the significance of Juneteenth, led by cultural activist, anti-racism educator, and theomusicologist, Dr. Eric Dozier. There also will be a special Sunday sermon on that theme at a church in Columbus.  We are in the process of creating additional programs and artistic opportunities during the week – notable among these will be a “Social Justice through the Arts” event hosted by the Ohio Poor Peoples Campaign on Tuesday, June 15 (via Zoom). Currently we have a special presentation scheduled on Wednesday, June 16 at 3:00 p.m. on the Underground Railroad which will be broadcast over Zoom. 

Contact me for the Zoom links, or with any questions and/or if you want to participate in a more active way in any of the planned programs or want to offer an additional program.

Colette Harrison itscmh@sbcglobal.net