Green Acre and the Bahá’í Publishing Trust present Conversations of the Heart, an online opportunity to hear from insightful Bahá’í authors about a range of topics from issues of the day to Bahá’í history. In this installment we’re honored to bring you the co-authors of the newly released book Anchor of Faith: The Enduring Spirit of the Black Men’s Gathering.
What was it like for Black men, who were living in a society bent on unconsciously and consciously breaking the spirits of Black males and who were also accustomed to being a part of a multiracial religious community, to participate in the Black Men’s Gathering? According to a August 28, 2011 letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice: “A quarter century ago, the Black Men’s Gathering was established with the aim of soothing hearts that had sustained slow-healing wounds and cultivating capacity for participating in a world-embracing vision… For these many years, the Gathering has served its members as a bulwark against the forces of racial prejudice afflicting your nation, and, indeed attacking the Bahá’í community itself, creating an environment in which injuries could be tended, bonds of unity strengthened, sparks of spirituality, fanned into flames, and the capacity for assuming the responsibility for the work of the Cause gradually developed through experience in the field of action.”
Anchor of Faith: The Enduring Spirit of the Black Men’s Gathering reveals how this nurturing environment was created and sustained for twenty-five years. The book highlights the challenges faced by the participants of the Gathering through the years, their courageous triumphs in teaching the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh both at home and abroad, and the power of the Word of God to open and heal the human heart. Even with the passage of time, the Black Men’s Gathering still serves as an effective reminder and an example of how prayer, study of the Word of God, and service to others can transform souls and guide them on the path toward Bahá’u’lláh.
Richard Thomas is Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University. He is author and coauthor of several books on race relations, the African American experience, and the Bahá’í Faith, including Understanding Interracial Unity: A Study of U.S. Race Relations, Life for Us is What We Make It: Building the Black Community in Detroit: 1915–1945, and Lights of the Spirit: Historical Portraits of Black Bahá’ís in North America, 1898–2000. He was one of the original twelve men who formed the Bahá’í Black Men’s Gathering in 1987. He is presently a member of the Ann Arbor Bahá’í community.
Frederick Landry first attended the Black Men’s Gathering in 2003. He works as an analyst for the U.S. General Services Administration. Mr. Landry received his law degree from the University of Melbourne and his Master of Laws from Vanderbilt University, where he specialized in International Criminal Law. He is author of several publications and papers on collective security, including The Evolution of Collective Security and The United Nations Charter, Elements and Applications That Prevent Collective and Human Security. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Bahá’í community.