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Cynthia Barnes Slater has built a committed life centered around the issue of racial justice.

A retired human resources professional with 30 years experience, specializing in employee relations and diversity, she has consistently sought to foster spaces of inclusion in both the public and private sector. A mother of two adult sons and a grandmother, she embraced the Baha’i Faith in 1974 after initially beginning to investigate it at 16. 

Cynthia’s subsequent services as a Baha’i have led her to extended periods in Togo, West Africa; London, England, and Oakland, California. Currently, she serves as a volunteer for the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, and for Books & Breakfast, a community-based program that provides healthy breakfast and assistance with schoolwork for children in Evanston, Illinois. She has also served as a member of the race advisory council for, the nonprofit entity that produces this podcast, and in addition to all of that, she has been and remains a dear friend. In her life, Cynthia exemplifies what Abdu’l-Baha said about justice:

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality. Its operation must be carried out in all classes, from the highest to the lowest. Justice must be sacred, and the rights of all the people must be considered. Desire for others only that which you desire for yourselves. Then shall we rejoice in the Sun of Justice, which shines from the Horizon of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 159-160.

In this episode of America’s Most Challenging Issue we discuss Cynthia’s life and work, focusing on her childhood in the diverse city of San Francisco. We also examine the path that led her to the Baha’i Faith, paying particular attention to how her early experiences with cultural diversity prepared her to embrace the unifying teachings of Baha’u’llah. In addition, we unpack some of the triumphs and challenges she has experienced along the way, such as the difficulty of raising black boys in an often hostile and dangerous society. 


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  • Phyllis Unterschuetz
    Aug 03, 2019
    This is so empowering. Thank you dear Cynthia. Thank you dear Masud
  • Sandra Huit
    Aug 03, 2019
    Hi Cynthia! So now I find that you and I now have something else in common besides Baha'u'llah, San Francisco, mutual friends, and Lowell High School! I too, was "kicked out" of Sunday school when I was seven. During that December when the teacher was telling the traditional Christmas story, I asked what/who the Magi were. The next week she brought the answer that the three wise men, the Magi, were priests from the Zoroastrian religion in Persia, who were led by their teachings to search for Jesus. I declared that then God must to other religions, too, not just through the bible. The following week my mother was told that I could attend the adult services so as not to "disrupt" the children's classes. I enjoyed the interview!