In this interview with the Race Unity Project, Eric shares how the Baha’i community’s diversity impacted him. Since his previous religious experience was one of worshipping in the Black church, he “was not used to seeing religion like that.”
Eric first learned about the Baha’i Faith while living in Durham, North Carolina. It is a “very very diverse — very active community. [I] still have phenomenal relationships with people that are still there,” he says.
Abdu'l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha'i Faith, said that Baha'u'llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, “has drawn the circle of unity, He has made a design for the uniting of all the peoples, and for the gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity.” Baha'is believe that “we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will strength be given unto us.”
Eric says, “Worship is an intimate act. It’s not just you go, you say a couple of prayers, and you leave, but you’re really opening your spirit and heart to have an encounter with the divine in the presence of other people. So, that’s not a small feat to allow yourself to pray and be with people like that, particularly with people who may not pray like you — may chant or sing in a different language, which was not an experience I was used to — that are a different skin color than you.”
Exploring these kinds of experiences is the goal of The Race Unity Project, an initiative produced by Journalism for Change, Inc, a nonprofit media organization founded by filmmaker and human rights activist Maziar Bahari. Through interviews with Baha’is from around the country, the project tells “the century-long story of the American Baha’i community and its efforts — as well as its tests and challenges — in promoting race unity.”
Videos from “The Race Unity Project” include a variety of candid interviews about race — including stories of how the Baha'i gospel choir fosters friendships with people from all over the world and reflections on how the Baha'i Faith affirms and empowers Black people.
Watch as Eric also discusses why he especially loved reading what the Baha'i writings had to say “about the eradication of racial prejudice and the roles that people have to play in getting rid of racism in the world.”
Radiance Talley is the community and content manager at BahaiTeachings.org. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication, a College Park Scholars Arts Citation, and a cognate in journalism. In addition to her writing, drawing, presentation, and public speaking experience, Radiance...READ MORE