Embracing a new religion when faith is a big part of your family and cultural traditions can be challenging. That’s why Barbara Talley, a Baha’i living in the Washington D.C. area, believes that “in order to be confirmed to stay in [a new faith], you need love” from your religious community.
Barbara, who grew up as a Christian, says, “The church was a family.” It “was the only place where Blacks were free to be themselves – to dress up, put on their hats, listen to some wonderful music and clap, and ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord’. That was something that fueled you to deal with all the racism that you dealt with in work. And, of course, I dealt with lots and lots of racism.”
So, when she became a Baha’i after she moved to the D.C. area in the mid-1970s, she was relieved and touched to be treated with so much love and kindness.
Barbara soon learned that, “kindness to all nations” is one of the Baha’i teachings. In 1911, Abdu’l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, said, “Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.”
“I met these Baha'is that really didn’t treat me like a color,” Barbara says. “We would drive an hour to be together. We would sit on the floor in crowded rooms to talk.”
Watch as Barbara shares more about the “level of hospitality, love, and kindness” she received from the Baha’i community in this clip for the Race Unity Project — a video series 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 how we can raise champions for race unity and how people from privileged demographics can take responsibility for educating themselves about race.
“Back then, we just wanted to be friends,” Barbara says of her early days of being part of the Baha’i community. “We wanted to care for each other. We wanted to love each other. We loved being around each other.”
Radiance Talley is a staff writer at BahaiTeachings.org and a corporate communications associate at One Planet Group. 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,...READ MORE