Marriage - Interracial

On March 25, 1911, at the behest of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Louis Gregory sailed from New York through Europe to Egypt and Palestine to go on pilgrimage. In Palestine, Gregory met with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and visited the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh and the Shrine of the Báb. After he had returned to Egypt from Palestine, the discussion of race unity in the United States came about with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the other pilgrims. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated that there was no distinction between the races, and then gave blackberries to each of the pilgrims, which Gregory interpreted as the symbolic sharing of black-coloured fruit. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged the marriage of Gregory and a white English Bahá’í, Louisa (Louise) A. M. Mathew, whose pilgrimage in 1911 had coincided with Gregory’s and who had traveled to America with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at His invitation. Although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had raised the topic of intermarriage during their visit to Egypt, telling Gregory, "If you have any influence to get the races to intermarry, it will be very valuable,"16 at first they thought of each other only as friends. When they met again in America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá urged them to consider their relationship in a new light. Only then did the potential attachment He had sensed between them blossom into love. They were married in a quiet ceremony in New York City on 27 September 1912, becoming the first interracial Bahá’í couple at a time when intermarriage in the United States defied popular scientific theories about the baneful effects of "race mixing," flouted the customary dictates of a divided society, and was a criminal offense in much of the nation. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá described the Gregorys as "an introduction to the accomplishment" of fellowship between the races.18 Although the couple had no children of their own, they enriched the lives of many young people and, over the years, became a particular source of strength to a growing number of interracially married couples among the American Bahá’ís.

from articles culled on the internet