The Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly established Race Unity Day in 1957 to combat racism in the United States and promote more unity for all. The Bahá’í’s believe racial prejudice is the most challenging moral issue facing our nation and is the greatest barrier to peace. The holiday is an annual observation that falls on the second Sunday of June, which is June 11 in 2023.
To better understand Race Unity Day, it’s helpful to remember what was happening in the United States in 1957:
- May 17, 1954: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation of America’s public schools was unconstitutional in its Brown v Board of Education of Topeka decision.
- January 10-11, 1957: 60 Black pastors and civil rights leaders from various Southern states, including Martin Luther King, Jr., formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to coordinate nonviolent protests against racial discrimination and segregation.
- September 9, 1957: President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law, the first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
Since systematic racism continues to plague the country decades later, it’s beneficial to recognize and celebrate Race Unity Day, and learn more of the history behind the holiday. Formerly known as Race Amity Day (the name changed in 1965), today Race Unity Day is celebrated internationally.
How Race Unity Day is celebrated
Although the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly created the holiday, it’s not a religious event or a Bahá’í holy day. The purpose of the holiday is to recognize and appreciate each other’s diversity and come together to make the world a better place. Outside of Race Unity Day, local Bahá’í communities host workshops, events, and classes throughout the year to further educate people and combat racism.
Bahá’í communities often celebrate Race Unity Day with community picnics that anyone is welcome to attend. Since Juneteenth is celebrated shortly after on June 19, some communities have expanded to a Race Unity Week, during which educational presentations, musical events, art opportunities, and programs are scheduled.
Ways to acknowledge Race Unity Day in the workplace
When you make Race Unity Day a part of your internal and external newsletters and social media postings, your organization shows employees and customers a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Contact a nearby Bahá’í group or the Bahá’í National Center to learn more information about the history of the holiday and some good ways to celebrate.
Subscribe to The Diversity Movement’s 2023 Diversity Holidays Calendar to learn more about other holidays and how to make them a part of your organization-wide programming.