February 1909: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá directed the American believers to hold interracial meetings …

… Louis Gregory soon found, [that] the fundamental Bahá’í principle of the oneness of mankind elicited varied responses from the Bahá’ís themselves.  In fact, as the Hannens told him shortly after he became a Bahá’í in 1909, the practice of separate meetings had never even been discussed by the community members, although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá apparently had directed them to hold interracial meetings as early as February of that year.  Whites like Lua Getsinger, the Hannens, and Mrs Hannen’s sisters, Alma and Fanny Knobloch, all of whom were well aware of the implications of racial unity in the Bahá’í teachings, were already participating in integrated meetings, both in public places and in private homes.  Other white Bahá’ís were not, either because racial mixing was uncustomary or because it was distasteful to them personally.  Many who had been attracted to the Faith by one principle or another, or by the Person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, would have been horror-struck to discover that to be a Bahá’í meant to be a proponent of racial equality.  There did not yet exist any administrative means or even any general sense of necessity to bring such unreconstructed whites into conformity with the Bahá’í principle of oneness.

Louis Gregory proved to be an agent of change in the Washington community.  He was the first black Bahá’í from the “talented tenth.”  A cultivated and articulate lawyer, distinguished in appearance and bearing, he was not deterred by any lack of education or social standing from assuming an active role or from challenging the community’s racial practices.  Under his questioning, the old, unconsidered habits of segregation had to be confronted by the community; and, once the issue had been raised, it could not be dismissed.  Louis Gregory began, quietly but uncompromisingly, to lay the groundwork for the changes he knew were inevitable. (Gayle Morrison, ‘To Move the World’, pp. 31-32)