Sen's daily

September 13, 2014

Alain Locke, short, gay, black and brilliant philosopher, finally gets a fitting burial

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 15:48
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Washington Post, September 12, 2014

This weekend, 60 years after his death, the ashes of the black Bahai philosopher Alaine Locke are finally being given a permanent resting place in Washington, in Capitol Hill’s Congressional Cemetery. The commemorative ceremony and interment were planned and funded largely by African American Rhodes scholars who followed Locke’s pioneering path across the Atlantic to Oxford. Locke was the first American black to be selected for the Rhodes scholarship, in 1907. He went on to be an important figure in the pragmatic school of philosophy and in the Harlem Renaissance, and an early spokesman for cultural pluralism, but was born at least a generation too early to be fully recognized in his lifetime. In a 1949 note, Locke refers to the irony of being born in America with his three minority statuses:

“Had I been born in ancient Greece I would have escaped the first [homophobia]; in Europe I would have been spared the second [U.S. racial segregation policies]; in Japan I would have been above rather than below average [height].”

His gravestone reads “Alain Leroy Locke, 1885-1954, Herald of the Harlem Renaissance, Exponent of Cultural Pluralism.” On the reverse side are four symbols: a nine-pointed Bahai star representing the religion that emphasizes the spiritual unity of humankind; a Zimbabwe bird, the emblem of the African country formerly called Rhodesia, which the American Rhodes community adopted; a lambda, symbolizing gay and lesbian rights; and Phi Beta Sigma, the fraternity Locke joined at Howard University. In the center is a dramatic art deco depiction of an African woman’s face set against a sunburst.

“Teneo te, Africa” it reads in Latin. “I hold you, Africa.”

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

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  1. Have I read something beautiful and touching and wonderful about Mr. Loche’s association with some other Bahai within the past year or so?????

    Comment by KomaGawa — September 13, 2014 @ 16:17 | Reply

    • Shoghi Effendi is reported to have said to Locke, “People as you, Mr. Gregory, Dr. Esslemont and some other dear souls are as rare as diamond.” (From Abdu’l-Baha in America)

      Comment by Sen — September 13, 2014 @ 16:38 | Reply

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