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TITLEAlain Locke: Race Leader, Social Philosopher, Bahá'í Pluralist: 94th Annual Commemoration of 'Abdu'l-Baha's 1912 Visit to Howard University
AUTHOR 1Christopher Buck
ABSTRACTAvailable both as audio and PDF, and includes press release.
NOTES Presented in the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on the Howard University campus in Washington DC on "`Abdu'l-Bahá Day" (April 15, 2006) as part of an annual event commemorating the historic speech by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Rankin Memorial Chapel on Tuesday, April 23, 1912. This event was co-sponsored by the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Washington, DC and Howard University through its Bahá’í chaplain, Dr. Shirley Ganao. See the press release.

See other items about Locke linked from


1. PDF (see audio, below)

Click to download: buck_locke_race_leader.pdf [8 MB].

2. Audio

Audio #1: Aman McHugh, Bahá'í Campus Association, Howard University, introduces the Commemoration event.4:091 MB
Audio #2: Dr. Thomas Battle, Director, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, discusses the Alain Locke Papers, a manuscript collection preserved in the MSRC archives.10:023 MB
Audio #3: Dr. Segun Gbadegesin, Chair, Department of Philosophy, Howard University, introduces Dr. Buck.6:282 MB
Audio #4: Dr. Christopher Buck gives the above Keynote presentation.40:5214 MB

3. Press Release (from

The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Washington, D.C.

For immediate release
April 4, 2006
Contact: Noah Bartolucci

Author to speak on ‘Dean’ of Harlem Renaissance

WASHINGTON — The faith and philosophy of Dr. Alain Locke, one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance, will be the focus of a talk at Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on Saturday, April 15, at 3 p.m.

Author and independent scholar Dr. Christopher Buck will give the talk, titled “Alain Locke: Race Leader, Social Philosopher and Bahá’í Pluralist.” The event is free and open to the public.

Locke has been a focal point of renewed scholarship in recent years in part because of his writings on racial issues and democracy, which include works such as Race Contacts and Interracial Relations and Moral Imperatives for World Order, which Locke wrote in the shadow of World War I.

Born in Philadelphia in 1885, Locke entered Harvard University in 1904 and graduated three years later with magna cum laude honors and Phi Beta Kappa membership. He became the first black Rhodes Scholar in 1907, studying at Oxford University and later at the University of Berlin. He joined the faculty at Howard in 1912, leaving only once to earn his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard in 1918. He was fired by Howard’s white president in 1925, and returned in 1928 under its first black president. Locke thereafter remained at Howard until his retirement in 1953 as head of the Philosophy Department. He died one year later.

Locke’s career as a professor and writer covered a range of interests in the humanities and social sciences, but he is best known for his promotion of black art and culture, according to Buck, who has written and lectured extensively about the late Howard professor.

“He was the ‘Dean’ of the Harlem Renaissance, but he also was a Bahá’í race unity leader who used his academic training in philosophy to further race relations,” Buck said.

Buck’s talk, sponsored by the Howard University Bahá’í Student Association, will be preceded by welcoming remarks by Aman McHugh, a member of the student association; an invocation by Dr. Bernard Richardson, Dean of Rankin Chapel; a short presentation on Locke’s papers at Howard by Dr. Thomas Battle, director of Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center; and an introduction by Dr. Segun Gbadegesin, professor of philosophy at Howard. The event also will include a performance by the Metropolitan Washington Bahá’í Chorale.

Buck holds a master’s in religious studies from the University of Calgary, a Ph.D. in the academic study of religion from the University of Toronto, and a law degree from the Thomas Cooley School of Law in Lansing, Mich. He has taught at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.; Quincy University, in Quincy, Ill.; Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada; the University of Toronto; and most recently at Michigan State University, where he was a visiting assistant professor in the religious studies department.

Buck is the author of three books, and dozens of book chapters and essays, many of which reflect his scholarly interest in the religious or philosophical underpinnings of movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement.

On Friday, April 14, Buck will sign copies of his most recent book, Alain Locke: Faith and Philosophy (Kalimát Press, 2005) at the Howard University Bookstore, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Buck’s talk at Rankin Chapel is especially significant for the Bahá’í Community of Washington because it marks the 94th anniversary of the visit to the city and Howard University by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, who spoke in Rankin Chapel on April 23, 1912.

A member of the Bahá’í Community, Locke and by association his writings are thought to have been influenced by the faith’s teachings on the elimination of racial prejudice and the promotion of racial unity, as well as by its emphasis on social justice.

For additional information on Alain Locke, please visit the Alain Locke Society at For additional information on the Bahá’í Community, please visit or

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