239 Days in America: A Social Media Documentary

100 years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Baha arrived in America. It was a turbulent time in American history – an election, the struggle for civil rights, American soldiers on foreign soil.

When ‘Abdul-Baha arrived in America, newspapers called him the “Apostle of Peace.”

He “will surely unite the East and West,” the president of Stanford University remarked, “for he treads the mystic way with practical feet.” “There is no doubt, among thinking people,” a famous columnist wrote, “that this man represents, in great degree, the growing and evolving spirit of our times.” “Let him visit any bank, factory, office building, church, and everything is laid aside, and eyes bulge and ears listen until he takes his departure.” 239 Days in America

Now, thanks to a fantastic social media documentary called 239 Days in America, you can feel like you were right there during this fascinating period of history and witnessing it with your own eyes and ears!

239 Days in America follows ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s 1912 journey across North America in real time (but exactly 100 years later), essentially reconstructing this little-known period in history hour-by-hour, for the entire 239 days of ‘Abdu’l Baha’s travels in America. It describes how ‘Abdu’l-Baha reached across political, religious, racial, class and gender divisions within American society with a bold vision of unity.

In this blog post on how the project came about, Rob Sockett, the Producer of 239 Days explains:

The subject matter would be the 100th anniversary of an event close to our hearts: the visit of Abdu’l-Bahá to America. As Bahá’ís, the occasion is of great consequence to us. It is a compelling and improbable story. In 1912, an aging Persian man, just released from 40 years of imprisonment at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, traveled across North America for 239 days, and confronted Americans with a vision of human nature, social unity, and the nation’s future that was 100 years ahead of its time.

You can follow the 239 Days updates on Twitter which will provide you with a “real-time itinerary” so you can follow ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s activities – who he meets and where he goes – constantly.

Magazine-style articles will be available on the website daily, fleshing out the stories of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s daily travel in rich detail.

Facebook is a great way to track along with the documentary too!

And for those of you who are super keen and can’t get enough of this wonderful project, the affiliated 239 Days blog is a great resource too. It gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the project (The Making Of: Part 1 and The Making Of: Part 2) as well as a number of other posts about the period leading up to the beginning of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s travels in America, which provide a great introduction to the 239 Days story.

I’m really excited about participating in this over the next 239 days and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too. Don’t forget to spread the word and share it with your social networks!


About the Author

In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Learning.

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