Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 56: William H. “Smitty” Smith

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode, I’m joined via zoom by Dr. William H. Smith, or “Smitty” as he’s affectionately known. Smitty is the Founding Executive Director of the National Center for Race Amity, and he’s truly lived an exceptional life. He talks to me about growing up during segregation, and shares how he became a Baha’i. We talk about the challenges of balancing social activism while trying to obey the law, and he stresses the importance and serious impact genuine friendships can have on creating justice and lasting social change. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

To find out more about some of the things we covered in this episode, check out the following links:

  • Smitty is the Founding Executive Director of the National Center for Race Amity.
  • Smitty is the Creator and Executive Producer/Co-Producer ‘An American Story: Race Amity and The Other Tradition‘.
  • Smitty is the Executive Producer/Producer/Co-Writer ‘The Invisible Soldiers: Unheard Voices‘.
  • Smitty mentions the first Baha’i World Congress in London, 1963.
  • Smitty mentions Baha’i Firesides.
  • Smitty talks about his love as a Baha’i for Jesus Christ. You may find this article interesting: The Station of Jesus Christ in the Baha’i Faith.
  • Smitty shares the following quote from the Bible: “And I have other sheep which are not of this fold. It behooves Me to bring those also, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” (Berean Literal Bible)
  • Smitty mentions Fort Tabarsi.
  • Smitty mentions ‘The Dawnbreakers’, which you can leard more about here: An Introduction to ‘The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative’
  • Smitty mentions the National Spiritual Assembly.
  • Smitty mentions the following people:

    Glenford Mitchel
    Agnes Parson
    Louis Gregory
    Alain Locke
    Nat Rudstein

  • We talk about the 1919 Red Summer, and the Orangeburg Massacre.
  • Smitty shares the following quote by Baha’u’llah: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
  • I share the following excerpt from a letter from the Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the United States:

    “Ultimately, the power to transform the world is effected by love, love originating from the relationship with the divine, love ablaze among members of a community, love extended without restriction to every human being. This divine love, ignited by the Word of God, is disseminated by enkindled souls through intimate conversations that create new susceptibilities in human hearts, open minds to moral persuasion, and loosen the hold of biased norms and social systems so that they can gradually take on a new form in keeping with the requirements of humanity’s age of maturity. You are channels for this divine love; let it flow through you to all who cross your path. Infuse it into every neighborhood and social space in which you move to build capacity to canalize the society-building power of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. There can be no rest until the destined outcome is achieved.”
    -Universal House of Justice

  • You can read the above letter here, and listen to an audio version of it here.
  • You can find all of our episodes here on the Baha’i Blogcast page, and be sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Baha’i Blogcast for more upcoming episodes on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud.

    Thanks for listening!

    -Rainn Wilson

    About the Author

    Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

    Visit Author's Website

    Discussion 4 Comments

    1. Greetings, Rainn and Naysan. I’m really enjoying these! Thank you so much. Quite a variety of individuals. But what I would be particularly interested in hearing is Rainn interviewing some of the Baha’i doing environmental work, like Arthur Dahl or Peter Adriance on an international level, and I imagine there are those doing this at a national or local level, as well. It’s the intersection of faith and mission that I’m most keen to hear. Thanks again!

      1. Hi Tara, thanks for your kind words and so glad to hear you’re enjoying the Baha’i Blogcast! 🙂

        We have a long list of people we’re trying to get through, and some of them are definitely involved with environmental work. In case you missed it, be sure to check out our interview with Halldor Thorgeirsson, the Chair of Iceland’s Climate Council, and retired Senior Director of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC):

        Hope this helps!

    2. Inspiring interview. Thank you. Recently moved to Georgia and can’t wait for the new Race Amity center in Atlanta. Sorry to point out one thing that engenders disunity in my estimation, and that is the inclusive description of folks called “rednecks”

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