Steven Kolins, “African American Bahá’í Newspaper Publishers and Chief Editors, featuring Thelma Thurston Gorham,” Dec. 8

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m. Eastern time

This presentation discusses previously undocumented African American newspaper publishers and chief editors throughout the 20th century who were interested in the Bahá’í Faith: Robert Abbott of The Defender in Chicago, Beatrice Cannady of The Advocate in Portland, Robert Durr of the Birmingham Weekly Review, and Edgar and Blanche Harris of the Champaign Illinois Times. Particularly significant was Thelma Thurston Gorham (1913 – 1992) who served as chief editor for various newspapers, including The Apache Sentinel, the Tulsa Oklahoma Eagle, and the Oklahoma City Black Dispatch. Gorham officially embraced the Bahá’í Faith in 1954 and in subsequent decades she played pivotal roles in founding the Public Information Office of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and representing the Bahá’í community at a significant conference. Her academic journey led her to Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU), where she established the Department of Journalism and Mass Media. She also founded the Bahá’í community in Tallahassee and was honored posthumously in a number of ways.

Steven Kolins, born in 1963 and hailing from Wisconsin, has been a resident of North Carolina since 1987. His academic journey included a dual major Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degrees. As an unaffiliated scholar deeply engaged with the Bahá’í Faith, Kolins has contributed across various scholarly platforms, starting with Bahá’í World, volume 20, to online resources like Wikipedia, Bahaipedia, Bahaiteachings, and Bahai-Library.org. Kolins has also contributed to educational initiatives, including offerings by the Wilmette Institute and Graham Hassall’s The Reference Desk: Projects That Support Bahá’í Scholarship in the Digital Age. Additionally, most recently Kolins has published an article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians, vol. 31, under editor Dr. Gael Graham. He has specialized in bringing newspaper clippings into scholarly research of people and places in the history of the Bahá’í Faith.


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