On October 9, 1981 a group of students from Central Junior High School in Springdale, Arkansas, USA wrote a letter to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Imam Khomeini (ra): as part of their Civics (good citizenship) project addressing leaders of the world. Enclosed in the letter was a pair of blue and gold socks, representing their school colors and a handbook with the school’s mascot on it, an Indian warrior; on behalf of goodwill and friendship between the two nations. The students asked for a pair of old socks or other inexpensive used clothing items in return, to learn about the Iranian nation.
Much to their surprise, Imam Khomeini responded. In his letter he expressed kindness towards the students: he honored their request and sent back some gifts. The letter was delivered in person by an Iranian student in Washington. Upon the Algerian embassy’s contact (Algeria represented the Iranian interests in U.S. at the time) with the school staff, everything was arranged for Ali Mohammadi to deliver Imam Khomeini’s handwritten letter ; along with a book of prophets and a prayer robe for the students at Springdale Public School.
Lori Norris a civics student, then 14, said she was impressed by Imam Khomeini when the exchange was made, since she didn’t expect a response from the Iranian leader. In an interview with the Telegraph, she said she believed that the project taught her, “You can have friends overseas”.
Upon seeing the mascot, in his response, the great spiritual and political leader of Iran Imam Khomeini wrote “I received your kind letter and valuable gift. I am aware that the Natives and people of African descent are being suppressed,” and “according to Islamic teachings, there are no differences between whites, reds and blacks; what distinguishes people from one another is virtue, morals and righteous deeds.”
Below you can read the full text of the exchanged letters.
Imam Khomeini’s response;
In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Dear good sons and daughters at Springdale Junior high school of Arkansas, U.S.A,
I received your kind letter and the valuable gifts from you dear ones.
I am aware that Natives and people of African descent are being suppressed. According to Islamic teachings, there are no differences between whites, reds and blacks; what distinguishes people from one another is virtue, morals and righteous deeds.
I pray to the Almighty God for the success of you dear sons and daughters: May He guide you to the right path. I will enclose in this letter a copy of wise words from the noble prophet of Islam which has been presented to the Iranian children, and I pray God blesses you.
I hope you will be successful in developing humane values.
Ruhullah Mousavi Khomeini