African Americans for Humanism Launch Awareness Campaign

African Americans for Humanism (hereafter referred to as the AAH) are launching a new awareness campaign for Black History Month. The campaign was announced on SkepChick by organizer Debbie Goddard:

Today Im proud to announce the new African Americans for Humanism campaign, just in time for Black History Month!

Billboards and transit shelter ads featuring historic and contemporary black humanists are going upin black neighborhoods!in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington DC, and Durham NC. The ads highlight historic black humanists Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as eight contemporary activists and organizers representing local AAH-affiliated groups in each city.

It surprises some people that an organized group like this exists. It’s well known that African Americans are the most religious minority group in the United States. The history of the American civil rights movement was heavily rooted in religious organization. Black Christian churches were rallying points and disseminators of information. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, of course, a reverend, and his speeches not only drew on scripture, but closely mimicked the cadences and intonations of a sermon.

More radical movements at the same time, including that which Malcolm X was for a time involved in (the same organization later had him assassinated when he broke with its leadership) were also religious in nature, though Christianity was explicitly rejected as a yoke of oppression, and Islam was touted as the proper religion for a black man.

But AAH hopes to get the message across that, though many African Americans are religious, not all of them are. Further, humanists (followers of a philosophy of empathy and concern for humanity’s well-being, independent of belief in the supernatural) of all races have made and are making great contributions to the world as well.

It’s also been frequently noted in skeptic and non-religious communities that “atheism is the only minority you can still openly discriminate against in America.” This may be overstating things just a bit, if only because a major upsurge in prejudicial public discourse has dominated Republican talking points the last few years. Still, it remains true that an openly atheist presidential candidate is, for the moment, inconceivable.

Studies have repeatedly shown that the believing majority strongly distrust non-believers. Intolerance for non-believers seems to have grown with awareness of their existence, as the percentage of people describing themselves as non-religious has grown year after year.

Prominent anti-theist, Richard Dawkins, organized a few years ago an “out” campaign, modelled on gay pride. Each of these movements, civil rights, LGBT rights, and non-religious rights are very different. But they do have one thing in common: moving society forward by getting past prejudice and discrimination. Ultimately, it’s a question of us getting used to different backgrounds, appearances, lifestyles, beliefs and behaviors than our own.

Increasing awareness of a modern prejudice is an appropriate goal for Black History Month, I think. Why don’t we all keep an eye out for AAH’s ads, and check out their website, whatever our personal beliefs happen to be. I almost guarantee we’ll learn something.

Related stories:

Atheists About as Trustworthy as Rapists to the Faithful

Gov. Christie Nominates Gay Man to Supreme Court

New Study Links Racism and Conservative Beliefs with Low IQ

Photo credit: George K. Warren


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Michael MacDonald

good to hear!

Carole H.
Carole H6 years ago

Holly S. are you seriously saying that no white people or hispanic people do drugs, lie and cheat etc. whilst still professing to be Christians? Almost every religious scam I have ever heard about has been perpetrated by white males purporting to be Christians - often by those running the churches yet alone going to them - so your 'argument' is not only invalid on the evidence, but, in picking on solely one racial group, I would say is racist too.

Zana Zatanique
Jan Alexanian6 years ago

Thanks for the article. I've seen this in so many instances.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

Enjoyed this article's content and theme. It's always hard to be in the minority when the majority is scared and angry about you. I agree with the thought that atheists are the last minority that America thinks it's o.k. to harass. Thanks for the article.

Linda T.
Linda T6 years ago

I hope other Civil Rights groups follow their lead. Would it not be nice to see loving couples together on a billboard, man and man, women and women, white and black, hetrosexual and hetrosexual, nurses, police officers, construction workers, teachers, social workers. Call it the Americans Together Campaign against Social Injustice.

Catherine Turley
Catherine Turley6 years ago

i love this idea. you've got to reach average people somehow. visuals are the best choice and since tv ads are too pricey, this is the next best thing.

Portland N.
P. L. Neola6 years ago

I am running out of time! I have time-constraints with my internet time, because there are not enough hours in the day for me nowadays! I almost finished my care2 session for today. When I quickly ran through the available articles, I immediately noticed Fredrick Douglass’s photo!

Douglass wrote several autobiographies, illustrating his experiences in slavery, including his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became influential in its support for abolition. I read this book and it is excellent!!!! One can still order this book online, and it is worth the investment. It provides a great insight to what slavery was really all about. It is very educational and better than any history book covering slavery.

“Harriet Ann Jacobs (February 11, 1813 – March 7, 1897) was an American writer, who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs' single work, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, was one of the first autobiographical narratives about the struggle for freedom by female slaves and an account of the sexual harassment and abuse they endured.” This is from Wikipedia, because I could not do any better for her!!!
This is another excellent book, and it is also available online. Both books together are profound in their insight on slavery. One should not leave this life without reading these books.

Peter Shrock
Peter Shrock6 years ago

Holly S. - Rates of drug use among whites are similar to those among blacks, if not higher.

Joey Sullivan
Joey Sullivan6 years ago

This sounds like a great group, hope it catches on in the Black Community. Religion is more evil than the most evil thing you can conjure up in your mind. Plus, African Americans who are Christian should do a little studying of the history of their religion. Especially the later history, how bitch ass white slave holders would justify their insane, inhumane actions with their Christian Faith. And African-Americans subjected to slavery where indoctrinated into the irrationality of Christianity.