Secularism in Black History
In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to look back at a few notable secularists in Black History. What are some others that are important to you? Please leave a comment below.
Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen (January 7, 1911 – December 22, 1995) was an American actress. Originally a dancer, McQueen first appeared in film in 1939 as Prissy, Scarlett O’Hara’s maid, in the film Gone with the Wind. She was unable to attend the movie’s premiere because it was held at a whites-only theater. Often typecast as a maid, she said: “I didn’t mind playing a maid the first time, because I thought that was how you got into the business. But after I did the same thing over and over, I resented it. I didn’t mind being funny, but I didn’t like being stupid.”
As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.
James Arthur “Jimmy” Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America. Some of Baldwin’s essays are book-length, including The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). An unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award-nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro.[
If the concept of God has any use, it is to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God can’t do that, it’s time we got rid of him.
James Forman (October 4, 1928 – January 10, 2005) was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and a leader active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the International Black Workers Congress.
He received a master’s degree in African and Afro-American studies from Cornell University in 1980 and a Ph.D from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. He founded James Forman and Associates, a political consulting group. During the 1990s, he taught at American University, the University of the District of Columbia and Morgan State University in Baltimore. He was also the author of several notable books. The New York Times called him “a civil rights pioneer who brought a fiercely revolutionary vision and masterly organizational skills to virtually every major civil rights battleground in the 1960s.”
Belief in God hurts my people.
December 21, 2020
July 03, 2019
June 07, 2019