African Americans may be the nation's most religious minority, but the churches and religious leaders don’t speak for many of us.
Today as in the past, many African Americans question religion and religious institutions. More and more of us stand for reason over faith. Freethought over authority. Critical thinking in place of superstition. Many of us are nonreligious; some are nontheistic.
African Americans for Humanism supports skeptics, doubters, humanists, and atheists in the African American community, provides forums for communication and education, and facilitates coordinated action to achieve shared objectives.
In an irrational world, those who stand for reason must stand together.
African Americans for Humanism is a program of the Center for Inquiry, headquartered in Amherst, NY. It is directed by Debbie Goddard and an eight-member Advisory Committee. For further information, contact us.
AAH Conference, Washington, DC, May 2010
What we do
AAH maintains a volunteer Advisory Committee composed of individuals who act as spokespersons as well as guide the direction and future activities of AAH.
AAH fosters in-person communities by:
- hosting national-level AAH conferences regularly
- organizing regional AAH events at Center for Inquiry branches
- supporting local affiliate groups by promoting local events, facilitating communication among leadership, and providing online organizing materials, among other resources
- creating new AAH campus and community groups across the country
- organizing AAH meet-ups at national conferences hosted by allied organizations
AAH helps to build community online by:
- maintaining an online AAH discussion forum
- hosting an AAH blog and an article repository
- sending out an AAH e-mail newsletter regularly with relevant news, events, and announcements
- utilizing social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to connect people
AAH works to increase the impact of humanism, freethought, and skepticism in the black community by:
- engaging in outreach to historically black colleges and universities and to African American Studies departments
engaging in media outreach:
- AAH Advisory Committee members contribute op-eds and letters to black magazines, newspapers, and online media representing the perspectives of African American humanists and nonbelievers
- AAH seeks opportunities for new media platforms
- organizing public events at historically black spaces, such as the Schomberg Center in Harlem, on science, ethics, humanism, atheism, skepticism, and related subjects
- building coalitions with organizations that have shared objectives
AAH also strives to increase the presence and numbers of AAH and of African Americans in the freethought and skeptic communities by:
- contributing articles to Free Inquiry, the magazine of the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry
- continuing the AAH section in the quarterly Secular Humanist Bulletin newsletter
- providing a Speakers Bureau and working to get more persons of color at freethought and skeptic conferences, on podcasts, and in other movement-related venues
African Americans for Humanism is engaged in developing humanism in the African American community. We exist for those who are unchurched or questioning religion and who are looking for a rational and ethical approach to life. AAH believes that solving problems and attaining happiness should be rooted in reason, free inquiry, and critical thinking. We do not embrace ESP, astrology, numerology, or any other paranormal belief. We strive to deal with the problems of the world by developing our minds and analyzing ethical ideas.
Racism and slavery have plagued African Americans for centuries. Racial insensitivity and biased Eurocentric thinking have also caused great problems for African Americans. These problems are not always easy to detect and are often found in the least likely places and among the least likely people. AAH strongly opposes racism and challenges long-held beliefs which have consistently kept African Americans at a disadvantage socially, politically, and economically.
Traditional Western scholarship, philosophy, and ethical ideas have often been tainted by falsehoods. If world history is to be understood, it must first be understood that there are many different perspectives to examine. AAH presents many views which come into conflict with some of the established views of traditional Western scholarship, which adds depth to philosophical thought and helps create tolerance and understanding throughout the world community.
AAH recognizes the accomplishments of religion, but also acknowledges its many shortcomings. No text—religious or otherwise—offers the last word on morality or solutions to human problems. AAH:
- Questions and challenges the religious beliefs which have been responsible for many of the problems plaguing the African American community.
- Fights racism through humanistic education.
- Acknowledges the contributions of humanists of African descent to world history.
- Seeks to develop wisdom by using rational and scientific methods of inquiry.
- Believes that the “good life” can be achieved on Earth through sharing ideas and enlightened self-interest.
- Acknowledges the various styles of thinking that exist among individuals and groups, and seeks to determine the best course of humane and rational action for the African American community through open-minded examination of all ideas.
- Does not seek to put forth the specific agenda of any religious, political, or economic organization.
Humanism has a rich, though neglected, history in the African American community. African American humanists including W. E. B. Du Bois, Hubert H. Harrison, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, A. Philip Randolph, Richard Wright, and Carter G. Woodson, among others, have made significant contributions to history, literature, human rights, science, and activism. We can draw upon this strong humanist heritage to better understand our problems and devise solutions. Humanists encourage critical examination of all ideas and no concepts are regarded as sacred.
African Americans for Humanism was founded in 1989 by Norm R. Allen, Jr. Under his directorship, AAH published a quarterly print newsletter, The AAH Examiner, which was mailed to subscribers as well as to African American studies departments and to allies worldwide. Allen also contributed content to the regular publications of the Council for Secular Humanism.
Allen edited two important anthologies while director of AAH: The Black Humanist Experience: An Alternative to Religion; and African American Humanism: An Anthology.
On June 1, 2010, Debbie Goddard became the director of AAH.
Please contact us by phone at (716) 636-7571 ext. 421 or by e-mail if you are interested in getting involved or if you have any questions.