Black atheists plan billboard campaign for African American History Month

“Doubts about religion: You are one of many”  is the banner inscribed on billboards in a Black History ad campaign launched by African American atheist groups.

Featured on the billboard are images of famous 19th and 20th century African American figures along with contemporary freethinkers.

The effort is designed to call attention to a long tradition of atheism and agnosticism in the black community.  

Billboards will appear in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington D.C., and Durham, N.C.

The campaign is sponsored by African Americans for Humanism and local groups like the DFW Coalition of Reason in Texas.

CBS News writes that in Los Angeles, “members of Black Skeptics Los Angeles are calling for local ‘freethinkers’ to participate in a national ‘Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers’ aimed at promoting ‘community and solidarity among blacks in America who identify as non-believers’.”

Plans to place billboards in Dallas have already sparked discussion, says a CBS News local affiliate. It reports that “Area pastors … are upset the billboard will appear in south Oak Cliff, along Interstate 35 and Illinois Avenue, within a mile of about a dozen black churches. ‘It’s a direct confrontation to the church. Absolutely,’ said Pastor Kyev Tatum.”

Rev. Tatum and the local Coalition of Reason, however, came together on a recent Sunday afternoon and found unity in preparing food for the poor. “The group showed up at the pastor’s church in south Fort Worth to help him out. With an iPhone, they shared footage of members picking turnip greens that will be donated to area food banks.” the CBS station reports.

African Americans for Humanism’s website explains the group’s purpose: “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.”

Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston and W.E.B. Du Bois were all atheists. In an autobiography Du Bois tells a story about being asked about his faith at a religious gathering. He replied, “Quite frankly, madam, I am a heathen.” The faithful responded with nervous laughter.

Photo: W.E.B. DuBois via Wikipedia



Joe Sims
Joe Sims

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People's World and loves biking.