This is a guest post by Mandisa Thomas. Mandisa is the founder and current President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. She has been featured in JET magazine and was recently elected to the Board of Directors for Foundation Beyond Belief.
Created by Donald Wright (author of The Only Prayer I’ll Ever Pray: Let My People Go) in 2011, the National Day of Solidarity’s mission is to promote community and solidarity among blacks in America who identify as non-theists. In the face of the highly religious climate in the Black community, as well as the predominantly White presence in the freethought community, Black atheists often feel as if they are completely isolated. The Day of Solidarity encourages in-person fellowship, recognition of historic and current Black freethinkers, and the pursuit of Humanist strategies to solve the problems facing humanity — especially those affecting the Black community.
Although the date will always be the 4th Sunday in February, the celebrations for participating cities vary. In Atlanta, Black Nonbelievers, Inc. will host a Special Edition General Meeting, complete with a feature presentation by Darrell Smith, author of the upcoming anthology Black Nones. Black Atheists of America, along with CFI, will showcase different careers amongst Black atheists, complete with a photo exhibit in New York City. The Houston celebration will be held at a local restaurant. There will also be a gathering in Washington, D.C. These events and more can be found at http://aadayofsolidarity.blogspot.com/
One question that often comes up is if this celebration is exclusive to Blacks. And the answer is NO. All Day of Solidarity events are open to everyone, and no one should feel that, because they aren’t Black, they aren’t welcome to participate. The primary purpose of this day is to encourage Black atheists to engage offline, and to start working together to increase our presence not only in the freethought community, but also in the Black community — where our voices desperately need to be heard.
And you don’t have to be Black, or be part of a Black organization, to assist with these efforts. In fact, the freethought community can help by promoting this celebration and the corresponding events with all of the avenues they have available. Write about it in blogs or newsletters. Promote it on websites. Partner with another organization on an event. Encourage your group members to participate, and if there isn’t a celebration in your city — start one. Outside of the suggestions that each event be complimentary and free of recruitment efforts, no event is too big or too small. The ultimate goal is to bring people together.
The National sponsors for the Day of Solidarity are African Americans for Humanism, Black Atheists of America, Black Freethinkers, Black Nonbelievers, Inc., and Black Skeptics Los Angeles. If you are a member or organizer of a group that is interested in more information, please contact any of these organizations, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This celebration is one that ALL freethinkers should be aware of, and it is crucial to acknowledge any occasion that is deemed important by any particular race/identity within our ever growing community. Only then will we achieve the diversity is often discussed and desired.