Blackout Secular Rally Draws Non-Believers of Color Nationwide

Mandisa and Marissa

Mandisa and Marissa


By Mandisa L. Thomas

On July 27th, 2013, Black Atheists of America and Black Nonbelievers, Inc. presented the first ever Blackout Secular Rally in New York City. The event was a celebration of diversity in the freethought community, and the growing number of openly identified nontheists of color.

Speaker and performers for the Blackout included Jeremiah Camara, Alix Jules, AJ Johnson, Victor Harris Jr. MC Brooks, G.A. and was hosted by comedian Steve Hill. Organizations represented included American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, Foundation Beyond Belief CFI-Blackout_with_Jamila_Bey (2)NYC , Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS),  and the Secular Coalition for America. Joy D’Avilar and David Ince from the FreethinkingIsland podcast (and the newly formed Caribbean Secular Alliance), were among those who conducted interviews with speakers and attendees, and they were able to capture the sentiments of the day – which were confidence, happiness and determination.

The Blackout also marked a first time offline event for quite a few

Ayanna and Anthony

Ayanna and Anthony

attendees. While many of us that are already involved in this community are well aware that there are all kinds of events for nonbelievers, there are still people who aren’t aware of them, or who may not think they would be comfortable being a minority in a predominantly Caucasian setting. So the Blackout accomplished two great feats – bringing out more nonbelievers of color, as well as exposing them to other organizations that have dedicated their support. In the words of one young lady, “(I) needed that kinship and seeing others who think like me. Had a great time, and I left feeling like I am not alone”.

AJ Johnson

AJ Johnson

There were numerous inquiries about a rally next year. Stay tuned for updates on our respective websites, and With the excitement that this first rally has created, there will surely be more to come in the future.



Steve Hill w/Godless Americana

Steve Hill w/Godless Americana



  1. Charles Humfree says

    It was great to read that there was a black secular rally with so much support from other great organizations. Sorry to have to ask this question, but how many turned out? To report on such an event and to leave out the estimated number of attendees is thought provoking. Given the support from other major secular groups in the U. S., what programs were initiated or what actions were proposed? How effective was this event?

    • Mandisa Thomas says

      Hello Mr. Humfree,

      To answer your question about the numbers, I would estimate that we had a flow of 150 ppl at the rally. The omission was not intentional I assure you. This event brought together more non theists of color than most major organizational events. So to that end, it was very effective.

      Many attendees came away from the event inspired to become more involved with their local groups, and in the movement in general. While no concrete programs were instilled on the day in question, both organizations already have established missions and core areas where we focus. I encourage you to visit our respective websites for more information, and any help that anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Jacque Carter says

    I attended and it was great to see everyone. It was a small turnout but all great things start out small like that snowflake that turns into an avalanche.

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