Here’s a sad fact: my shelf of pre-1930s freethinkers is overwhelmingly white, male, and Western (WMW). They’re excellent thinkers, of course, but variety is the spice of life. Not to mention, I know that not all freethinkers were WMW. The problem is this: there have been too many periods in history when WMW opinions were widely appreciated, so anyone not fitting that description was essentially shunted off to the side, ignored by all but a fringe.
I’m tired of them being ignored. I certainly don’t want to be part of the problem. And I don’t want to miss important freethinkers because I’m relying on randomly-Googled lists rather than utilizing my greatest resource: you.
So crowdsource me. Tell me about your favorite freethinkers of color. Let me know about female freethinkers I’ve missed. If you know of female freethinkers of color, that would be especially awesome: even the lists that are dedicated to people of color have very few women pre-1960s. I don’t want the ones who were there to be ignored.
Do you know of LGBTQ freethinkers from the past? I’ll take ‘em. Non-Western freethinkers? Bring them to me. Pre-Enlightenment, pre-Renaissance, from ancient days? List them. If you find a person writing atheist screeds on clay tablets, I’ll be thrilled to bits.
There are only a few criteria to keep in mind:
- I’m looking for freethinkers who were active prior to 1940.
- I want out and proud freethinkers – people who were speaking and writing on freethought, or who otherwise made their status as freethinkers clear. They don’t have to be part of any freethought movement, just people who were forthright about their freethought.
- Please link to any resources about them you know of – writings, recordings, biographies, etc. If there’s nothing for me to work with, it’s hard to do a proper write-up.
Now, if someone falls outside the spectrum, but you really want me to know about them, tell away. Just because I focus on the history of the freethought movement doesn’t mean I’m not interested in finding out about recent and exciting people. If there aren’t any resources online, but they exist in the offline world, that’s okay – if I have to beg, borrow and/or steal* photocopies of old books and periodicals because no one’s bothered to digitize those works, that can be done as well. It just might take longer.
If you know of super-outstanding (or even just pretty good) lists of freethinkers who fall outside the WMW spectrum, link me the links.
Let’s make Friday Freethought as diverse as possible.
*Maybe not steal – pesky moral compass and all.