February, the shortest and coldest month on this part of the planet, is the time in which schoolchildren learn that Black Americans did far more than just suffer enslavement in these United States. Children all over learn (just short weeks after MLK’s dream-filled celebrations) that George Washington Carver was a peanut genius, Rosa Parks got tired and wouldn’t give up her bus seat to a white man, and that Black people are all God-fearing and without the reverends and churches of the post-WWII era, the Civil Rights movement wouldn’t have been a success.
I’m skipping over my (minor) quibbles with the month for this post, as I genuinely wish to make it clear that Atheists really need to support Black History Month for the simple fact that one of our own invented it!
Carter G. Woodson, autodidact who graduated with his Ph.D. from Harvard, was a leading thinker who came up with the idea of Negro History Month in 1926. He hoped, (as does this writer) that the need for the commemoration would someday become obsolete.
Woodson was a staunch critic of religious institutions and wrote that they were oppressive to Blacks. Just as he believed that the accomplishments and the global influence of Black people were unreported or at best under represented, the influence of freethinking and atheist people, particularly concerning American history, have been diminished.
Today’s Google Doodle, which celebrates the anniversary of the birth of African-American poet, and columnist, Langston Hughes, is also a great opportunity for atheists to remind folks that Hughes was also without religion. In his 1932 poem, “Goodbye Christ” he wrote,
You did alright in your day, I reckon—
But that day’s gone now.
They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
Called it Bible—
But it’s dead now,
The popes and the preachers’ve
Made too much money from it.
So, I’m delighted to be part of the FTB family, and I think it a happy coincidence that I’m launching in February. I look very much forward to doing more to afflict the comfortable and making the acquaintence of the readers here.