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  •  MLK recognized the contribution of nontheists (1+ / 0-)
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    to the civil rights movement. It is unfortunate that so many of you do not.

    You have been fooled by historical revisionism that has sought to excise the role of atheists in the movement and elevate the role of churches and, in general, creating a simplified, Washington-and-the-cherry-tree type of sanitized mythology about the movement.

    In fact, virtually every campaign for social justice, humane treatment of humans and animals, and generosity toward the poor has been spearheaded by coalitions of religious and secular people, theists and atheists, working together for humanitarian common cause.

    Let's take the 1963 March on Washington for example, where MLK gave his famous "I have a dream" speech.

    A. Philip Randolph, known as the "grandfather of the civil rights movement", founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, President of the Negro American Labor Council, and Vice President of the AFL-CIO, was the initiator of the March in 1963 (actually he had originated the entire concept of the March on Washington Movement in 1941), and brought together the parties that organized and led it.

    Randolph was an atheist and original signatory of the Humanist Manifesto II.

    Bayard Rustin was the chief organizer of the March, at Randolph's request. Rustin counseled Martin Luther King, Jr. on nonviolent resistance techniques based on those Rustin learned from Gandhi. He was also a prominent advocate for gay and lesbian rights, even at a time when homosexuality was outlawed in the United States.

    Rustin was an atheist (an openly gay Black atheist, to boot).

    Other organizers of the March included:

    James Farmer, president, co-founder and national director of CORE - an atheist and co-chairman of the March, also a signatory of the Humanist Manifesto II;

    James Forman, Executive Secretary of SNCC - an atheist and co-chairman of the March;

    Ella Baker, who mentored many civil rights leaders and was the inspiration behind SNCC - an atheist;

    Roy Wilkins, president and co-founder of the NAACP, co-chairman of the March, agnostic

    In fact, ALL the co-founders of the NAACP - Wilkins, Walter White, James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. DuBois - were agnostics.

    Playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of "Raisins in the Sun", who, along with legendary jazz singer Lena Horne were prominent, courageous and unapologetic life-long civil rights activists, were atheists.

    Walter Reuther, president of the UAW, was a co-chairman of the March, representing labor. He was an atheist.

    In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't join the March organizers until June 1963, after Medgar Evers was assassinated, only two months before the March took place.

    On June 22, A. Phillip Randolph, Jim Farmer (CORE), Dr. King (SCLC), John Lewis (SNCC), Roy Wilkens (NAACP), and Whitney Young (Urban League), dubbed by the press the "Big Six" of civil rights, met with President Kennedy. Half of the six were atheists/agnostics.

    Oh, incidentally, - ever heard of the ACLU? It's founder, Roger Nash Baldwin - yup, an atheist.

    It takes all of us to achieve change. Atheists are not the enemies of change.

    Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

    by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Aug 04, 2010 at 11:10:11 AM PDT

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