The Historical Contours of African American Humanist Principles: Part Two

  • Anthony B. Pinn
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series (BRWT)


For some exercising humanist principles, it is useful if not necessary to find a body of believers. That is, the conversion experience— the movement from theism to humanist principles fostered by social and personal issues unresolved by traditional systems— is often furthered by communal interaction. Such a search for relationship is noted in Benjamin May’ s work on nontheistic perspectives amongst African Americans. Shifting away from theistic perspectives may, Mays remarks, lead some “into the humanistic camp of the Haydon-Otto variety. Negroes would then seek to perfect social change by combining religious idealism and the technique of modern science without relying on God or supernatural aid. The negation of the idea of God may also drive Negroes into the communistic camp, whereby more militant or violent means would be used to achieve political and economic status.” 2


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  1. 7.
    Nell Irvin Painter, The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), 133–134.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Stokley Carmichael and Charles Hamilton, Black Power (New York: Vintage Books, 1967)Google Scholar
  3. quoted in Norman Harris, Connecting Times: The Sixties in Afro-American Fiction (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1988), 91.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    James Forman, “Corrupt Black preachers,” in The Making of Black Revolutionaries (Washington, DC: Open Hand Publishing, Inc., 1985), 58.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Huey P. Newton, in Toni Morrison, ed., To Die For The People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton (New York: Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc., 1995), 63–64.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Eldridge Cleaver, “On Becoming,” Four Vignettes found in Soul On Ice (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), 4–5.Google Scholar
  7. 22.
    Mark D. Morrison-Reed, Black Pioneers in a “White Denomination, 3rd edition (Boston: Skinner House Books, 1994), xii.Google Scholar
  8. For additional information on the Unitarian Universalist Association in Harlem see: Juan Floyd-Thomas, Creating a Temple and a Forum: Religion, Culture, and Politics in the Harlem Unitarian Church, 1920–1956 (University of Pennsylvania Dissertation, 2000)Google Scholar

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© Anthony B. Pinn 2004

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  • Anthony B. Pinn

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