Meeting Report

February 15, 2015

Joint Panel Discussion with Black Humanists and Non-Believers of Sacramento

HAGSA was delighted to host the Black Humanists for our panel discussion.

Black Humanists and Non-Believers of Sacramento is an outreach and educational community group for African American atheists, humanists, non-believers, skeptics, agnostics and for those who are questioning their religious beliefs and are seeking information on atheism, humanism, etc. in a supportive and judgment-free environment. The group holds educational forums and socials for the community.

February is celebrated every year as Black History Month.

Our guest panelists were Bakari Chavenu and Iolande Vitt Argent PhD. HAGSA panelists were Wayne Luney and Roger Zabkie. Bill Potts moderated, starting the meeting with a description of a heart-wrenching presentation by the only black speaker at the 1992 American Humanist Association Conference in Seattle.

One of the first subjects discussed was the historical significance of the church in the lives of black Americans. Even today, there is powerful pressure to conform in the community, with almost everyone being active in their church. The main goal of the Black Humanists is to counterbalance this pressure by providing a safe environment where nonbelievers can meet others like them.

In line with this subject, the question arose as to Humanism’s tradition in regard to cultural diversity and other burning issues of our time. Is Humanism only a discussion platform or does it actively advocate for progressive change? Is Humanism, as one member put it, like a gerbil in a running wheel, having no real effect on anything, or do we actually aim to accomplish something?

HAGSA board member Tom Ikelman recommended that HAGSA affiliate with Black Humanists and Non-Believers of Sacramento. Although the five other board members present at the meeting were very much in favor of this, it was decided that details, including the proposed structure of the relationship, be worked out at the next HAGSA board meeting (which would of course include Black Humanist board members).

It’s safe to say that the approximately thirty of us in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the spirited discussion that characterized the meeting. Thank you, Dr. Argent and Mr. Chavenu, for your time and thoughts!

Report prepared by Roger Zabkie


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