This past weekend, myself and members of Black Nonbelievers participated in the official Juneteenth celebration at Centennial Park in Atlanta. For three days, we were among many vendors, and hundreds of attendees and performers for the 156th commemoration of when slavery “ended” in the United States.
On June 17th, President Biden signed a law which made Juneteenth a national holiday. And here at BN, we acknowledge this as an accomplishment, however, we cannot dismiss the historical and institutional complexities that still plague this country, and which directly affect the Black community.
The significance of Juneteenth is liberation, but most of the celebrations are steeped in religion. And this past weekend was no different. In Atlanta, we witnessed so many references to god from local politicians and musicians, as well as a church service from the main stage led by New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and their scandalous leader, Jamal Bryant. This display, along with the feature of “Black Conscious” charlatan Umar Johnson at the festival, is a sobering reminder of our Black communities’ adherence to religious dogma.
However, we encountered quite a few fellow nonbelievers and religion doubters among the Juneteenth crowds. And with the rise of religious nones, it is now more important than ever for us to be present at these annual commemorations of Black liberation.
So, we need your help to continue our work. Not only do we represent atheism, humanism, etc, we unapologetically exude Blackness in all its vibrancy. As this is also Pride month, our LGBTQ+ family must not be denied their rightful place in our communities.
To quote the iconic actress “Butterfly” McQueen, “As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery known as religion”.
Founder and President, Black Nonbelievers
“Walking by Sight, NOT Faith!”