This talk will explore the origins of black freethought among 19th century slaves, many of whom could not reconcile notions of a loving God with their condition on Earth. The talk will then examine the intersection of freethought with twentieth century cultural and political movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, radical leftist politics, and the Black Power movement. Cameron argues that religious skepticism was prevalent among some of the most prominent voices in African American history, including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, A. Phillip Randolph, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Huey Newton, and Alice Walker.
Christopher Cameron is Professor of History and Interim Chair of the Africana Studies department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.