A. Philip Randolph

Asa Philip Randolph (April 15, 1889 – May 16, 1979) was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the American labor movement, and socialist political parties.

He organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African American labor union. In the early Civil Rights Movement, Randolph led the March on Washington Movement, which convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 in 1941, banning discrimination in the defense industries during World War II. The group then successfully pressured President Harry S. Truman to issue Executive Order 9981 in 1948, ending segregation in the armed services.

In 1963, Randolph was the head of the March on Washington, which was organized by Bayard Rustin, at which Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. Randolph inspired the Freedom budget, sometimes called the “Randolph Freedom budget”, which aimed to deal with the economic problems facing the black community.

American Humanist Association (AHA)

The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an educational organization in the United States that advances Secular Humanism, a philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms the ability and responsibility of human beings to lead personal lives of ethical fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The American Humanist Association was founded in 1941 and currently provides legal assistance to defend the constitutional rights of secular and religious minorities, actively lobbies Congress on church-state separation and other issues, and maintains a grassroots network of 150 local affiliates and chapters that engage in social activism, philosophical discussion and community-building events. The AHA has several publications, including the bi-monthly magazine The Humanist, a quarterly newsletter Free Mind, a peer-reviewed semi-annual scholastic journal Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, and a weekly Internet magazine Humanist Network News.

Humanist Manifesto III

Humanism and Its Aspirations subtitled 1., a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933 is the most recent of the Humanist Manifestos published in 2003 by the American Humanist Association (AHA). The newest one is much shorter, listing six primary beliefs, which echo themes from its predecessors:

  1. Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. (See empiricism.)
  2. Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.
  3. Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. (See ethical naturalism.)
  4. Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.
  5. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
  6. Working to benefit society maximises individual happiness.

Humanist Manifesto II (1973)

The second Humanist Manifesto was written in 1973 by Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson, and was intended to update the previous one. It begins with a statement that the excesses of Nazism and world war had made the first seem “far too optimistic”, and indicated a more hardheaded and realistic approach in its seventeen-point statement, which was much longer and more elaborate than the previous version. Nevertheless, much of the unbridled optimism of the first remained, with hopes stated that war would become obsolete and poverty would be eliminated.

Many of the proposals in the document, such as opposition to racism and weapons of mass destruction and support of strong human rights, are fairly uncontroversial, and its prescriptions that divorce and birth control should be legal and that technology can improve life are widely accepted today in the Western world. Furthermore, its proposal of an international court has since been implemented. However, in addition to its rejection of religion, various controversial stances are strongly supported, notably the right to abortion.

Humanist Manifesto I (1933)

A Humanist Manifesto, also known as Humanist Manifesto I to distinguish it from later Humanist Manifestos in the series, was written in 1933 primarily by Raymond Bragg and published with 34 signers. Unlike the later manifestos, this first talks of a new religion and refers to humanism as a religious movement meant to transcend and replace previous, deity-based systems. Nevertheless, it is careful not to express a creed or dogma. The document outlines fifteen affirmations on cosmology, biological and cultural evolution, human nature, epistemology, ethics, religion, self-fulfillment, and the quest for freedom and social justice. This latter, stated in article fourteen, proved to be the most controversial, even among humanists, in its opposition to “acquisitive and profit-motivated society” and its demand for an egalitarian world community based on voluntary mutual cooperation. The document’s release was reported by the mainstream media on May 1, simultaneous with its publication in the May/June 1933 issue of the New Humanist.

Two manifestos followed: Humanist Manifesto II in 1973 and Humanism and Its Aspirations in 2003.

Humanism

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over the acceptance of dogma or superstition. The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.

Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. In modern times, humanist movements are typically aligned with secularism, and as of 2015 “Humanism” typically refers to a non-theistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.