Humanists Walking the Walk for Social Justice

The United Nations has recognized February 20 as World Social Justice Day since 2007. The observance of this day, according to the UN’s description, “should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social wellbeing, and justice for all.”

Humanism, as the American Humanist Association defines it, includes the “ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity,” and our chapters and affiliates demonstrate this in their daily work to support social justice efforts.

I reached out to AHA chapters and asked them to highlight some ways they’ve contributed to social justice movements. From mission statements that embed social justice as a primary motivation for the group to community gardens and secular addiction recovery programs in prisons, from interfaith efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement to efforts to improve living conditions for the homeless in their respective communities, AHA chapters across the map are no strangers to improving social wellbeing for all.

Fighting Hunger and Poverty

  • Heart-shaped potato at South Jersey Humanists Valentine’s Day event at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey

    Heart-shaped potato at South Jersey Humanists Valentine’s Day event at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey

    The Humanists Doing Good in Grand Junction, Colorado, have organized many activities that focus on providing supplies directly to the homeless population in their area. These activities include collecting coats, suppling handmade slippers and hats, providing dog food for animals belonging to homeless individuals, harvesting fruits and vegetables for community food banks, filling backpacks with useful goods and delivering them to homeless individuals, and delivering filled backpacks to homeless outreach team police officers.

  • Members of the Humanists of Houston showed their support of the homeless by actively campaigning against Houston’s ordinance against feeding the homeless. They did so by speaking out at City Hall, online, and on local news.
  • Over the last two summers, South Jersey Humanists have managed a community garden plot devoted to growing fresh produce for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CFBNJ). This garden has yielded nearly 200 poundsof vegetables so far. They have also worked in the CFBNJ warehouse and have committed to doing this quarterly.

Freedom and Justice for all Black Lives

  • berman02The South Jersey Humanists (SJH) have worked in tandem with the local Unitarian Universalist congregation, a key player in the creation of a local organization affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. SJH members joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South Jersey’s Anti-Racism Task Force with goals of “supporting black-led racial justice organizations, learning and educating (including understanding white privilege), building connections, engaging with others and responding to calls for action.” SJH president Michael Cluff designed a large “Black Lives Matter” sign for the UUs which made local news (and, unfortunately, drew the attention of many vandals).
  • Humanists of Houston used National Day of Action Houston to promote social and racial justice by participating in several Black Lives Matter demonstrations and made it onto the news several times.

Marriage Equality

  • Humanists of Houston celebrating pride at the Houston LGBT Pride Parade.

    Humanists of Houston celebrating pride at the Houston LGBT Pride Parade.

    The Humanists of Houston (YouTube video of their pride float here) participated in the Houston LGBT Pride Parade with a booth and a float for HOH—a first in the history of Houston freethought organizations—while also officially endorsing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and participating in the campaign to pass this ordinance.

  • In January, after Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order for the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Montgomery Humanists responded with a rally in support of marriage equality on the Alabama Supreme Court steps that culminated in a wedding. Xandi Andersen, president of Montgomery Humanists, spoke on humanism and the rights of all Alabama residents to marry, despite any oppressive religious views.

These are just a few examples of the good works that AHA chapters do. Local groups are not only participating in social justice activities but they are educating others in the secular community about the importance of supporting social justice efforts. For example, the Humanists of Houston were the official sponsor of last month’s Secular Social Justice Conference.

We are happy to hear from humanists across the country and around the world about what you do to advance social justice. Share with us in the comments below or email