Please welcome our new social justice intern, Morgan Terry!
TheHumanist.com: What is your educational background?
I graduated high school in 2016 and went to community college for two years before transferring to Rutgers University. I am currently a senior pursuing a degree in public policy with a minor in sociology.
How did you first learn about humanism?
I came across the term humanism unintentionally while writing a paper for a class, and I just thought to myself, “That sounds exactly like what I am.” When I got to Rutgers, I learned that there was a humanist club there and became involved. It was an amazing experience because I got to genuinely live and learn humanist values through the work we did.
Did you grow up in a traditional religious faith? If so, how did it impact you?
My parents are very devout Christians. There were times growing up—and still today—when my parents’ and my perspectives on certain issues differed. However, I still feel very fortunate because they made it a priority to teach my siblings and me that the most important aspects of our religion are to love one another, to forgive, to be charitable, and to be honest. All religions can be manipulated to cater to a certain agenda, good or bad, but I am very fortunate that my parents showed me an interpretation of Christianity centered on love and generosity. I believe that’s what ultimately motivated me to identify as a humanist.
What interested you most about interning for the AHA?
I’ve always been interested in social justice work and it’s the only thing I can really see myself doing with my life. Since I began identifying with humanism and its principles I wanted to find an opportunity to act on those beliefs. I love that the AHA is not apprehensive about saying or doing things that other social justice-focused organizations may consider to be too progressive. The AHA is one of many organizations that I think are truly leading the way in social justice activism right now.
What book has influenced you the most?
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the most inspirational book I’ve ever read. He’s a very controversial figure in history, but Malcolm X is one of my heroes, and I think that anyone who makes an effort to be truly well-read on him will discover whan an amazing man, leader, and activist he was.
If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why?
I’d invite Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and my great grandmother. I’m deeply inspired by people who go through incredible adversity and continue to do good despite it, remaining pure and turning setbacks into something exceptional. I’m also very inspired by people who perpetually make the decision to do the right thing, even when it is incredibly hard to do so. For example, Nelson Mandela sat in prison for thirty years for trying to bring an end to apartheid and speaking out against his government. He could have come out of that period of his life bitter and hardened, but instead he went on to become president of South Africa and to continue to do good for all the people of his country—black and white. That’s the type of person I try to model my life after, and those three people are some of the best examples I can think of.