“Unite With Anybody to Do Right”: The Frederick Douglass Humanist Society of Baltimore

This Monday’s Google Doodle recognized one of the great civil rights advocates and freethought intellectuals of American history: Frederick Douglass. The American Humanist Association posted a meme that same day on their Facebook page highlighting one of Douglass’s most famous humanistic quotes: “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

Douglass is the inspiration for the group I organized, the Frederick Douglass Humanist Society of Baltimore, Maryland. We are a community that honors Frederick Douglass as one of the great advocates of civil and human rights and the pursuit of education, free inquiry, and critical thought.

The Frederick Douglass Humanist Society of Baltimore (formerly named the African American Humanist Society) was established in 2011 by Gabriel Lockett. When he resigned three years ago, Khandra Sears and I took over the Meetup group. We proposed changing the name of our organization to the Frederick Douglass Humanist Society of Baltimore to represent our inclusive culture, and the membership voted in favor. Frederick Douglass worked with many people across ethnic and cultural lines, including with women in the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements, and he had the wisdom and insight to realize that Americans are more capable of accomplishing civil rights goals together than apart.

Furthermore, Douglass was a freethinker whose views align with humanism’s universal values of equality, social equity, and the worth and dignity of all human beings. He was a very intelligent, ethical and caring man who spoke out against the evils of slavery, Christian hypocrisy, and complicity in the slave trade. Consequently, Douglass was denounced by black and white theologians and by slave owners.

As he said, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong,” which complements the motto of our organization: “There is one race—the human race.”

The Frederick Douglass Humanist Society of Baltimore advocates for humanism as a universal system of progressive secular values that convey commitments to reason, science, critical thought and human rights. We seek to create a community of shared values, experiences, and endeavors to improve society for the good of all people. We hold events such as movie presentations and discussions on topics of interest and concern to humanists, and we work together to organize and sponsor various social activities. We forge alliances with secular organizations and are a chapter of the American Humanist Association, the United Coalition of Reason, the Baltimore Ethical Society, the Washington Area Secular Humanists, the Center for Inquiry, and DC Atheists, Agnostics and Humanists.

We welcome people from all walks of life who are committed to progressive values, reason, and critical thought. Find us at the Baltimore Ethical Society at 2:00PM-4:00PM on the first Sunday of each month.