Saturday, November 04, 2006

Famous Atheists - Butterfly McQueen

I plan on starting a new feature here at Deep Thoughts. As friends and fellow atheists forward me info, I will be posting articles about famous Atheists. It seems only right. I know so little about people who have lived as atheists. Learning a little more, even if it is just a name, a face, a a period in time, well... That is enough for start. Long time Deep Thoughts reader and contributor Johnny Crow, of the Human Psyche of J.D. Crow, sent me an email about Butterfly McQueen.

McQueen lived in Aiken, South Carolina and died in Augusta, Georgia as a result of burns received when a kerosene heater she was attempting to light exploded and burst into flames. A lifelong atheist, she donated her body to medical science and remembered the Freedom From Religion Foundation in her will.

Source: Butterfly McQueen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

McQueen is best know for her roll as Prissy in Gone with the wind (1939). McQueen received her nickname of “Butterfly” when she appeared in the Harlem Theater group's production of Midsummer Night's Dream in the Butterfly ballet sequence. She was also a recipient of prestigious Freethought Heroine Award in 1989.

"As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion."

Although she was raised a Christian, she began to question the value of organized religion as a child. She related one eye-opening experience with clergy as a youngster, when she was riding a train to New York and offered to share her lunch with two young preachers. Instead of taking "one sandwich and one piece of cake, they took the whole thing."

Source: Freethought Heroine Award 1989 - Butterfly McQueen

People like Butterfly McQueen have helped pave the way for people like me to live free and openly as an Atheist. The least we can do as a community is honor her contribution by keeping her memory alive.

*** Update ***

I would like to request my atheist readers (and readers from COTG) help me on this project by submitting story ideas in the comments or as a link to the post.


Johnny Crow said...

Very nice piece, Joe. I appreciate the forethought. It's good to see those "unknown" heroes get recognized.

Aa said...

You might check into the "Freethought of the Day" over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation ( - they've highlighted Butterfly McQueen on more than one occasion.

Greg said...

Thanks for the post, I was not familiar with Butterfly McQueen before reading this. I would like to put forth one of my personal atheist heroes E. Haldeman-Julius. Haldeman-Julius published the "Little Blue Books" from the '20s until his death in the 50s. He sold millions of the Little Blue Books for 5 cents each and they included classics of Lit and works on a vast array of subjects including politics and religion. Haldeman-Julius himself wrote atheistic books and debated theists. He did all of this from the tiny town of Girard Kansas.

Mojoey said...

Thanks Greg - I'll make E. Haldeman-Julius my next subject.

Anonymous said...

So just think: Perphaps if those two young preachers hadn't been so unappreciative and displayed such terrible conduct-setting a very bad example as religious men-Miss McQueen's atheist views, she later embraced, might of turned completely around.

Anonymous said...

I bet you she isn't an atheist now.

Unknown said...

Anonymous, you are a stupid, cowardly ignoramus.