Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


There are 4 entries for this date: Ralph Miliband , Zora Neale Hurston , John E. Remsburg and Giuliano Ferrara
Ralph Miliband

Ralph Miliband

On this date in 1924, Adolphe Miliband, later known as Ralph Miliband, was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. His parents were Polish Jews who migrated in the 1920s to Brussels, where they met and married. The Miliband family relocated to London in 1940, fleeing the Nazi invasion of Belgium. In London, Miliband changed his first name to Ralph to avoid any connotation to Adolf Hitler. At age 16, Miliband visited the grave of Karl Marx in London to swear allegiance to “the workers’ cause” (“Labourism and socialism: Ralph Miliband’s Marxism” by Paul Blackledge in International Socialist, January 2011). Miliband studied at the London School of Economics under the British Marxist historian and theorist Harold Laski, who greatly influenced Miliband’s politics. Miliband broke from his studies to serve in the Royal Navy, and returned to LSE to graduate in 1947. Miliband then earned a scholarship for Ph.D. research at LSE, at which time Laski arranged for Miliband to teach at Roosevelt College (now Roosevelt University) in Chicago. In 1949, Miliband became a lecturer in political science at LSE.

Miliband co-founded, with E.P. Thompson, John Saville, Raphael Samuel, Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall, the New Reasoner and New Left Review, radical journals that represented the British New Left during the 1950s. In 1964, Saville and Miliband established the Socialist Register journal, influenced by Miliband’s friend C. Wright Mills. Miliband began teaching at the University of Leeds in 1972, and spent time teaching at other universities in the United States and Canada. He argued after the mid-1960s that a better, more revolutionary alternative to the British Labour Party needed to be established. His promotion of a Marxist style of revolutionary socialism influenced generations of socialist scholars and leaders, including Tariq Ali. Miliband married one of his former LSE students, Marion Kozak, in 1961. They raised their two sons, David and Edward, in a secular lifestyle. Ironically, Miliband, who critiqued the Labour Party in his book, Parliamentary Socialism (1961), had two sons who rose to great power in the Labour Party. Both sons vied for the party Leader position, with Ed winning by a narrow margin in 2010. Miliband was the author of The State in Capitalist Society (1969), Marxism and Politics (1977), Capitalist Democracy in Britain (1982), Class Power and State Power (1983), Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism (1989) and Socialism for a Skeptical Age (1994). He is buried near Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery in North London. D. 1994.

“The political climate in our house was generally and loosely left: it was unthinkable that a Jew, our sort of Jew, the artisan Jewish worker, self-employed, poor, Yiddish-speaking, unassimilated, non-religious, could be anything but socialistic.”

—Ralph Miliband in a note for his unpublished political autobiography, quoted in The New Statesman, “Ralph Miliband, father of the Labour leadership rivals David and Ed, is remembered as a great teacher,” by Jonathan Derbyshire, Aug. 30, 2010

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

On this date in 1891, novelist, folklorist and short story writer Zora Neale Hurston was born in Eatonville, Fla., the first all-black community to be incorporated in the United States. Her mother was a country schoolteacher and her father a Baptist preacher, who became 3-term mayor of Eatonville. "My head was full of misty fumes of doubt," she would later write. "Neither could I understand the passionate declarations of love for a being that nobody could see. Your family, your puppy and the new bull-calf, yes. But a spirit away off who found fault with everybody all the time, that was more than I could fathom" ("Religion," see quote below.) Zora was farmed out to relatives when her mother died in 1904. By 14 she had left town to work as a maid for whites. As a live-in maid she enrolled at Morgan Academy in Baltimore. She attended Howard University, intermittently, between 1918-1924, while working as a manicurist, and maid for prominent blacks. She moved to New York City in 1925 with "$1.50, no job, no friends, and a lot of hope," into the midst of the Harlem Renaissance. Her short story, "Spunk" (1925), brought her notice. Fannie Hurst, author of Imitation of Life (1933), gave her a job. Another white patroness arranged a scholarship for her at Barnard College. Hurston graduated in 1928 and did graduate study at Columbia, where her talents caught the eye of an anthropology professor, who suggested she incorporate anthropology into her writing. A commission by a wealthy white patron to collect folklore stymied her career, since the contract barred Hurston from writing. In 1933, Hurston wrote her best-known story, "The Gilded Six-Bits." Her first novel, Jonah's Gourd Vine, debuted in 1934, followed by Mules and Men (1937), Tell My Horse (1937) and the classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). In all, she wrote seven books, plus her memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942). Many of her short stories were published in magazines and anthologies. Hurston married twice, but neither marriage lasted. Hurston was forced to take diverse "day jobs" to support her writing, from working as a drama instructor at North Carolina College for Negroes at Durham (1939), to working as a maid once again in 1950. She suffered a stroke in 1959, died at a welfare home, and was buried in an unmarked grave in a segregated cemetery in Fort Pierce, Florida. Writer Alice Walker revived interest in Hurston in the 1970s. A Zora Neale Hurston reader, I Love Myself When I am Laughing . . . and Then Again When I am Looking Mean and Impressive, was published in 1979. The Complete Stories came out in 1995. D. 1960.

“Strong, self-determining men are notorious for their lack of reverence.

. . . Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down. I do not choose to admit weakness. I accept the challenge of responsibility. Life, as it is, does not frighten me, since I have made my peace with the universe as I find it, and bow to its laws. The ever-sleepless sea in its bed, crying out 'How long?' to Time; million-formed and never motionless flame; the contemplation of these two aspects alone, affords me sufficient food for ten spans of my expected lifetime. It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish. I feel no need for such. However, I would not, by word or deed, attempt to deprive another of the consolation it affords. It is simply not for me. Somebody else may have my rapturous glance at the archangels. The springing of the yellow line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me. I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms. When the consciousness we know as life ceases, I know that I shall still be part and parcel of the world. I was a part before the sun rolled into shape and burst forth in the glory of change. I was, when the earth was hurled out from its fiery rim. I shall return with the earth to Father Sun, and still exist in substance when the sun has lost its fire, and disintegrated into infinity to perhaps become a part of the whirling rubble of space. Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.”

—Zora Neale Hurston, "Religion," from Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston (1942), anthologized in African-American Humanism: An Anthology edited by Norm R. Allen Jr. (1991)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

John E. Remsburg

John E. Remsburg

On this day in 1848, John E. Remsburg was born in Ohio. He became a freethought lecturer and writer, settling in Kansas. His many books include Life of Thomas Paine (1880), False Claims (1883), Was Lincoln a Christian (1893), Was Washington a Christian (1899) and Six Historic Americans (1906). D. 1919.

“The name of Christ has caused more persecutions, wars, and miseries than any other name has caused. The darkest wrongs are still inspired by it.”
 

—John E. Remsburg, Preface, The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence (1909)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Giuliano Ferrara

Giuliano Ferrara

On this date in 1952, Giuliano Ferrara was born in Rome, Italy. He served as chief organizer for the Italian Communist Party in his 20s. Ferrarra left the Communist party in 1982 and became known for being a conservative and strong advocate against abortion. During Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s first seven-month term in 1994, Giuliano served as Berlusconi’s cabinet spokesman, senior aid and chief political strategist. In 1996, he founded the controversial daily newspaper Il Foglio, published in Rome, and became its editor in chief. He has also hosted the popular Italian talk show “8 ½.” In 2008, Ferrara unsuccessfully ran for the Italian Parliament on an anti-abortion platform.

In 2008, Ferrarra was described in the New York Times as an “avowed atheist and nonbeliever.” He refers to himself as a “devout atheist,” according to an April 8, 2008 Independent article.

“I’m still a nonbeliever, even though my idea of reason is the idea of a reason which is open to mystery.” 

—Giuliano Ferrara, to The New York Times, April 6, 2008

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.