Butterfly McQueen

On this day in 1911, Butterfly McQueen was born in Tampa, Fla. Best known for her role as "Prissy" in the 1939 MGM movie "Gone with the Wind," Butterfly was a nearly lifelong atheist. The role of Prissy, she would later say, "was not a pleasant part to play--I didn't want to be that little slave. But I did my best, my very best." She quit movie acting in 1947 to avoid further typecasting, going to work as a real-life maid, Macy's saleslady, and seamstress. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science in 1974 at age 64 from the New York City College. Butterfly McQueen became the Freedom From Religion Foundation's premiere Freethought Heroine in 1989. The Life Member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation died in a tragic accident on Dec. 22, 1995.

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

—Butterfly McQueen, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Oct. 8, 1989

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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