The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted to announce, in association with the Women’s Leadership Project, the awardees of the Hansberry Humanist Scholarship Awards.
The state/church watchdog has helped to fund scholarships for six college students this year. The honorees were chosen by the Women’s Leadership Project, which, with Young Male Scholars, conducts school and community-based peer education programming, outreach and professional development, offering invaluable life and job training skills.
Six students with humanist orientation have been chosen for the awards. They are:
Zorrie Petrus $500 (El Camino College)
Arrai Lugo $500 (El Camino College)
Ashantee Polk $500 (Los Angeles City College)
Kim Ortiz $1000 (California State University Los Angeles)
Liz Tecuapetla $1000 (Cerritos College)
Deaven Rector $500 (Howard University Law School)
The award memorializes Lorraine Hansberry, the playwright, who famously wrote in 1964: “Though it be a thrilling and marvelous thing to be merely young and gifted in such time, it is doubly so — doubly dynamic — to be young, gifted and Black.” Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959), was the first drama by a Black woman produced on Broadway. Winner of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, it was loosely based on her own experiences when her parents bought a house in a white neighborhood and were greeted by a racist mob, sparking her parents’ civil rights case. The play’s heroine, Beneatha, notably, is a “self-avowed” atheist who gets slapped by her mother for admitting it. The title for the play came from a line in a poem by another freethinker, Langston Hughes.
Participating students meet weekly with program coordinators and interns and are trained in sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention, LGBTQ+ youth leadership outreach and homeless education. They elect their own group officers and assume responsibility for campus outreach and other communications, writing blogs, articles, poems and crafting video. They initiated two youth-facilitated forums on Black homeless women, anti-racism and mental health, as well as LGBTQ+ Youth of Color and mental health sexual harassment and campus climate.
“We express our appreciation for Sikivu Hutchinson, a founder of Black Skeptics Los Angeles, for her work with the Women’s Leadership Project and for making FFRF’s participation in this worthy cause possible,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. Hutchinson received FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award at its annual convention in Boston last year.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.