A January 29th 2024 birthday celebration will highlight the anti-slavery efforts of Thomas Paine.
The on-line event, sponsored by the Secular Coalition for America, Black Nonbelievers, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Center for Inquiry, the Thomas Paine Memorial Association (TPMA), and the Freethought Society, will kick off at 4:00 PM PST/7:00 PM EST. However, pre-registration for this celebration is required, and you can secure your spot by visiting this Event Registration Link.
The timing of this celebration, which will shine a spotlight on Thomas Paine’s often-overlooked role as an abolitionist, couldn’t be more fitting as a transition into Black History Month. A highlight of the evening will be a captivating presentation by actor Ian Ruskin, who will bring to life a letter written by Paine, in which he adopts the persona of a slave addressing none other than Thomas Jefferson. This poignant letter serves as a powerful testament to Paine’s deep moral convictions and his impassioned plea for the eradication of slavery.
Dated 1808, a mere seven months before Paine’s passing, this letter is a revelation, exposing a side of Paine that many may not have encountered before. It showcases a frustrated and indignant abolitionist who had grown tired of the inaction of those who perpetuated the cruelty of slavery. Paine, a staunch advocate for equality, stands out as a Founding Father who deserves wider recognition for his commitment to justice.
The event, organized by Margaret Downey, TPMA President, and Christopher Cameron, TPMA Board Member, has also enlisted the voices of prominent Black leaders, social influencers, educators, politicians, celebrities, and other distinguished individuals who are admirers of Paine’s foresight and his warnings about the perils of continuing slavery.
The event boasts an impressive lineup of commentators and speakers who will provide their insights and perspectives throughout the evening. Some of the scheduled participants include:
- Ty Barnett, actor and writer
- Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY 16th District)
- Congresswoman Shontel M. Brown (D-OH-11th District)
- California Assembly candidate Dom Jones
- Texas physician Wil Jeudy, MD
- Richard Newman, author and African American Studies scholar
- African American religion expert Dr. Anthony Pinn
- Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08)
- Smithsonian curator Teddy Reeves
- Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-IN 5th District)
Musical performances by the talented Cynthia McDonald, a multifaceted social worker, author, public speaker, podcaster, musical artist, and freethinker, will bookend the event. Cynthia is also a member of the group Godless Gospel.
Following the event, there will be a post-event social hour, providing an opportunity for audience participation. Sculptor Zenos Frudakis will be joining us from his studio in Glenside, Pennsylvania, to unveil his clay statue of Thomas Paine. Furthermore, Thomas Paine expert Gary Berton, President of the Thomas Paine National Historical Association, will be present to answer any questions.