2022 Dr. Irving & Annabel Wolfson Lecture & Award – Mandisa L. Thomas

Mandisa L. Thomas

On Sunday, April 3, 2022, at 10:00 am the Wolfson Lecture Taskforce of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester will host the 8th Annual Dr. Irving & Annabel Wolfson Lecture & Award.  This year the lecturer and recipient of the Wolfson Award is Mandisa L. Thomas, Certified Humanist Celebrant, Founder, and President of Black Nonbelievers.  Her lecture is entitled, “Changing the Narrative: Pioneering Black Voices In History, Humanism, and Justice.” Mandisa is the first BIPOC person to receive the Wolfson Award. She will discuss the work of her organization, Black Nonbelievers. She will also speak on why the growing diversity of the humanist community is crucial to social justice, and how this work can receive better support.

Mandisa is a native of New York City and the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. Although never formally indoctrinated into belief, she was heavily exposed to Christianity, Black Nationalism, and Islam. 

Mandisa has many media appearances to her credit, including CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, and Playboy, The Humanist, and JET magazines. She has been a guest on podcasts such as The Humanist Hour and Ask an Atheist, as well as the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. Mandisa currently serves on the Board for American Atheists and the American Humanist Association, and previously for Foundation Beyond Belief, the 2016 Reason Rally Coalition, and the Secular Coalition for America. 

Mandisa was named the 2020 Harvard Humanist of the Year, the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Freethought Heroine for 2019, and was also the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association’s 2018 Person of the Year. As the president of Black Nonbelievers, Mandisa encourages more Blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of such strong religious overtones. ‘The more we make our presence known, the better our chances of working together to turn around some of the disparities we face. We are NOT alone.

Irv Wolfson
Dr. Irving Wolfson
Annabel Wolfson
Annabel Wolfson

The Wolfson Lecture and Award was founded in 2013 following the death of Dr. Irving Wolfson, one of Worcester’s first Cardiologists. The award and lecture are named for both Dr. Wolfson and his wife Annabel who was a well-known activist in the region. The first codicil to the last will and testament of Dr. Irving Wolfson reads in part, “The term “liberal religion” shall be defined as religion based solely on reason, and independent of supernatural revelation and tradition, and which religion advocates justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. . . Some portion of each annual lecture should be devoted to the following question: Irving Wolfson and Annabel Wolfson were agnostics who tried to live by the highest moral standards. From where does the motivation come to live by such standards to a person or persons who did not believe in a hereafter of rewards and punishments.”

The Lecture is open to the public and may be attended in-person or online. A reception in honor of Ms. Thomas will occur following the lecture. Please visit https://www.bit.ly/3EaAMqE to register for online participation.  The Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester is located at 90 Holden Street in Worcester, MA (at the corner of Holden Street and Shore Drive.  For directions please visit www.uucworcester.org. For more information please contact the church at 508-853-1942.