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Humanist Hub Celebrates Humanist Community Day

By Michelle J. Hu, Contributing Writer

An award-winning author who is also a former NBA star and local community members gathered to discuss the importance of humanism at the third annual Humanist Community Day at the Humanist Hub on Sunday.

The event featured keynote addresses by John U. E. Amaechi, a former NBA player who came out as gay after his career in a best selling book, and Sasha Sagan, a writer and film producer. Gregory M. Epstein, the University’s Humanist Chaplain and the executive director of the Humanist Hub, presented the Humanist of the Year award to Amaechi.

The Humanist Hub is a Cambridge-based initiative committed to helping people lead ethical lives outside the sphere of religion. Founded in 1974 as the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, the organization now serves humanists, atheists, and agnostics at the University as well as in the Boston community, according to its website.

“This event is also for the Harvard community and Cambridge community to know what humanism is—to connect, act, and to contribute more to the world… not necessarily in a religious context,” said Erik M. Gregory, a member of the Humanist Hub.

This conference coincided with the second anniversary of the Humanist Hub. At its opening two years ago, former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78 declared December 8 to be “Humanist Community Day.” Since then, the local Humanist community has grown tremendously in size and mission, according to Sarah Chandonnet, an organizer of the conference.

The growing community has attracted people like local resident Ben Datema, who knew “not a soul” in Boston when he moved here two years ago.

“I came to the Hub, and since then have gotten involved in a lot of programs and efforts to make the world a better place,” said Datema, who volunteered at the event.

During their keynote speeches, Amaechi and Sagan shared their own understandings of humanism. To Amaechi, humanism means being “present, attentive, and mindful” of how one’s behaviors can affect others. Sagan said humanism is a philosophy that can redefine a person’s outlook on the world.

“Humanism is about…the spine-tingling chill that you get when you get a sense of your place in the universe,” she said.

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