Roughly 94% of Howard University’s undergraduates and 85% of its graduate students are African American. While statistics are not available, it’s reasonable to believe that a similar number are theists. It’s surprising, given his childhood inclinations, that the school’s most visible atheist, Ph.D. candidate Mark Hatcher, has become a public advocate for secularism. He was quiet, reserved, and unsure of himself as a kid, and his family thought that he would become a pastor -- a prestigious role in the black community -- because of his propensity to lead his family in prayer. He believed that in order to be a good person, he needed to be an active member of his church.
Mark’s education has always shaped his perspective of the world. A high school class on the world’s religions taught him about faiths other than Christianity, and his first evolutionary biology class his freshman year at the University of Maryland described the natural creation of life on Earth. While he admits that it can be quite lonely to be a black atheist, he’s happy to have his worldview, for its accuracy and the loving secular community he has found.