Freethought Almanac

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January 8: Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen (1911)

It was on this date, January 8, 1911, that actress Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen was born in Tampa, Florida, the daughter of a stevedore and a domestic worker. Although she was raised a Christian, she began to question the value of organized religion as a child. She gave up her study of nursing to become an actress and dancer in New York and achieved some measure of success. She won her nickname, “Butterfly,” in the Butterfly Ballet sequence of Harlem Theater group’s 1935 Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps as a tribute to her fluttering hands.

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Originally published January 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

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