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Civil Rights Hero Bayard Rustin, Astronaut Sally Ride Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom Posthumously: VIDEO


President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, to 16 people, including two gay people, both posthumously: Bayard Rustin and Sally Ride.

Also receiving the honor: Ernie Banks, Ben Bradlee, Bill Clinton, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Kahneman, Richard Lugar, Loretta Lynn, Mario Molina, Arturo Sandoval, Dean Smith, Gloria Steinem, Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, Patricia Wald, and Oprah Winfrey.

Watch the full ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP...

RustinObama's remarks about Rustin (via transcript)

Now, early in the morning the day of the March on Washington, the National Mall was far from full and some in the press were beginning to wonder if the event would be a failure.  But the march’s chief organizer, Bayard Rustin, didn’t panic.  As the story goes, he looked down at a piece of paper, looked back up, and reassured reporters that everything was right on schedule.  The only thing those reporters didn’t know was that the paper he was holding was blank.  (Laughter.)  He didn’t know how it was going to work out, but Bayard had an unshakable optimism, nerves of steel, and, most importantly, a faith that if the cause is just and people are organized, nothing can stand in our way. 

So, for decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King’s side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay.  No medal can change that, but today, we honor Bayard Rustin’s memory by taking our place in his march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.

RideAnd Sally Ride:

We salute innovators who pushed the limits of science, changing how we see the world -- and ourselves.  And growing up, Sally Ride read about the space program in the newspaper almost every day, and she thought this was “the coolest thing around.”  When she was a PhD candidate at Stanford she saw an ad for astronauts in the student newspaper and she seized the opportunity.  As the first American woman in space, Sally didn’t just break the stratospheric glass ceiling, she blasted through it.  And when she came back to Earth, she devoted her life to helping girls excel in fields like math, science and engineering.  “Young girls need to see role models,” she said, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”  Today, our daughters -- including Malia and Sasha -- can set their sights a little bit higher because Sally Ride showed them the way.

A military aide later spoke about them again as their partners accepted:

Tam O’Shaughnessy (top photo) accepting on behalf of her life partner, Dr. Sally K. Ride.  (Applause.)  Thirty years ago, Dr. Sally K. Ride soared into space as the youngest American and first woman to wear the Stars and Stripes above Earth’s atmosphere.  As an astronaut, she sought to keep America at the forefront of space exploration.  As a role model, she fought tirelessly to inspire young people -- especially girls -- to become scientifically literate and to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.  At the end of her life, she became an inspiration for those battling pancreatic cancer, and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.  The tale of a quiet hero, Sally Ride’s story demonstrates that the sky is no limit for those who dream of reaching for the stars.  (Applause.)

Walter Naegle accepting on behalf of his partner, Bayard Rustin.  (Applause.)  Bayard Rustin was a giant in the American Civil Rights Movement.  Openly gay at a time when many had to hide who they loved, his unwavering belief that we are all equal members of a “single human family” took him from his first Freedom Ride to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights movement.  Thanks to his unparalleled skills as an organizer, progress that once seemed impossible appears, in retrospect, to have been inevitable.  Fifty years after the March on Washington he organized, America honors Bayard Rustin as one of its greatest architects for social change and a fearless advocate for its most vulnerable citizens.  (Applause.) 

Watch the full ceremony, AFTER THE JUMP...

If individual clips become available, I'll add them below.

Continue reading "Civil Rights Hero Bayard Rustin, Astronaut Sally Ride Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom Posthumously: VIDEO" »

Bayard Rustin, the Almost Forgotten, Gay Civil Rights Hero

Bayard Rustin

Buzzfeed contributor Steven Thrasher has written an extensive biography of the gay man who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and co-organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He details the life of the man who was instrumental in forwarding equality, first for the black community and then for the gay community. There is simply far too much to summarize here and it is a must-read for anyone not familiar with this important figure in the movement for equality.

GLSEN's Eliza Byard Speaks at 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington: AUDIO


GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard spoke earlier today at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Byard addressed hailed gay civil rights hero Bayard Rustin and noted the work that still must be done against homophobia and toward full equality for all people.


(via good as you)

Continue reading "GLSEN's Eliza Byard Speaks at 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington: AUDIO" »

Bayard Rustin to Be Inducted into Labor Department's Hall of Honor


As we mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington today, Labor Secretary Tom Perez writes on the White House blog that in addition to Obama's decision to posthumously award gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Perez is also going to correct a longstanding oversight:

PerezI feel compelled, as secretary of labor, to pay tribute to him as well. My very first day on the job last month, I toured our department's Hall of Honor to see the heroic Americans enshrined there – Frances Perkins, A. Philip Randolph, Cesar Chavez and others. But where was Bayard Rustin?

He was one of our most tenacious fighters for the rights of workers, for collective bargaining, for the role unions play in expanding economic opportunity. The 1963 March on Washington that he organized – the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” as we all know, was the full name – was conceived as a demonstration against economic injustice. He understood as well as anyone that these two movements – civil rights and labor rights – are inextricably intertwined and their goals essentially the same.

So, I am correcting a longstanding oversight by formally inducting Bayard Rustin into the Labor Department's Hall of Honor.

Rustin was an openly gay man during a time of fear and intolerance. There was no Human Rights Campaign. There was no Pride Month. There was no “It Gets Better” campaign featuring some of the most visible public figures in America. Nope, “it gets better” was just something you had to believe when you told it to yourself.

Civil Rights Hero Bayard Rustin, Astronaut Sally Ride to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Two LGBT heroes are among 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom announced today by President Obama. The award is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

RustinFrom the White House announcement:

Sally Ride (posthumous)

Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to travel to space.  As a role model to generations of young women, she advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish.  Dr. Ride also served in several administrations as an advisor on space exploration.

Bayard Rustin (posthumous)

Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all.  An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad.  As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.

Also receiving the honor: Ernie Banks, Ben Bradlee, Bill Clinton, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Kahneman, Richard Lugar, Loretta Lynn, Mario Molina, Arturo Sandoval, Dean Smith, Gloria Steinem, Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, Patricia Wald, and Oprah Winfrey.

News: New Mexico, Tom Cruise, MRSA, Jesus Kidnap, Mariah Carey

road.jpg Domestic partners bill revived in New Mexico.

Efronroad.jpg Zac Efron treats paparazzi to unique version of 'Blue Moon'.

road.jpg Anti-gay marriage speakers meet with resistance from Vermont audience after proclaiming "Marriage can be the union between man and woman or it can be the union of any two people. Vermont cannot have both." Audience member: "It's nonsensical that marriage can't have multiple meanings. That's simply scare tactics." Outright Vermont launches statewide outreach effort: "A rainbow-colored bumper sticker, a "queer-mobile" that travels to remote and rural areas, paid spots on the radio, an online resource and a monthly newsletter are all strategies for a queer youth visibility campaign launched Thursday in Burlington. Outright Vermont, the state's largest 'queer' organization in its 20th year that works specifically with youths, wants to make Vermont the most "queer-friendly" state in the country – one person at a time."

road.jpg Tom Cruise producing partner Paula Wagner speaks out about Scientology video leaks: "I am not a Scientologist, nor are most of the people Tom and I work with, but that doesn't mean I can sit by silently while he is attacked for his religious beliefs. As a film-maker and an American, I feel strongly that an individual's religion should have no bearing on their professional life."

road.jpg Actress Suzanne Pleshette dies at 70.

Manselroad.jpg Michigan neighborhood kidnaps devout dachshund owner's Jesus statuette: "We are holding Jesus ransom until you clean up the poopie from your wieners and trust us we see you take your wieners for long walks w/out picking up their poopie in our yards. This has upset us dearly so please clean up all the weiner poopie, if you want to see Jesus unharmed."

road.jpg Gay porn Marine Matt Sanchez paranoid that a "gay jihadist" stalker/crank caller is out to defame him!

road.jpg NYT on how the MRSA staph 'superbug' story went viral: "On Monday, a team of researchers led by doctors from the University of California at San Francisco announced that gay men were “many times more likely than others” to acquire a new strain of drug-resistant staphylococcus, a nasty, fast-spreading and potential lethal bacteria known as MRSA USA300. And sure enough, the study, published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was quickly picked up by reporters round the world and across the Internet, including a London tabloid which dubbed the disease 'the new H.I.V.' But for gay men in the Castro neighborhood here, which was an early epicenter for the AIDS epidemic and a current hot spot for MRSA, the report also seemed to cast an unfair, and all too familiar, stigma on their sexuality."

road.jpg High school principal apologizes for inviting anti-gay pastor Ken Hutcherson to give lecture to students on civil rights.

road.jpg Paula Abdul wants you to dance like there's not tomorrow.

Glaciersroad.jpg Could volcanoes be facilitating the melt of the Antarctic glaciers? "In an article published Sunday on the Web site of the journal Nature Geoscience, Hugh Corr and David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey report the identification of a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica. 'This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet' in Antarctica, Vaughan said."

road.jpg That chick Mariah Carey dishes out new album cover.

road.jpg Spencer Livermore: the most powerful gay man in British politics.

road.jpg LOGO to screen Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin all week.

road.jpg Indiana wingnuts irate at lawmaker's refusal to hear proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage: "Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who is chairman of the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee, said today that the most urgent issue facing the state is property taxes, not same-sex marriage, which already is banned by Indiana law. 'I’m not planning on having a hearing,' Pelath said. 'The short session (of the legislature) was designed to deal with emergencies. We have a very serious problem with the property tax system, and we don’t have any gay marriages in Indiana.' The Senate committee plans to debate the amendment Thursday, but Eric Miller, who has pushed for passage of the amendment as founder of the conservative group Advance America, called that 'disingenuous.' The legislature, he said, is dealing with plenty of issues besides property tax reform and has the time to debate and vote on this amendment before its March 14 deadline."


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