Martin Luther King, Jr. Hub
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.
Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...
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The Republican National Committee celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech this past Monday with a luncheon. One of the speakers was Center for Neighborhood Enterprises head Bob Woodson, who is unhappy that gay, immigrant, women, and environmental issues have moved to "the front of the bus" ahead of issues facing poor black Americans. According to Woodson, “You never hear any talk about the conditions confronting poor blacks and poor people in general,” which is desmonstrably untrue with a five-second Google News search.
Woodson also takes issue with those he calls "moral traitors," Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in particular for their fierce condemnation of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, but tepid response to the murder of Chris Lane in Oklahoma.
We should pray for the families of these people just as we do the family of Trayvon Martin. We should not wait for a white face before we get outraged. Evil is evil, whether it wears a white face or not. I’m sorry to be the skunk at the garden party, but I think if Dr. King were alive today, he would step on some of these sacred issues.
Woodson received a standing ovation for his speech.
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the National Action to Realize the Dream March today on the National Mall as part of the 50th Anniversary of MLK's March on Washington, noting that King's legacy and vision have expanded to include many others, including gays and lesbians.
Said Holder, in part:
Fifty years ago, Dr. King shared his dream with the world and described his vision for a society that offered, and delivered, the promise of equal justice under law. He assured his fellow citizens that this goal was within reach – so long as they kept faith with one another, and maintained the courage and commitment to work toward it. And he urged them to do just that. By calling for no more – and no less – than equal justice. By standing up for the civil rights to which everyone is entitled. And by speaking out – in the face of hatred and violence, in defiance of those who sought to turn them back with fire hoses, bullets, and bombs – for the dignity of a promise kept; the honor of a right redeemed; and the pursuit of a sacred truth that’s been woven through our history since this country’s earliest days: that all are created equal.
Those who marched on Washington in 1963 had taken a long and difficult road – from Montgomery, to Greensboro, to Birmingham; through Selma and Tuscaloosa. They marched – in spite of animosity, oppression, and brutality – because they believed in the greatness of what this nation could become and despaired of the founding promises not kept. Their focus, at that time, was the sacred and sadly unmet commitments of the American system as it applied to African Americans. As we gather today, 50 years later, their march – now our march – goes on.
And our focus has broadened to include the cause of women, of Latinos, of Asian Americans, of lesbians, of gays, of people with disabilities, and of countless others across this country who still yearn for equality, opportunity, and fair treatment.
Watch his speech, AFTER THE JUMP...
The Washington Post is publishing live updates from today's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington:
The rally will include speeches from Attorney General Eric Holder, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others. At 12:30 p.m., a march will leave the Lincoln Memorial, pass the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and travel to the Washington Monument.
Live coverage here.
Starting with today's march, the nation will begin a series of events commemorating this historic civil rights moment leading up to the 50th anniversary on Wednesday of MLK Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech" at the Lincoln Memorial where Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Carter will speak.
Eliza Byard, the Executive Director at GLSEN, will be speaking at Wednesday's event, GLSEN reports:
Dr. Byard is the only leader of an LGBT organization selected to speak at the event.
Said Byard: “I am humbled and honored to represent GLSEN at the anniversary of one of the landmark moments in United States and world history. Dr. King and March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin are personal heroes who have inspired me and influenced our work at GLSEN to create a better world for all. GLSEN has spent more than 20 years working to eliminate injustice and inequality directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in K-12 education, and I look forward to delivering a message of hope for a brighter future where every young person has an equal opportunity to get an education.”
GLSEN partner organizations working predominantly in the South nominated Dr. Byard to speak at the event, and the King Center selected her for the honor.
In August 1963, I was the Communications Director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), led at the time by John Lewis, the march's youngest speaker that day.
A gay black man by the name of Bayard Rustin was one of the chief organizers – an early embodiment of the unity and commonality that bonded the movement for LGBT equality with the fight for equal treatment of African-Americans.
In his honor, HRC will help lead a commemoration of Bayard's incredible contributions to the civil rights movement on Monday. And it was recently announced that President Obama will posthumously award Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian award in the United States.
Fifty years later, I can still feel the power of that noble, August day. Its weight is what drove me for years – from founding the Southern Poverty Law Center, to overseeing the NAACP as Chairman, not to mention the ten terms I served as a member of the Georgia legislature. And later, that exact same commitment to achieving equal rights is what convinced me to stand with the Human Rights Campaign in endorsing marriage equality.
Together we have marched millions of miles to land on the right side of history, and today we stand firmly planted, hoping only that more will join us, one by one, until everyone in this nation is truly free and equal. I know you are with the marchers today – in spirit and in solidarity – and I hope you'll follow the news coverage of today's powerful events.
Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, a notorious homophobe who performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004, has vowed to battle "the curse of homosexuality," and believes that gays can be turned straight with religious intervention, pulled out of an MLK Memorial concert last night after objections by gay activists, the WaPo reports:
McClurkin was scheduled to perform at the D.C. government-sponsored concert with other singers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial during the “Reflections on Peace From Ghandi to King” event. But at the request of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who fielded concerns from the activists Friday, the Grammy-winning singer decided not to perform, a mayoral spokeswoman said.
“The commission on human rights and Donnie McClurkin’s management decided that it would be best for him to withdraw because the purpose of the event is to bring people together,” said Gray’s spokeswoman, Doxie McCoy. “Mayor Gray said the purpose of the event is to promote peace and harmony. That is what King was all about.”
However, McClurkin said that he was in fact “asked not to attend.”
He said in a video statement that the mayor “uninvited me from a concert that I was supposed to headline.”
McClurkin released a video statement complaining about his disinvitation.