LGBT and Social Justice Leaders Gather to Honor 50th Anniversary of March on Washington
Leaders of the LGBT community are cooperating with the organizers of the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington, where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have A Dream,” to participate in a weeklong series of events calling for equal rights for minorities and the LGBT community and celebrating the historic civil rights March.
Though the leaders of these communities can agree that a considerable amount of progress has been made since the original march 50 years ago, they believe this memorable anniversary is a time to rally for continued change. Additionally, the organized leaders hope to sway congress to pass the equal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is compiled of over 200 national organizations and make up the nation’s leading civil rights coalition.
Wayne Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference, lead a press call Tuesday where leaders and participates of this week’s events discussed the important issues that continue to limit equality in the country.
“The 1963 March on Washington, which our nation will commemorate over this weekend and over the next several days, was the single most transformative demonstration in the 20th century; leading to the passage of civil rights legislation that has helped shape our 21st century democracy,” Henderson said.
Henderson also introduced many of the issues he said are still limiting the amount of equality the nation provides its citizens such as the voting rights act, minority’s unemployment rates, broken immigration laws and unrelenting discrimination on the LGBT community.
“One of the issues and it’s really important to underscore this, that this march is really not a look back at the commemoration 50 years ago, it’s really a look ahead,” Henderson said about what the march hoped to represent.
The LGBT community is playing a large role in this year’s march, a change for an event they weren’t able to openly participate in previ.
President of The Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, called attention to Bayard Rustin, the original organizer of The March who couldn’t receive recognition for his contribution then because he was a gay African-American.
“His role in the fight for civil rights of African-Americans is all the more admirable because he made it as a gay man,” Griffin said. “Experiencing prejudice not just because of his race, but because of his sexual orientation as well,”
Bayard Rustin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Pres. Barack Obama this month for his participation in the original March on Washington. The award, which is the highest award that could be given to a civilian in the United States, was announced 26 years after Rustin’s death.
“And he lived and died without the true recognition of the life will commitment to equality,” Griffin said. “And the lesson here is that change is possible if in fact we fight for it.”
Griffin said that the coalition of participants this year have to urge congress to restore the voting rights act and make a commitment to employment fairness by passing ENDA and immigration reform to ensure every hardworking person in the nation can earn their keep.
Sharon Lettman-Hicks is executive director and chief executive officer of the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering the black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Lettman-Hicks applauded Pres. Obama for finally recognizing Rustin who she said “was a black and gay activist for freedom and peace during a time when the conditions of both of these identities were paresis.”
“He lived his life in the intersection and never shrugged from his identity,” Lettman-Hicks said.
Melanie Campbell is a key organizer of the march and president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), which strives to bring diverse communities together for a greater good.
The overall theme of the march is “Freedom, Jobs, Peace and Social Justice,” Campbell explained which adheres to all types of social justice from women’s rights and LGBT equality to worker’s rights.
Deputy Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Taskforce Rev. Darlene Nipper, says the theme of the March then is just as relevant now.
“The importance of congress passing the employment nondiscrimination act is so critical not only to the LGBT community specifically but also to people of color,” Rev. Nipper said.
Rev. Nipper also pointed out that the unemployment rate in the transgender community is double that of the nation’s general population and there is still lots of work to be done.
The leaders of these groups are looking forward to working together to bring light to the injustice they say the nation is still struggling with.
The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington will take place on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 8 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial followed by a march to the King Memorial.
The “godly folk” are going absolutely berserk in response to Barack Obama’s signing of a presidential executive order barring that bans federal government contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The volumes of spittle flying from the flapping jaws of the professional Christian class and hate group leaders is off the charts. [...]July 22, 2014
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