Of course, I’m glad that we have a National holiday honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What disturbs me is how far we have yet to go in the civil rights movement. I hear people talking now about the March on the Mall in Washington, yet they don’t know the March was organized by the openly gay Bayard Rustin. Hearing so many people purporting to have been present during King’s I Have a Dream Speech, also leaves me a bit bothered. We like to pretend that we are not a Nation continuing to struggle with racism. Yet we have no further to look than the current Tea Party who gave birth to the racist Birther Movement. We have no further to look than the white hetero power structure that places racists like Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as presidential candidates. It also breaks my heart that I have to underscore the unconscionable move on behalf of the GOP: this year, 34 Republican state legislatures introduced bills designed to turn voters away from the polls who cannot produce specific types of state issued ID. If all of these bills pass, roughly 21 million voters will lose their right to vote. And, it’s no coincidence that most of those voters are minorities, students, and elderly voters who vote Democrat.
I did not ever get the chance to meet Dr. King and I was a small child when he was assassinated. I did, however, get the chance to meet Coretta Scott King twice–two moments that will stay with and inspire me for the rest of my life. I remember driving to work listening to NPR on January 30th, 2006. They just announced that Coretta Scott King had passed away. I could barely drive, I was crying so hard. What a loss for all of us who work for ensuring civil rights for ALL. We still have so far to come to create true equality for our African-American brothers and sisters. We also still have huge obstacles to overcome before we have full civil rights for the LGBT community. On a holiday when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, I would also like to remember Coretta Scott King. Coretta showed great courage and her consistent indomitable spirit as she spoke for marriage equality:
I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice… But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ … I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people…We have a lot of work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say ‘common struggle,’ because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry & discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination.
As with the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the loss of Coretta Scott King, I think we are all looking for a strong leader and voice of reason that will continue to fight for equal rights for ALL. I do believe each of us can be that change–each of us can be the collective change needed if we band together and show solidarity in the face of bigotry. For those of you that follow this blog, you knew I had to include a song from Sweet Honey in the Rock.