The following is from HRC Associate Director of Diversity Donna Payne:
On Saturday, August 28, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network came together with other civil rights organizations to celebrate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The backdrop of that celebration however was around the Glenn Beck and the Tea Party sponsored rally in the same place that Dr. King spoke in 1963. Their event did not stop the civil rights organizations from commemorating that day as they have done for the past 47 years. Rev. Sharpton led the way to celebrate at the “Reclaim the Dream” Rally/March. Inclusion has always been first with the National Action Network, so LGBT civil rights organizations were asked to participate. HRC along with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Black Justice Coalition came together to support the march and I was proud to be a speaker for the LGBT community.
The morning started with a religious gathering given by One Nation Working Together and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). The Interfaith program gave you the feel of how the elder civil rights leaders would start out the march by having prayer and singing together. One Nation Working Together is a broad range of civil rights, labor, faith, immigration rights, and progressive organizations. They will be leading a march on the Mall on Oct. 2, 2010 and all of the LGBT organizations will participate.
The rally began at 11am at Dunbar High School and followed by a march to the new site of the MLK Memorial. The important thing to remember is that the LGBT civil rights movement is working with their allies to keep the commitment in fulfilling the dream. We want an equal playing field that grants everyone access to education, healthcare, employment, and liberty and freedom. We also come in memory of one of our own – Bayard Rustin, an African American openly gay man who was a trusted adviser to Dr. King and the architect of the historic 1963 march on the mall.
Payne’s remarks as prepared for the event follow:
My name is Donna Payne and I am here today representing the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community. I am here as an African American lesbian– we are here together, Natl Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Natl Black Justice Coalition and the Human Rights Campaign because we want to renew our commitment in fulfilling the dream. We may occupy a different room being that we are gay or lesbian, but we all live in the same house. When injustice knocks, it’s the same door for all of us. BUT when we stand together, we build a world that gives everyone equal access. That is why I am here.
It is an honor to stand in solidarity with other activists. Reclaiming the Dream today strikes the same fire inside our soul of what Dr. Martin Luther King wanted for us all. An equal playing field that truly grants everyone access to education, health care, employment, and liberty and freedom. Our participation in the civil rights movement is nothing new. In fact, many of you know that Bayard Rustin, an African-American openly gay man, was a trusted advisor to Dr. King and the architect of this historic march that we’re here to commemorate today. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people have been and will continue to be actively engaged in the fight for justice and socioeconomic equality. Our support is not about “just us”- lgbt equality, but about JUSTICE for all of us. We were there 47 years ago and we will be with you in the future.
Our united front is an unstoppable force and we will honor Dr. King’s memory by working together to “Reclaim the Dream” for all of us!