John M. Becker

Dr. King's Dream Includes LGBT People

Filed By John M. Becker | August 27, 2013 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: civil rights, intersectionality, John Lewis, LGBT civil rights, March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., pride, rainbow flag, rainbow symbol

j&m_kathyplate_ngltf.jpgOn Saturday, my husband Michael and I attended the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

We marched to show support for and solidarity with the fight for jobs and economic freedom, which is ongoing. We marched because racial injustice continues to be a cancer eating away at the fabric of this country. We marched because the struggle to preserve, protect, and expand basic civil rights for all oppressed groups requires constant vigilance.

And we marched -- proudly holding a large rainbow flag -- because we firmly believe that LGBT rights are civil rights, and because we thought it was important for our community to be visually and symbolically represented at this important event in a way that we weren't allowed to be at the original march fifty years ago.

It turns out that we weren't the only ones with those very same ideas.

At the rally that preceded the march, speaker after speaker stood up and declared that the push for LGBT equality is a part of the broader civil rights movement.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders and only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, made it perfectly clear that Dr. King's famous dream extended to all Americans:

"It doesn't matter whether we are black or white, Latino, Asian American or Native American. It doesn't matter whether we're straight or gay. We are one people."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder agreed:

"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 great country who still yearn for equality. I know that in the 21st century we will see an America that is more perfect and more fair."

Other prominent non-LGBT speakers such as Martin Luther King III, Benjamin Jealous, Wayne Henderson, and Cory Booker joined out and proud members of the LGBT community like Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, Sharon Lettman-Hicks of the National Black Justice Coalition, and Mary Kay Henry of the Service Employees International Union in advocating for LGBT equality from the speaker's podium.

IMG_9912.JPGDuring the march itself, pro-LGBT signs could be found in abundance (including the Chelsea Manning sign pictured here). Michael and I spotted quite a few marchers carrying small rainbow flags, and several of them joined us under our larger flag in an impromptu LGBT contingent. Official groups representing the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Human Rights Campaign, and other LGBT organizations participated in the march as well.

In our own little section of the march, songs broke out several times. The most popular by far was "Victory is Mine," a gospel tune that goes like this:

Victory is mine, victory is mine.
Victory today is mine.
I told Satan, "get thee behind,"
Victory today is mine.

In each verse after the first, someone in the crowd shouted out another word or phrase that the modern-day civil rights movement is fighting for, and the whole group took up the song again -- "a job is mine," "voting is mine," "justice is mine," "peace is mine."

When a person in the crowd shouted out the word "equality" and everyone -- people of all races, ages, colors, creeds -- enthusiastically launched into "equality is mine," we waved our flag proudly and a lump formed in my throat.

Our community may have been practically invisible during the March on Washington in 1963, but we sure weren't in 2013. And the civil rights movement is stronger for it.

Photograph of Michael and me at the rally via the Facebook page of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

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