Equal Rights


Last year this day I wrote a little post called Have A Goddamn Dream, Damn It. Go check it out. It’s not much…not all wordy and long…but I stand by it. Watch the video. LISTEN to the video. It still rings true. As does this one I’m sharing today of Dr. King’s final speech…delivered the day before his assassination.

I hear a fearless man that knows he probably should be afraid. I see a fantastic, charismatic leader ready to do the dirty work of speaking the TRUTH loud and clear, of igniting the FIRE deep in the soul of the People, and the dangerous work of standing up to “The Man” (ie The Government Machine). I see a brave captain knowing he may have to go down for the ship before giving up. He was no dummy…he knew he had enemies that wanted to shut him the fuck up.

Now, I’m not a Christian and I get pretty sick to death with all the bible-thumping, Jesus-invoking rabble-rousing so many politicians have resorted to in the past few years. But for some reason, Dr. King’s Christian God references in his last public speech…as with all his other great speeches…don’t even bother me one bit. This man was The Real Deal. He believed and he knew…and his message was right in line with the true meaning of Christianity. He meant it for helping…for FREEDOM…not for personal gain and restriction, as all these asshat rightwing conservatives have been after lately.

I hear Dr. King speaking to us HERE and NOW. His message is LOUD and CLEAR

“Somewhere I read the greatness of America is the right to protest for right!”

He was a Great Man standing up to THE Man. We need another one like him…and we need him right the fuck NOW.

Don’t let Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and everything he stood for be forgotten. Don’t let the FIRE go out! Not EVER …and especially NOT NOW.

martinLutherKingGandhi3Today is January 15, 2011. Love stating the obvious. Yep. That’s the date.

A lot of us don’t have to go to work on Monday, but few of us really appreciate why. Here’s why:

Today, 82 years ago, a little baby was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His mother Alberta named him after his father, Michael, a Baptist Minister, but when the family traveled to Europe in 1934, the Reverend decided to change both his name, and his son’s, to Martin after the German Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther.

That little boy grew up, along the way skipping both the ninth and twelfth grade and graduating high school at the age of 15 years old, then going on to college and earning is PhD in Philosophy at the amazing age of 25. He became a charismatic speaker and a leader of men and women on the road to freedom.

Then on the 28th of August in 1963, more than 2,000 buses, 21 special trains, 10 chartered airliners, and uncounted cars converged on Washington. Something like 200,000-300,000 people were part of The Great March on Washington and that little boy that grew up to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. People listened. They keep on listening. That’s what we hope, anyway.

By 1968, however, Dr. King had stirred the pot to the point where he wasn’t as popular as he once had been. He had continued to rally against the Vietnam war and to uplift and support the poor of this nation. He had made a great many enemies. He was a threat…to someone…to someone that had something done about it. Some ass-hole shot him dead.

He was only 39 years old…younger than I am now.

Today, on the birthday of that amazing man…his ACTUAL birthday, not the bank holiday…I give you his words. Take the time to read them. Take the time to realize we still have “Negroes” in this country that are not free…”Negroes” that are still crippled by the chains of discrimination.

In this time we live in, when two people that love each other cannot get married merely because of their gender, when a loving couple with a loving home can’t adopt children that need homes because they’re both the same sex and sleep together in the “biblical sense”, when men and women are beat and killed everyday because they are “gay”, and when young people…or ANYONE, for that matter…are harassed to the point where they see no other course than to take their own life…there is a mighty need to have a Dream. A Dream to End the Hate, To Find Equality and FreedomFOR ALL.

© 2011 D. Kessler

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

(Delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr., on 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.)

A few weeks ago I posted about the passing of Prop 8 in California.  More accurately, I posted a video of Keith Olbermann going off on it along with an excerpt from Atticus Circle’s website.  Well, I called that post “That’s Not All I Have to Say About That…but It’s a Start…“…so hang on to your hat…’cause I’ve got some more to say now!

Tomorrow, December 10th, is Human Rights Day and coinciding with it is a movement happening called Day without Gay in order to raise awareness of discriminatory legislation.  An excerpt of the letter I got from Atticus Circle explains it best:

This month, Join the Impact is asking for the members of the LGBT community to call in “gay” to work on December 10th, Human Rights Day, and devote their day to a non-profit organization.

Atticus Circle understands that for many in the LGBT community, calling in “gay” would jeopardize their job; for others, it could cause financial problems. We also want to give an opportunity to the thousands of straight supporters who want to participate in this event, but are unsure of how to do so.

Therefore, all we are asking from our friends and supporters on December 10th is to write at least one straight friend, asking him/her to stand with you in this civil rights struggle. You don’t need to write your own letter; we have a program on our website (www.AtticusCircle.org/DayWithoutAGay) which will send out an already drafted letter to your friend. All you need to do is fill in his/her email address. The process only takes 5 minutes, but it is really an effective way to raise awareness of discriminatory legislation, and promote Atticus Circle’s mission to advance equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.

day_without_gay_08

I live in western Washington State, as some regular readers may have already guessed.  Of a pool of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., The Emerald City (aka Seattle) is second only to San Francisco in its per capita gay population.  The Seattle Times ran an article only two years ago that estimated that 12.5% of our city’s population identifies as gay/lesbian or bisexual…seriously, check it out

Seattle is a very progressive city.  A very Eco-friendly/Green city, we place in the top 20 in the world, and the top 10 in the nation.  We have a bustling “gay district” and an activist-minded gay community.  (Closet?  What’s a closet?  We don’t need no steenkin’ closets!  Wait…yes, we do, but only for all our Fabulous Clothes!)  Seattle’s big Gay Pride Weekend is held every every year in June, culminating in the Pride Parade downtown and attended by hordes of people, straight and gay and otherwise.  Not to mention that the original Join the Impact organization is based here in Seattle…and at the demonstration march last month, we had an estimated 12,000 people march down Broadway from Volunteer Park to Westlake Center downtown!  I mean, we’ve given the world Dan Savage, for Zeus sake!

Now, Seattle/King County, in the western part of Washington, contributes the largest percentage of population to the state as a whole and this results in creating a pretty progressive state.  In the 20 years I’ve called Seattle my home, Washington State has as a whole has consistently gone Blue/Democrat across the board, even despite those what-ever-they-are-s on the other side of the Cascades (aka the mountains).  Being more agriculturally focused, Eastern Washingtonians sometimes make it hard to get some things all us Western Washingtonians want legislated state-wide, but the truth is the numbers are on this side of the mountains…and we usually all get along eventually.

My point is, even as progressive as we are, Washington State does not have legislation in place to equally protect all its citizens…no okay on gay marriage.  This breaks my heart.  This pisses me off to no end!  This makes me want to frakin’ scream and shout and quit my job to help make it happen!  (Wait…I don’t have a job right now…hmm…)  WTF is WRONG with this picture!?!

Okay, I think you get the picture.  I’ve said my piece…for now.  That said:

I am thankful I live in Seattle, the Emerald City.  I love its openness, its greenness (both eco and vegetation).  I love that I don’t need a car to get where I want.  I love that we have an exuberant gay scene, that we have a vocal activist scene, that we have a thriving kink scene.  I love that the summers ROCK and are the best  and most beautiful of any of the many places I have lived…ever. 

And that’s all I have to say about that…for now.

 

© 2008 D. Kessler