A dream, a movement, and a hero

March on WashingtonThis Wednesday, August 28, marks a momentous anniversary, 50 years since hundreds of thousands of people poured into Washington, D.C. for the March on Washington, the “march of marches” in the civil rights movement. It was on this day, 50 years ago, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his immortal speech, and though his soaring finish has been quoted and replayed millions of times – if not quite as many as the “I have a dream” section – still his words bear remembering: 

 

When we let 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!

(Full text available here.)

I imagine that, if he spoke today, Dr. King would expand the list of those “able to join hands” those he named explicitly in 1963. But the call for freedom, for freedom “at last,” remains as indispensable a call in 2013 as it was a half-century ago.

More than a “civil rights” march
This week’s anniversary could hardly be more timely. While the past June brought thrilling news for LGBT rights, the same court also gutted the Voting Rights Act just the day before Windsor and Perry came down. Continue reading

Another hero leaves us

Sarria ThumbnailHeroes and heroines fill the LGBT history books. Then there are the countless thousands whose courage and contributions may not have made it into any history books – but have helped make history all the same.

And there are some who’ve written whole pages in those books. Among those was José Sarria, who died, far from the city he helped shape, two days ago. In the 1950s and 60s, Sarria was the soul of the famous Black Cat Bar at the edge of North Beach, where countless people went to be entertained, to be among their LGBT kin, and to be safe – the regular police raids notwithstanding – from a hostile and uncomprehending world outside the club’s doors. Continue reading