Bayard Rustin, the openly gay activist and advisor to Martin Luther King Jr., would have turned 100 this year. To mark Rustin’s centennial, Atlanta’s Stonewall Month features a three-part discussion of his legacy.
“Lessons Learned: Then and Now” is based on the new book “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters.” The discussion series is set for June 5, 12 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Charis Books & More.
“Bayard Rustin has been referred to as the ‘lost prophet’ of the civil rights movement. A master strategist, he is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests held in the U.S.,” said Lorraine Fontana, lead organizer of the lecture series, in a press release. “He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement and had major influence upon Martin Luther King, Jr.’s growth and leadership.”
Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast
The 11th annual Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast was held Jan. 16, 2012, at St. Mark United Methodist Church as part of the official Martin Luther King Jr. march's events. More than 250 people attended the breakfast with the theme "Setting Our Agenda for Justice" and included food as well as discussion surrounding such issues as reproductive rights, gender equality, HIV stigma and economic disparity.
Founded by Craig Washington and Darlene Hudson, the breakfast is a way for black LGBT people "to take the lead in bringing all groups to remember the contributions of lesbian poet activist Audre Lorde and civil rights activist and aide to Dr. King, Bayard Rustin," says Hudson. (Photos by Dyana Bagby)
Bernice King took the stage today at Atlanta’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. rally and included gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people among the various groups she said need to come together to fulfill her father's legacy.
In a passionate, sermon-like speech about building unity, King said she didn't care if people were Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, were from the North side or the South side, were black or white, were “heterosexual or homosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender” — that all people were needed to create unity.
LGBT people who attended the rally said they were shocked that King – who has a long anti-gay past — actually acknowledged the community in a public speech, but said they were also glad because it shows people can evolve.
Rev. Maressa Pendermon, a minister with LGBT-inclusive Unity Fellowship Church, said she at first intended to tune out King because of her anti-gay past, but decided to pay attention one more time.
Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend in gay Atlanta means parties, parties, parties. Gay promoters know thousands of people are visiting the birthplace of the civil rights icon not only to commemorate but to celebrate.
“People come to Atlanta because of the festivities we all have to offer. But by Atlanta being the home of the civil rights leader, it adds history to the weekend,” says Phillip Boone, owner of Traxx Atlanta, one of the largest black gay promoters in the country. Traxx celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
The tough economy impacts party promoters. Boone says Traxx Atlanta knows the pockets of partiers are not as deep as in the past and is striving to bring affordable entertainment in a city that’s famous for its black gay events.
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Rain could not diminish the words of gay leaders who took to the stage at the end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in Atlanta.
A variety of speakers addressed the crowd Jan. 17 at the conclusion of the city’s annual MLK March & Rally. The march, which took place on Auburn Avenue from Peachtree Street to Jackson Street, finished at the King national historic site.
Two openly gay leaders were invited to participate as speakers. Tracy Elliott, the executive director of AID Atlanta, and Anneliese Singh, co-founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, spoke of the need for gays to be included in the fight for civil rights and for gays to participate in the fight for others.
The 10th annual Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast brought more than 200 people to St. Mark United Methodist Church this morning, uniting a diverse group of young people and elders alike from Atlanta’s LGBT community to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Rustin, a gay mentor to MLK who organized the renowned 1963 March on Washington and brought Ghandi’s teachings of non-violence into the Civil Rights Movement, suffered greatly as an openly gay man in such homophobic times, including being fired from leadership positions. He died in 1987 at the age of 75.
Lorde, a lesbian author and poet, was also an activist who wrote “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name," which she described as not an autobiography, but a "biomythography." ZAMI, Atlanta’s own organization for black lesbians of African descent, takes its name from Lorde's book. Lorde battled cancer in her later years and died in 1992 at the age of 58.