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Stonewall: Gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin remembered in ‘Lessons Learned’ readings

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.”

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[Photos] Atlanta commemorates MLK Day

11th annual Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast

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)

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Bernice King’s gay-inclusive speech at MLK rally surprises LGBT participants

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.