‘One Nation’ March Brings Together LGBTQ Groups, NAACP
This Saturday, Oct. 2, over 500 progressive groups will come together on DC’s Washington Mall as part of the “One Nation Working Together” march. Under the banner of “Jobs, Justice and Education for All,” organizers are looking to restore the general feelings of excitement for “hope” and “change” surrounding Barack Obama’s election in time for the upcoming mid-term elections in November.
In response to the right-wing resurgence manifested through things like the revival of the Tea Party movement and Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally held last month, “One Nation,” comprised of human and civil rights leaders, faith and labor leaders, peace activists as well as celebrities, will all take part in the four-hour program.
“We are trying to get America back to work to show that the divisiveness going around in the political atmosphere is not what the true majority represents,” said Andrea Alford, senior communications associate for One Nation Working Together. “Americans want great jobs, great education and justice for all.”
The progressive movement, often billed as one big fight for social justice and human rights, is a composite of many separate organizational causes; some of which have a history of strained relations. On Saturday, longstanding tension between certain groups may be tested as many LGBT rights groups will stand alongside religious groups (which traditionally align with socially conservative values) in a unified struggle for all to achieve the American Dream.
One hopeful alliance stands out in particular between the NAACP and LGBT rights organizations.
Coming off the heels of the NAACP’s newly launched LGBT Equality Task Force, the newly released “Better Together” study that examines the importance in bringing together racial justice organizations and LGBT communities as well as the upcoming rally, NAACP President, Benjamin Jealous is making a strong push for that alliance.
Carmine Berkley, NAACP field director and ONWT deputy field director, said that alliance is “well overdue.”
“We try not to make parallels between the two movements, but they are similar in that people are being oppressed,” Berkley said. “We have to help make sure that all communities facing oppression are being advocated for as a civil rights issue and that we are continuing to fight for each other.”
Last week Jealous visited Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center—the first time that a current NAACP President has done so in an effort to promote the rally as well the acceptance of gay rights as a civil rights issue.
LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign see the critical need for an alliance such as this one.
“This is very important because HRC has worked with the NAACP over the years and we’re excited about working more closely together,” said Paul Guequierre, deputy press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. “It’s a great sign of progress and we’re excited to stand next to the NAACP because we believe in their mission and we’re proud to stand with them on these issues.”
Jealous, 35, who has a gay brother, is well aware of the compounded struggle in being both a member of a racial minority and the LGBT community. He recently told The Root: “When [my brother] has been beaten up by the cops, it's been very clear that it's both because he's black and gay."
Berkley said she gives credit to both Jealous and former NAACP chairman Julian Bond for being at the forefront in making sure the “gap is closed between LGBT and civil rights communities.”
“Within the civil rights community, there are [people who identify as LGBT] in our families,” Berkley said. “That shouldn’t be separate from how we organize in the sense that we have to advocate for their rights as well.”
According to The Root’s reporting by former Campus Progresseditor Cord Jefferson, “an NAACP insider speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the topic says that, as of now, the organization has no plans to come out in full support of gay marriage.” Hopefully the “One Nation” rally will serve as a launching platform to the beginning of a strong and lasting union between civil rights and LGBT rights while promoting honest and open dialogue between communities of color and LGBT organizations.
“This rally is about showing that no matter where people come from or no matter what their sexual preference is, as long as we build on the message of togetherness, and put that out in the communities, nothing but positive things can come from that,” Alford said.
Jessica Strong is a staff writer for Campus Progress.
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