HRC joins civil rights march calling on Department of Justice to investigate recent hate crimes
Posted on March 31, 2008
Filed Under Gay News Blog
Donna Payne, HRC Associate Director of Diversity, will join Reverend Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and other civil rights and religious leaders at a march on the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, DC on November 16 at 12 noon. The march is being called by Rev. Sharpton’s National Action Network and other black political, religious and media leaders to protest the lethargic response of the Department of Justice in investigating hate crimes.
Friday’s march seeks to bring additional attention to and urge an immediate judicial response to the recent national surge in racial and ethnically motivated bias crimes, including the rise of nooses, swastikas and other symbols of hate being displayed across the country in the wake of the Jena Six case. In that case, the Human Rights Campaign joined with a broad coalition of national civil rights organizations in calling for fair treatment in the case of six black teenagers who had fallen victim to severe racial bias at the hands of judicial authorities in Jena, Louisiana.
Donna Payne is scheduled to give remarks at the march on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign between 9 a.m. and 12 noon (EST) at Freedom Plaza, at the corner of 14th Street, NW and Pennsylvania Ave., NW in Washington.
But wait a minute.
Let’s take a second and give proper notice to the fact that the GLBT community being asked to take such a prominent role in this march constitutes a remarkable sign of progress. In 2005, the black GLBT community was outraged when HRC’s Donna Payne, leaders of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), and other black GLBT activists were blocked from addressing the thousands of citizens who had assembled on the National Mall to take part of the Millions More Movement (MMM) demonstration.
Prior to the march, these leaders were assured during discussions with MMM march organizer Minister Louis Farrakhan and Washington minister Rev. Willie F. Wilson, the march’s executive director, that GLBT activist/blogger Keith Boykin would be able to address the crowd from the main stage. However, their agreement was inexplicably annulled by march organizers at the last minute and Keith was prevented from addressing the crowd. Black GLBT leaders and Keith, who was president of NBJC’s Board at the time, spoke out forcefully on the snub, which was largely attributed to the influence of Rev. Wilson, an outspoken critic of gays and lesbians. Donna Payne was told onsite by Rev. Wilson that Keith would not speak. Members of the local black GLBT community, who had held a rally earlier in Freedom Plaza, vowed to use the hurtful occassion as a call for intensifying their efforts to increase the visibility and solidarity of the black GLBT community.
Now, just two years later, Rev. Wilson has ostensibly extended an olive branch to HRC, NBJC, and the GLBT community by calling Donna Payne and inviting her to take part in Friday’s rally for justice. And Donna will be in Freedom Plaza tomorrow – just like she was two years ago – to stand with our brothers and sisters in the civil rights movement in calling for our government to do its job and treat all of its citizens fairly and equally.
It’s moments like this when the fight for equality seems to pay the sweetest returns.
Photo: HRC Associate Director of Diversity Donna Payne in Jena, Louisiana following the march in support of the Jena Six. MORE
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