I find myself thinking about the myriad of injustice issues that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. championed. One glaring injustice is the treatment of Bayard Rustin by leaders in the civil rights movement. Bayard Rustin was the Black gay organizer for the historic March On Washington. He organized the historic march with 200,000 in attendance to hear Dr. King deliver the famous “I have a dream” speech. I wonder what the dream was for Bayard. Did he have a dream for himself? A dream for LGBTQ people? I am sure that in 2020, Dr. King would have evolved, as his family did, to defend queer folks.
As with most righteous social justice organizers, Rustin left the civil rights movement before his being gay could be used against the movement he worked so hard for. He did his work in a time before email, cell phones and fax machines. Civil rights and homophobia were never good bedfellows during that period. It seems someone was not gratified.
I wonder what Dr. King would have made of this president and Republican Senate that seem bent on keeping poor people poor, eliminating health care and cutting funds for housing and education. A president that uses religion to make LGBTQ discrimination legal. Taking food out of the mouths of poor people by taking their stamps and cards.
Dr. King’s dream is not forgotten. It lives in groups like ACT UP, which borrowed the nonviolent tactics from the fight for civil rights. The Poor Peoples Campaign has reawakened and is leading the charge for social justice for poor people nationally. In fact, Dr. King was the Poor Peoples Campaign at the time he was murdered. Groups such as PHAN and Put People First are local groups here in Philadelphia that fight to keep Dr. King’s dream alive. We are living in dangerous times under a president that is dumb and evil, but you can help the many local groups that are fighting social and economic injustice. Find a group. Join a group. Attend one of their meetings. And if you cannot join, give them donations so that they can continue the work that is necessary for Philadelphia and the entire country.
More then ever, now is the time to remember Dr. King’s dream and live it. It’s a simple dream with the hope of love and justice — for all people to live in harmony.