Coretta Scott King speaks at NGLTF’s Creating Change
Coretta Scott King late Thursday called this week's election "an object lesson in the power of coalition unity" and called for renewed efforts to unite social justice organizations in the fight for human rights. Mrs. King made her comments at the opening plenary session of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation Creating Change TM conference. Creating Change is the largest annual national conference of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement.
"In a way, we have just had an object lesson in the power of coalition unity," Mrs. King said. "I think we have just seen the future of American democracy flash before our eyes last Tuesday. The coalition that gave Al Gore a popular majority can surely be as powerful as the New Deal coalition that transformed America in an earlier era."
Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mrs. King said, "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny...An inescapable network of mutuality...I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be."
"Therefore," Mrs. King said, "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."
In recent years, GLBT people have achieved increased visibility, and the number of lesbian and gay officeholders is on the rise. "I think this will help educate the American people that lesbian and gay people seek the same goals of quality education for young people, cleaner air and water, safer streets and better health care that straight people want. We have to work harder for the broader vision of the compassionate and caring society that demands decent living standards for all citizens."
Mrs. King spoke at a plenary entitled, "What Comes Next?" that examined the state of the GLBT movement in the wake of this week's elections as well as new socioeconomic trends and technological advances. Both Mrs. King and Atlanta City Councilmember Cathy Woolard, Georgia's first openly lesbian elected official, welcomed Creating Change participants to Atlanta.
Other speakers at Thursday night's plenary were David Bohnett, founder of GeoCities, the world's largest Internet community; Joo-Hyun Kang, executive director of The Audre Lorde Project; Margarita Lopez, New York City council member and the first openly lesbian Puerto Rican elected to public office; and Phill Wilson, founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and founder of the African-American AIDS Policy and Training Institute at the University of Southern California. The speakers were introduced by NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo and the forum was moderated by Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
In her remarks, Lopez criticized conservatives' attacks on federalism, which she called an attempt to reduce funding for critical infrastructure needs such as education and health care. Bohnett agreed, adding that the use of the phrase "competition in the schools" is code for vouchers. "School vouchers are wrong and they will always be wrong in this country," he said.
Kang laid out a vision of the GLBT movement in which she predicted that decisions increasingly will be made not by national organizations, "not in boardrooms but in living rooms, church basements, grassroots organizing and in the streets."
Wilson concluded the opening plenary at Creating Change by urging Vice President Gore not to prematurely concede this week's presidential election. "Call Vice President Gore and Mr. Daley and Donna Brazile and tell them to fight," Wilson said. "Tell them to fight and fight and fight for this election."
He warned that pollsters might try to convince Gore to "bow out graciously. But I believe this election is worth fighting for."
Creating Change, the largest annual conference of the GLBT movement, continues through Sunday at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta. For more information about Creating Change or to arrange interviews, please call NGLTF Communications Director David Elliot at 404-589-7663 or page him at 1-800-757-6476. Creating Change features more than 200 workshops, special plenaries and other events dealing with a wide variety of topics of interest to the GLBT and social justice community.
Note to editors, reporters and producers: At 12:45 p.m. Friday, participants in Creating Change will march from the Westin Peachtree Plaza to Woodruff Park on Auburn Avenue to demand a change in the Georgia state flag. At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Creating Change will host a press conference to release "Outing Age: Public Policy Issues Facing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders," the first comprehensive report to address public policy issues facing millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) seniors in the United States.
______________________________________________________________________ Creating Change is a registered trademark of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation.
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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