Press

13th Annual Creating Change Conference Wraps Up with March to King Center

Date: 
November 14, 2000

The 13th annual Creating ChangeTM conference, sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation, wrapped up this past weekend with more than 500 participants engaging in a procession of respect to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

"In Atlanta we have witnessed the convergence between the civil rights movement and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement for justice," said NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo. "Never again will we work in isolation. Never again will we act as though the GLBT struggle exists in a vacuum, cut off from and unconnected to the larger work against oppression. As we look ahead to an uncertain political climate, we know that the only way to achieve success is by building strong coalitions with partners who are also working to build a lasting social justice movement."

This year's conference ran Nov. 9-12 and included more than 200 workshops, plenary sessions, special caucuses and other events. Two of the themes emphasized this year were organizing in the South and examining the intersection of different oppressions, including racism, sexism, ageism and bigotry against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

On Sunday, Dr. Manning Marable, one of the founders of the Black Radical Congress, professor of history and political science and the founding director of the Institute for Research in African-American studies at Columbia University, delivered the keynote address at the closing plenary. Marable predicted that the ability of progressives to strengthen democracy in the United States will depend largely on whether progressives are successful in forging bonds between diverse coalitions. He also warned against pitting minority people against each other. "Our goal in the 21st Century must be the construction of a human rights culture - a civil society that affirms the dignity, the creativity and the productivity of every single person in the United States," Dr. Marable said.

The Creating ChangeTM conference began two days after the Nov. 7 election, with vote totals in the presidential race changing almost hourly. The election - and the unknown outcome - was a point of discussion throughout the conference.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, more than 300 activists marched to Centennial Park to demand a fair outcome in Florida. The demonstration was captured on CNN as as well as a number of local TV stations. Protesters carried signs reading, "Fair is Fair: Florida Run-Off;" "Don't Trash 19,000 Votes;" and "Every Vote Counts."

Other highlights of this year's Creating ChangeTM conference included:

  • An opening welcome from Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King discussed the Nov. 7 elections and the importance of coalition work. "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 vote victory 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."

  • An address from State Rep.-elect Karla Drenner, who will soon be sworn in as Georgia's first openly lesbian state representative. In her speech, Drenner discussed why Atlanta was a perfect venue for Creating ChangeTM. "I am sure that many of you were surprised that the NGLTF chose to have its annual conference in Atlanta," Drenner said. "Because when you think of Georgia, you really don't think of a lot of change, do you? Yes, it's true that Georgia has given us Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr, not to mention Bowers v. Hardwick. However, change is happening in the South. Over the past several years, Georgians have elected seven openly gay public officials, and in July, elected their first openly gay state representative."

  • A march demanding that Georgia remove the Confederate battle flag emblem from its state flag. Demonstrators led by Atlanta activists marched from the Creating ChangeTM host hotel to Woodruff Park for a brief demonstration that was covered by the local ABC and NBC TV affiliates.

Creating ChangeTM is sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation. It is the largest annual conference of the GLBT movement and this year drew more than 2,000 activists from throughout the United States and six foreign countries. Next year's conference will be held in Milwaukee,Wisconsin with exact dates to be announced later.

–30–

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.