Coretta Scott King was a wonderful soul of love and empathy who will be mourned by millions of people. She was the King who was a queen, because she understood her husband's "dream" was much greater than achieving liberty for one narrow slice of the population.
"For many years now, I have been an outspoken supporter of civil and human rights for gay and lesbian people," Coretta Scott King said at the 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."
King has left a legacy that lives on today through a nascent movement of prominent African Americans who are coming together to support the gay community. Earlier this month, black civil rights leaders held a national summit in an Atlanta Baptist church to discuss how to overcome anti-gay prejudice often fomented by homophobic pastors.
At the conference, Rev. Al Sharpton wisely pointed out that the overwhelmingly white and historically anti-black religious right was using anti-gay prejudice to divide the African American vote.
"In 2004, the religious right was concerned about re-electing George W. Bush," said Sharpton at First Iconium Baptist Church. "They couldn't come to black churches to talk about the war, about health care, about poverty. So they did what they always do and reached for the bigotry against gay and lesbian people."
Indeed, immediately following the 2004 presidential election, social conservatives made a strong push to lure African-Americans by exploiting the same-sex marriage issue. According to the Los Angles Times, Rev. Lou Sheldon hosted a right wing meeting of 70 black religious leaders in Los Angeles.
Unbelievably, Sheldon played an anti-gay video featuring disgraced Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. Remember, Lott had to step down as Senate Majority Leader after he publicly pined over Strom Thurmond not winning the presidency as a Dixiecrat. Fortunately, African-American columnist Leonard Pitts put Sheldon's power grab in perspective.
"Whether the issue was slavery, segregation, lynching, voting rights or housing discrimination, social conservatives have always taken a position that history later judged to be ignorant and flat-out wrong...which leaves me at a loss to understand why any African American possessed of a functioning brain would give this atavistic bunch the time of day," wrote Pitts.
The disastrous response from President Bush following Hurricane Katrina put a temporary end to this unholy alliance. Rapper Kanye West summed up the sentiment felt by many people when he said on live television, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
Still, many African American church leaders are outspoken against gay and lesbian rights.
** Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, made news by urging conservatives to buy Microsoft stock, and then dump it to punish the company for supporting a successful measure in Washington State that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
** African American preacher Talbert W. Swann II published an intolerant book "Closing the Closet: Testimonies from Deliverance from Homosexuality," that features stories from 23 "ex-gays."
** Washington, DC minister Rev. Willie F. Wilson, immorally double-crossed black gay activist Keith Boykin, by banning him from the Millions More Movement rally, right as he was about to take the stage and deliver an inclusive address. Wilson is a creepy minister who has written about an "epidemic" of lesbianism among young black girls.
The good news is that this opposition has led to heterosexual African Americans, such as Sharpton and West, openly speaking out against homophobia. It has helped motivate people, such as basketball star Cheryl Swoops, to come out of the closet.
"I mean, you have Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell, but you don't have your well-known gay African-American who's come out, not to my knowledge," Swoopes said, citing this as a major reason for revealing her sexual orientation.
Outspoken hatemongering has also led to the emergence of the National Black Justice Coalition, a group created to fend off attacks and introduce black gay people to the African American community. The group features powerful and persuasive leaders, such as Donna Payne and Keith Boykin, who are educating people and standing up to the extreme right.
No one group owns the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently articulated. Coretta Scott King was a kindred spirit of her late-husband who left a legacy of unity that will help stop those of all races who thrive on sowing the seeds of division and disunity.
"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people," King said in 1998. "But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."
Too bad Mrs. King's gay tolerant views aren't widely known. There is a very outspoken & homophobic daughter or granddaughter who makes the antigay religious rallies. Too bad she didn't get the message.
posted by Anonymous, at
2/01/2006 9:55 AM
Coretta is one of my heroines. What she did for civil rights advancement is immeasurable. We need more like her in the African-American community. She was a shining example of common decency and principles, just like her late husband. We will all miss her terribly.
She was great. She is at rest now and is free from having to have her sacred sensibilities insulted on a daily basis by this ignorant world. George W. Bush isn't fit to utter this hero's name. But republicans always do the same thing. They pay lip-service to such saints while working against everything that they stand for. Only two and one-half more years to go!
posted by Chris L., at
2/01/2006 11:25 AM
I remember when I was very young, and struggling to understand where my place would be as a black woman in a rapidly shifting society. I was a teenager in the 70's and I knew that my mind would require sharpness and I was instilled with educational disciplines that has gifted many blacks today. Part of that education was to listen to gay folks, be open and socialize and not pass judgment.
Gay folks knew their OWN story and I was not and never would be one in a position to deny what gay folks know for themselves, anymore than I would want a segregationist to tell the story of blacks and pass it off as truth.
I listended to our godmother of the movement, Mrs. King-I wanted to belong to something important and to seek justice for those who did not have it as well. My family and the generation that Ms. King exemplified taught me to look after each other, that there was still much work to be done.
The brutal lynchings of so many gay and lesbian people on the altar of bigotry parallels with the history of that of blacks enough that it is my duty to this minority as well.
I know it's not enough to just care, and not raise a hand against gay men and women, but to work actively alongside to educate on the brutality of breaking the identity of gays and lesbians. There is no kind way to demand that such a thing occur. The ex gay movement in particular merely makes this demand with a kind face, while at the same time benefitting from the same fear and intimidation that enforced segregation. I can only hope that I do my own duty with the same tenacity and accuracy that Mother King continued hers.
I pray for, in her name, courage...but most of all enduring love for justice and for my fellow gay and lesbian citizens.
posted by Regan, at
2/01/2006 12:05 PM
Correta Scott King was a courageous and wonderful woman. Unfortunately, she was wrong about her views concering lesbian and gay men and women. Sexual preference has nothing to do with being black or white.
posted by Anonymous, at
2/01/2006 7:31 PM
Coretta will be sorely missed. She continued to speak out against injustice and bigotry in all of its forms and was lambasted by her own when she dared to champion the cause of GLBT people by insisting that they be included "in the dream". I firmly believe that if MLK were still with us today he would champion our cause and Coretta confirmed this time and time again. MLK's close advisor and personal friend - Baynard Rustin, the acknowledged behind the scenes architect of the 1963 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom', which included the now infamous - "I have a Dream Speech", was an avowed homosexual and is credited with advising King on how-to apply Gandhian priniciples to the fledgling Civil Rights movement. For those that propose there is no evidence that MLK would support Gay Rights or Gay Marriage ... we will always have Coretta's word on the subject and King's support for his friend Baynard Rustin.
In honour of Coretta and their father - I hope the King siblings will finally put an end to the dispicable feud that threatens to divide and take away from the work that consumed their parents' lives. I have often been at odds with Dexter's attempts to turn the King legacy into a money generating corporation and others in the family that seek to use the Legacy to further their own agenda's. MLK gave away every dime he ever earned and ultimately gave his own life to the cause of Equality and Freedom and his widow will be forever revered and remembered for carrying on that dream until the day she died. She will always hold a special place in my heart for her support of the GLBT community.
She wasn't wrong, Anonymous. Jim Crow was enforced by brutality, but the means through which it was legislated was the perceived sexual immorality of blacks. Particularly in Mississippi and Louisiana and Georgia. The low marriage rates, and high out of wedlock births (the only thing that could be tabulated) was used to not only justify segregation, but discriminate against marriage and voting rights.
And with that, sexual aggression, irresponsibility and pathology was larded on as part of the other statistical date to give just enough credibility to segregationists to make that legislation persist.
This same stereotyping is applied to gay people. Sexuality that is unique to gay people is used to deny integration in much of merit that gay people can and do offer society.
This absolutely dovetails with the actions taken against a perpetual minority and the use of that status to tyrannize and deny basic integration and equal access and protection. I don't care what you think homosexuality is, Anonymous. The fact remains that the most morally corrupt heterosexual can marry and raise kids-while the most morally upstanding and socially responsible gay person cannot.
A gay person, skilled and dutiful in military service should not be dismissed based on their orientation. It's their skill as a soldier that matters and this too should only matter to the military. That a gay person would want to serve a country that vilifies and denies them equal protection and access at home, speaks to the same moral courage exhibited by black soldiers who served America while Jim Crow was enforced.
Being equal in the eyes of our Creator and our country's laws, means just that. And it's not written anywhere that gay people must be an exception to that and shouldn't be by ad hoc segregationists like yourself.
This is the standard on which equal justice and protection must be decided. Not demagogic and irrational personal beliefs.
posted by Regan, at
2/02/2006 12:03 PM
What a wonderful woman!!!!!We need more heros like her!!!!!
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