The National Press Club was the site for the American Constitution Society’s Voting Rights Symposium on Tuesday, September 28. John Lewis, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 5th district and a longtime social advocate and leader of the civil rights movement, joined Pulitzer Prize Winner Taylor Branch, author of the 2,912-page trilogy collectively called America in the King Year, for a conversation about the past and the future.
The two gentlemen first began by discussing history and their role in what turned out to be some of the largest civil rights victories in American history. Lewis specifically recalled a conversation former President Lyndon B. Johnson had with Martin Luther King, Jr., where Johnson expressed his thanks to King for mobilizing voters and gaining national recognition of their cause, which allowed the Voting Rights Act of 1964 to pass. The discussion seemed especially poignant in terms of thinking about civil rights today. Branch and Lewis were quick to remind their audience that civil rights is a much more inclusive term than how it is often applied; civil rights are rights for all.
Forty six years after such legislation has passed, society is able to look back and see how trivial such opposition to these particular rights was, which are so clearly deserved by all. Though there is always progress to be made, the amount of road covered has been tremendous thanks in full to those who marched and rallied for their rights and recapitulated the emotional history behind the movement time and again in the way that John Lewis and Taylor Branch have. The question remains, will our generation be afforded such a luxury with the issues that we fight for?
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” While the progressive movement looks bruised, part of the blame belongs to those who continue to stand by and allow the sore to grow worse. Whether the struggle is fighting for marriage equality, non-discrimination in the military, workplace, or schools, adoption rights, or any of the other forms of discrimination that affect the LGBT community or the progressive movement as a whole, we need to make our presence known and inspire the change we wish to see in this country. On October 2, join PFLAG National along with 150 other organizations for the One Nation Working Together March to make clear our commitment to progression forward.
RSVP now to let us know you will join us at the march on 10.2.10.
Location: Meet-up at Freedom Plaza @ 10 am – look for the rainbow flags at the southwest corner of 13th Street and Pennsylvania.
Dress: Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and breakout your PFLAG T-shirts, buttons, rainbow flags and banners.
Date: 10/02/2010 from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm (Eastern Time)
Hosted By: One Nation Working Together
RSVP by: October 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Endorsed by: In addition to PFLAG National, over 150 allied organizations support this march
How to get involved:
• E-mail the Task Force to let us know you’re coming!
• Ride share or get on a bus to come to the rally in Washington, D.C.!
• Find a local event for Oct. 2!
• RSVP for the rally!
If we allow our opportunities for change to pass us by, we won’t be afforded the chance to look back at the great strides we made at this point in history while being given such ripe opportunity, and we will not be allowed to enjoy the freedoms and justice we dream of on the way there.
This post was written by Eric VanDreason, the newest edition to PFLAG National’s Policy Team. To learn more about Eric and his role at the National Office, please visit our staff page here.