Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Coretta Scott King - 1927-2006

The gay civil rights movement has lost a respected voice. The black civil rights movement has lost a respected voice. Equality and Freedom have lost a respected voice. Rest in Peace Mrs. King, thank you for your tireless contributions and service. Rest assured you will not be forgotten by me or by millions of others.

Mrs. King spoke often to gay rights groups and always spoke out strongly for gay rights. In 1998, just a few days before the 30th anniversary of her husband's assassination, she noted the obvious similarities:

"Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."

She also noted that her husband believed that all struggles for equal rights were bound together and that it was necessary to fight against bigotry in all forms, not merely the form that affected you personally:

"We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny...I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be," she said, quoting her husband. "I've always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy."
And she pointed out that many gays and lesbians had fought for black civil rights, demanding that blacks return the favor:

"Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Ga. and St. Augustine, Fla., and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement," she said. "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."
But perhaps her most eloquent statement on the subject came in 1994, again invoking the words of her late husband in support of equal rights for all:

For too long, our nation has tolerated the insidious form of discrimination against this group of Americans, who have worked as hard as any other group, paid their taxes like everyone else, and yet have been denied equal protection under the law...I believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. My husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." On another occasion he said, "I have worked too long and hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible." Like Martin, I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.

Coretta Scott King's strong and clear voice for freedom and equality will be sorely missed.


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