“As the nation celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., it is an opportunity to also reflect on the broader impact of his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963, which remains one of our nation’s most influential rallying cries for society to embrace diversity and seek equality.
Bayard Rustin, one of Dr. King’s most trusted advisors, was born in 1912 and became an early Freedom Rider in the 1940s; he later organized the 1953 Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered the speech. He was also an openly gay African-American man.
Dr. King understood that a coalition of allies was necessary to advance the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King’s widow Coretta Scott King, said in 1998, ‘I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King’s dream, to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.’ Today, I want to echo her call, and note that Rustin’s legacy is particularly resonant for those of us who seek justice and equality in the United States for LGBT people on everything from employment law to housing policies.”