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MCC Celebrating Women’s History Month

Women's-History-20152015 Theme: Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives

March 2015

Take the 2015 Black Women History Quiz

Women of the 1965 Civil Rights Movement

Women were central to the US Civil Rights Movement, but they were sometimes pushed to the side and today their contributions are often overlooked. This month we will pay them homage. These are just a few of the many women who were critical to the movement’s success in Selma and across the country.

EllaBakerElla Baker (1903 – 1986)

In a largely behind-the-scenes career that spanned more than five decades, Baker worked with many famous civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and A. Philip Randolph. In 1957, at King’s request, she became executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

To learn more click  here:

Daisy BatesDaisy Bates (1914 – 1999)      

Bates and her husband founded the Arkansas State Press, a weekly paper modeled after the leading black publications of the era. In 1957 she guided the 9 black students who triggered a civil rights showdown when they attempted to enter the all-white Central High School in Little Rock.

To learn more click here: ,

Amelia Boyton

Amelia Boyton ( 1911 – )

In Selma, Mrs. Amelia Boynton was a stalwart with the DCVL and played a critical role for decades in nurturing African American efforts to register to vote. She welcomed SNCC to town and helped support the younger activists and their work. When Judge Hare’s injunction slowed the grassroots organizing, she initiated the invitation to King and SCLC.

To learn more click here: , ,

Marie FosterMarie Foster (1917 – 2003)

Another local activist, Foster taught citizenship classes even before SNCC arrived. In early 1965 when SCLC began escalating the confrontation in Selma, Boynton and Foster were both in the thick of things, inspiring others and putting their own bodies on the line. They were leaders on Bloody Sunday and the subsequent march to Montgomery.

To learn more click here:

Prathia Hall

Prathia Hall (1940 – 2002)

In 1978, Hall followed after her father to become a Baptist preacher in Philadelphia. Before that, as a civil rights activist in Georgia, she was shot by a white gunman, shot at by police and jailed many times. A powerful orator, her signature phrase, “I have a dream,” may have inspired MLK’s most famous speech.

To learn more click here: , ,

Fannie Lou HamerFannie Lou Hamer (1917 – 1977)

In 1963, after she and two other voting rights activists were viciously beaten while in police custody in Winona, Miss., Hamer decided to devote her life to the fight for civil rights. A year later she helped draw national attention to the cause as a leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged Mississippi’s all-white delegation to the Democratic National Convention.

To learn more click here: ,

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height (1912 – 2010)

Height was “both the grande dame of the civil rights era and its unsung heroine,” as the New York Times once put it. The longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women and a prize-winning orator, she was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. (Her male counterparts, however, allowed no women to speak that day.)

To learn more click here: ,

Coretta Scott KingCoretta Scott King (1927 – 2006) 

Though she held a degree in voice and violin from the New England Conservatory of Music, King, alongside her famous husband, became a civil rights leader in her own right. After his assassination in 1968, she championed the building of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a living memorial to her husband’s work.

To learn more click here:

Colia Liddll Lafayette

Colia Liddll Lafayette  (1940 – )

Though Colia Lafayette worked side by side with husband Bernard, recruiting student workers and doing the painstaking work of building a grassroots movement in Selma, she has become almost invisible and typically mentioned only in passing, as his wife.

To learn more click here:

Mildred LovingMildred Loving (1939 – 2008) 

Loving was thrust into the civil rights movement when she and her husband, who was white, were arrested by the sheriff of Central Point, Va., for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision in their case struck down anti-miscegenation laws still on the books in 16 states.

To learn more click here:

Clara Luper

Clara Luper (1923 – 2011)

In 1958, Luper, then a high school history teacher, helped ignite a national movement by leading a sit-in protest at the lunch counter of the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City. (The Katz chain began integrating its stores several weeks later.) Luper went on to become a prominent figure in the national civil rights movement.

To learn more click here:

Diane NashDiane Nash (1938 – ) 

Nash was the key strategist behind the first successful campaign to desegregate lunch counters in Nashville, leader of the Nashville Student Freedom Ride campaign to desegregate interstate travel, and a founder of both the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Selma Voting Rights Campaign.

To learn more click here:

Watch this interview of Ms. Nash:

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005)

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks was arrested after she refused to obey a bus driver and give her seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala. Her act of defiance, and the 381-day bus boycott that followed, soon became keystones of the modern civil rights movement. In 1999 Congress honored her as “the first lady of civil rights.” ,

Women of Today’s Civil Rights Movement


Rahiel_TesfamariamRahiel Tesfamariam: Urban Cusp (1981 – )

A public theologian, social activist, writer and speaker. She is Founder / Publisher of, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness. The youngest of eight children, Tesfamariam was born in Eritrea during the Eritrean-Ethiopian War. When she was 5, she moved to the U.S., and was raised by her brother and sister in the Bronx and Washington, D.C. Rahiel is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University where she was the inaugural William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Scholar for Peace and Justice. Tesfamariam traveled to war-torn Darfur in 2005. The experience led Tesfamariam, to found, a site that publishes lifestyle, faith and entertainment articles designed to combat negative images of African-Americans in media. “What young people internalize daily shapes who they are,” she says. “The music they’re listening to shapes their understanding of Black masculinity, or sexuality, and part of launching Urban Cusp was to provide an alternate reality that depicts African-Americans in an intellectual, spiritual way.”

To learn more click here: , ,

Ciara Taylor

Ciara Taylor: Dream Defenders

Taylor is the political director of Dream Defenders, a Florida-based organization that fights Stand Your Ground laws and focuses on a number of other issues affecting young people of color, including the school-to-prison pipeline, police brutality, voting rights and access to education. The group was founded in April 2012 by Taylor and 39 other students after the killing of Sanford, Florida, teen Trayvon Martin. Local officials and law enforcement met with them and listened to their list of demands: one, for Zimmerman to be arrested; two, for the chief of police to be fired; and three, for there to be an investigation of the Stand Your Ground law. Three days after Zimmerman’s acquittal, the Dream Defenders held a 31-day sit-in inside Florida’s state capitol, and were eventually invited to the governor’s office to discuss issues affecting young people of color. “In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, I could just go to law school, have a simple life,” says Taylor. “But I think about my younger siblings and the family I want to have in the future. I want to create a world in which they can live without fear. I want my generation to be free, to live and to really flourish.”

To learn more click here: ,

Monica SimpsonMonica Simpson: SisterSong  (1980 – )

Simpson, 35, is the executive director of SisterSong, a nonprofit composed of 80 grassroots organizations dedicated to the preservation of reproductive rights for women of color.

Simpson grew up in Wingate, North Carolina, and says that there were very clear lines that separated Black and White people. “I was put in situations where I was ‘the only,’ like being the only Black child in honors classes,” says Simpson. “Those instances really started me on the path to activism, fighting for the rights of Black people, fighting for women’s rights.” Simpson began working at SisterSong in 2010, around the same time that the antiabortion group Georgia Right to Life erected billboards in Atlanta that read, “Black children are an endangered species.” In response to the inflammatory ad, SisterSong established a group, Trust Black Women,  that created media campaigns and worked with the NAACP, churches and other organizations to counter the billboards’ message.

To learn more click here:,

Nicole Porter

Nicole Porter: The Sentencing Project (1979 – )

Porter is the Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that works toward criminal justice reforms. “My twin brother’s incarceration underpins a lot of work that I do, to emphasize that though someone might have committed a serious crime, they are much more than what that crime was,” she says. Before joining The Sentencing Project, Porter was the director of the ACLU’s Prison & Jail Accountability Project, where she monitored the conditions at Texas prisons. Today, Porter and her colleagues at The Sentencing Project work to change laws that determine the rate of incarceration and the length of confinement. They fight for the rights of the formerly incarcerated, some of whom are denied voting rights, and others who face lifetime bans from receiving food stamps and public housing.

Porter believes that the focus should be on intervention rather than imprisonment. “Public safety isn’t just about locking people up,” she says. “It’s about providing targeted services for at-risk children—access to early childhood education and models for how to resolve conflict.”

To learn more click here: ,

Opal TometiOpal Tometi: The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (1985 – )

Tometi’s interest in immigration reform was born out of personal experience. Tometi grew up in Phoenix—”ground zero for the anti-immigration movement,” she says—and is the child of immigrants. Her parents moved to the U.S. from Nigeria in 1983, and Tometi was raised in a close-knit community of Nigerian immigrants. Learning about anti-immigrant initiatives and their parallels to Jim Crow laws, Tometi was moved to fight against what she saw as a grave injustice. “It was very personal,” says Tometi. “Because people I loved were at risk; I was at risk.” Tometi volunteered with the ACLU to monitor and report the activities of vigilantes who were stopping immigrants as they tried to cross the border during college Today, Tometi is executive director of The Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Tometi has helped develop a network of Black immigrant organizations around the country. Her hope is that more African-Americans will join in the struggle for immigrant rights.

To learn more click here:,

Je-Shawna Wholley

Je-Shawna Wholley: National Black Justice Coalition (1990 – )

Though Je-Shawna Wholley had come out as a lesbian to high school friends when she was 16, she hid her sexual identity from her mother and the Army, which had recruited her with the suggestion that she apply for an ROTC scholarship to Texas A&M University. Wholley eventually transferred to Spelman where she joined and helped reinvigorate the college’s LGBT association, Afrekete. The group sponsored AIDS walks, had a drag fashion show, and, when Wholley became president, hosted a pride week. As programs manager at the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black LGBT people, Wholley travels to universities to help them become safer and more inclusive for LGBT students. She believes that mainstream LGBT groups have made strides in the fight for marriage equality, but they do not address the issues that most directly affect young people of color, such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS, violence, an open dialogue and an acceptance of LGBT people of color within their families, and within the Black community as a whole.

To learn more click here: ,

Photo Credits

Ella Baker, Jack Harris, AP

Daisy Bates, Time & Life Pictures Getty Images

Amelia Boyton, Green  County Democrat

Marie Foster, Jack Harris, AP

Prathia Hall,  Bettmann CORBIS

Fannie Hamer, Huffingtonpost

Dorothy Height, Eurweb

Coretta King, Michael Evans New York Times

Colia Liddll Lafayette,   Jack Harris AP

Mildred Loving, Bettmann CORBIS

Clara Luper, Doug Dawg

Diane Nash, Jack Harris AP

Rosa Parks, Alamy AP

Tesfamarian, Taylor, Simpson, Porter, Tometi and Wholley, Essence


35th Anniversary of the National Women’s History Project Celebrating Women’s History Month

National Women’s History Project

Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.  ~ Myra Pollack Sadker


History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished.


Multicultural American women are overlooked in most mainstream approaches to U.S. history, so the National Women’s History Project champions their accomplishments and leads the drive to write women back into history.


Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women.


With an emphasis on positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds, the NWHP has developed a nationwide constituency of teachers, students, parents, public employees, businesses, organizations, and individuals who understand the critical link between knowing about historical women and making a positive difference in today’s world.


2015 Honorees from NWHP

Seven Strategies for Successful Stewardship

SevenStrategiesA New MCC Webinar for Local Church Leaders

With Rev. Elder Don Eastman


Find new vitality for giving in your congregation through a holistic approach to excellence in stewardship!


During this 90 minute webinar you will:

  • Gain insights on how you can help to create a culture of generosity in your congregation.
  • Learn how to develop a highly effective annual stewardship program for your church.
  • Discover a wealth of resources to support your stewardship efforts throughout the year.
  • Connect with other church leaders with perspectives on the ministry of stewardship.


This webinar will be presented three times during 2015. Select the webinar that targets your congregational size.





This webinar is designed for Pastors, Board members and Stewardship Teams.  Register soon!  Space is limited.


About our Webinar Facilitator

Rev. Elder Don Eastman has long been one of MCC’s leading advocates of healthy church growth and excellence in ministry.  From his many years as a successful pastor, non-profit organization executive, and MCC denominational leader, he brings a wide range of experience and expertise.  As an Elder, Rev. Eastman served as both the Treasurer and Vice Moderator of the MCC denomination.



MCC General Conference Music Leader/Music Leader Assistant


The Music Leader Assistant will aid the Music Leader in the activities list above. It is our hope that the person serving as the Music Leader Assistant will serve as the Music Leader for GC 2019.

Apply Now! Please send resume highlighting music experience, 3 references, and a cover letter to Linda Brenner-Beckstead, Assistant to the Moderator, at

Questions? Contact Linda or

Resumes are due by January 31st.

Both the Music Leader and Music Leader Assistant will be asked to attend our first face-to-face meeting in Victoria, B.C., 10-14 March.

Help make Anti-LGBT “Conversion Therapy” Illegal in your state

We are continually alarmed by the number of people, especially youth, who are subjected to so-called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” that seeks to teach them that their sexual orientation and gender identify or expression is inherently evil and can be changed. This is not only an affront to our religious beliefs, it has been repudiated by the American

Medical Association and the American Psychological Association and condemned by those who have survived it.  It is spiritual and psychological abuse, and it is time to end it.  Only two states (California and New Jersey) and the District of Columbia have statutory bans on “conversion therapy.”  Several high profile teen suicides (Leelah Alcorn and countless others) offer us a wake up call.  We have the power to create meaningful change in the lives of marginalized youth.  We enlist your help to ban such harmful work in

every state in the nation.

Here are some actions you can take to help end so-called “conversion therapy” and to save the lives of countless LGBTQI persons who are forced to endure it:

  • Use to start your own online petition drive to force your state legislature to act.  Talk about why this is important, especially from your faith perspective.  New York’s petition provides model language if you would like to use it.
  • Share your petition on social media (and feel free to tag the Global Justice Institute and MCC).  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are popular options.  Use the hashtag  #BornPerfect
  • Meet with your State Representatives

    Photo Courtesy: Out & About Nashville

    and State Senators and ask them to sponsor legislation that would ban “conversion therapy.”  State legislatures are meeting now. If you need help crafting talking points, the Public Policy Team can help you.

  • The National Center for Lesbian Rights has attorneys and policy experts who can support your work.  They are working with sponsors in several states.  Check out their resource guide here.
  • Invite your congregation and pastoral care ministries to pray for those who have suffered through “conversion therapy.”  Intercessory prayer works.  It changes lives in ways seen and unseen.
  • Engage in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue about the harmful effects of “conversion therapy.”  Talk about the psychological and spiritual damage is causes. Several advocacy groups are making the victims’ stories available online.  Share them.  Teach our colleagues in ministry.  We can all work toward agreement to do no harm.

Leelah begged us to do these things.  In her suicide note, she said, “My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s f****d up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.”  Do it for all the other youth whom we do not know.   Help ban “conversion therapy” everywhere.   All of God’s children deserve our love, support, and action.


For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at


This action alert was prepared by the Public Policy Team of 

Metropolitan Community Churches and the Global Justice Institute.

National Campaigns Director – National LGBTQ Task Force


The National LGBTQ Task Force builds power, takes action and creates change to achieve freedom and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. As a progressive social justice organization, the Task Force works toward a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identity and achieves equity for all.



The National LGBTQ Task Force (Task Force) seeks a strong strategic thinker, a gifted coalition builder, and a talented faith organizer to lead the campaign work on religious exemptions and in welcoming faith movements. The ideal candidate will have the deep religious grounding, movement-building experience, and political sophistication necessary to: 1) lead and significantly grow the religious exemption campaign portfolio to its next level of impact and inclusiveness, 2) be a prominent public spokesperson for pro-LGBT religious perspectives on religious exemptions as well as other issues and 3) facilitate and lead networks of religious leaders and people of faith to mobilize them and build the necessary capacity to win campaigns on religious exemptions and in the welcoming faith movement.

The faith work of the Task Force has a continuing crucial niche, working to build pro-LGBT religious movement capacity and infrastructure and connect grassroots and grasstops leaders and strategies to accomplish policy change within faith settings, as well as in legislatures and at the ballot box. The Task Force will continue – through its faith work initiatives – to leverage its network of relationships to engage in direct action, grow its impact and inclusiveness into the future. Through unique partnerships our efforts will be focused on clarity of vision, collaboration and achieving long-term change together.

This is a management position reporting to the Director of the Academy for Leadership and Action

Location: Ideally, based in Washington DC.  The National Campaigns Director is expected to travel outside DC to connect with grassroots faith organizing leaders and work

Application opening/closing: The position is immediately available.  There is no prescribed closing date.  The Task Force will fill the position whenever it has identified an appropriate candidate.


The National Campaigns Director will lead and work in several areas:

  • Direct, collaborate and develop plans to expand welcoming communities throughout the United States to prepare for RE battles across the states.
  • Direct, collaborate and develop plans with faith leaders statewide as well as nationally to create interfaith grass tops programming to counter religious freedom measures, state to state
  • Develop strategies and, in collaboration with Task Force staff colleagues, to counter religious freedom measures from state to state
  • Implement strategies and tactics, including trainings, with the faith and states organizing team to counter religious freedom measures
  • Create and deliver faith-based messaging with state-based and national communications groups to counter religious freedom measures.
  • Direct, collaborate and develop relationship building methods with anti-lgbtq faith leaders and communities to counter religious freedom measures
  • Analyze, track and report on all religious freedom measures. Make recommendations on actions and programming related to these measures



In a 2006 merger, the Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR) became an initial faith work program of the Task Force. Since then, the faith work at the Task Force has evolved to include a range of faith work initiatives. The faith work of the Task Force is located within the Task Force’s Academy for Leadership and Action to maximize the evolving collaboration and mutual learning between faith and secular organizing.



  1. Experience organizing pro-LGBTQ people of faith in the LGBT movement to take action on social justice issues and proven success at delivering measurable results in a campaign environment.
  2. Proven ability to develop relationships with moderate to conservative faith leaders.
  3. Religious leader and professional with a history of service and a strong theological grounding. Immersed in their religious tradition. Able to inspire spiritual engagement of people in the movement. Sensitivity to and personal familiarity with issues facing LGBT religious/spiritual persons. Prefer welcoming movement experience.
  4. Action-oriented visionary with demonstrated passion and vision for pro-LGBT movement building and social change within and through faith communities. Experience within a social movement organization. Strategic thinker and decision-maker. Political savvy. Prefer experience and expertise with multiple models of organizing
  5. Proven network and collaborative leadership style, skills, and experience. Experience leading and facilitating groups of leaders toward a common purpose and joint action. Works well on a team and develops the leadership of others.
  6. Multi-faith values, depth of approach, and experience.
  7. Demonstrated commitment to and skill working at the intersections of faith, LGBT, and other progressive justice issues.
  8. Cultural competence and history of developing intercultural sensitivity working across diverse races, ethnicities, socio-economics, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
  9. Exceptional written, oral communications skills. Strong, confident, and credible advocate and spokesperson for pro-LGBT, intersectional, multi-faith religious work. Able to articulate a religiously grounded, accessible argument for the faith work.
  10. Motivated and capable of fundraising to significantly increase the Task Force’s resources. Can conceive of partnerships, programs, and projects that attract resources.
  11. Trustworthy relationship builder. Exceptional interpersonal communication skills. Honest, compassionate, and approachable. Sense of humor. Has a significant network of relationships and positive reputation to benefit the Task Force.
  12. Proven senior manager (of staff and consultants, projects, programs, and finances). Virtual supervisory experience highly desirable.
  13. Energetic and comfortable with an intense pace. Likes to be on the move and is available to travel at least 50% time. Hardworking and able to work in a virtual environment with a small team. Models and supports emotional health and self-care.
  14. Significant theological grounding through some religious education is required.
  15. Computer literate and proficient in mobile communication. Familiarity and experience with current social media tools is ideal.



Commensurate with experience. Provides excellent benefits — medical, dental and vision insurance; annual and sick leave; 403(b) plan.



Please submit a cover letter describing your interest in being a member of the Task Force staff, a resume addressing your experience and qualifications relevant to the position responsibilities and three examples of your work. If possible, please submit the names, affiliations and contact information for three references. Applications submitted via e-mail for this position should be directed to”, please write “National Campaigns Director: Religious Exemptions and Welcoming Movements” in the subject line. No phone calls, please.


The Task Force is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, personal appearance, family responsibility, political affiliation or any other status protected by applicable law. Women, transgender people, veterans and people of color are encouraged to apply.


Applications without cover letters will not be considered.

Human Resources Manager – National LGBTQ Task Force


The National LGBTQ Task Force builds power, takes action and creates change to achieve freedom
and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. As a progressive social
justice organization, the Task Force works toward a society that values and respects the diversity of
human expression and identity and achieves equity for all.

Human Resources Manager

Reports to: Chief Financial Officer
Position Location: Washington, DC

Work Schedule: We will consider applicants who are initially available on a part-time
(three day per week/22.5 hour) basis. Our goal is to have a full-time person in this role.

Summary: The Human Resources Manager is responsible for all aspects of personnel administration and human resource development, including the Task Force’s programs for recruiting, orientation, workplace training, and employee performance evaluation.

  • Coordinates the preparation and placement of notices and advertisements for open positions
  • Issues offer letters to prospective employees
  • Provides or oversees orientations for new hires
  • Maintains personnel files
  • Ensures proper implementation of personnel policies
  • Oversees compliance with state and federal laws (incl EEO/Affirmative Action, ERISA) and other relevant regulations and policies
  • Prepares required filings with federal, state and local government agencies for workers compensation, unemployment, census and similar requirements
  • Manages the employee performance review process
  • Maintains regular working knowledge of comparable compensation scales
  • Supports management working with the employee’s bargaining unit and District 1199E, SEIU
  • Advises management on matters related to best practice in human resources, personnel administration
  • Receives and process reports of employee misconduct or violation of the Code of Ethics as the Task Force’s Compliance Officer
  • Coordinates staff-wide training programs on workplace conduct and other topics
  • Works with Finance and Administration staff to design and deliver employee benefits, time & attendance reporting and payroll services.


  • Minimum of three (3) years experience in a senior role managing a human resources or personnel function
  • Three (3) to five (5) years experience designing, implementing and managing in-service training and professional development programs
  • Extensive experience counseling employees and dealing with a diverse employee base;
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and work independently with consistent follow through;
  • Excellent organizational skills required;
  • Excellent writing and oral communication skills
  • Experience working in a multi-cultural environment where commitment to diversity based on race, ethnic origin, gender, age, physical ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression is an important institutional value;

Salary commensurate with experience plus excellent benefits. Please submit a cover letter and resume addressing your experience with the above responsibilities and describing your interest in being a member of the Task Force staff. If possible, please submit the names and affiliations of three references. Apply via email at; please write “HR Manager” in the subject line.

The Task Force is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual
orientation, gender identity or expression, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status,
disability, personal appearance, family responsibility, political affiliation or any other status protected by
applicable law. Women, transgender people, veterans and people of color are encouraged to apply.

Applications without cover letters will not be considered.


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Selma to Montgomery


On the 50th Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March

Photo Credit Associated Press

On 2 January 1965 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC joined the SNCC, the Dallas County Voters League, and other local African American activists in a voting rights campaign in Selma where, in spite of repeated registration attempts by local blacks, only two percent were on the voting rolls. (See a voter registration form designed to keep African Americans off the rolls) SCLC had chosen to focus its efforts in Selma because they anticipated that the notorious brutality of local law enforcement under Sheriff Jim Clark would attract national attention and pressure President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress to enact new national voting rights legislation.

The campaign in Selma and nearby Marion, Alabama, progressed with mass arrests but little violence for the first month. That changed in February, however, when police attacks against nonviolent demonstrators increased. On the night of 18 February, Alabama state troopers joined local police breaking up an evening march in Marion. In the ensuing melee, a state trooper shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old church deacon from Marion, as he attempted to protect his mother from the trooper’s nightstick. Jackson died eight days later in a Selma hospital.

In response to Jackson’s death, activists in Selma and Marion set out on 7 March, to march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. While King was in Atlanta, his SCLC colleague Hosea Williams, and SNCC leader John Lewis led the march. The marchers made their way through Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they faced a blockade of state troopers and local lawmen commanded by Clark and Major John Cloud who ordered the marchers to disperse. When they did not, Cloud ordered his men to advance. Cheered on by white onlookers, the troopers attacked the crowd with clubs and tear gas. Mounted police chased retreating marchers and continued to beat them.

troopers attacked the crowd with clubs and tear gasPhoto Credit Spider Martin
Television coverage of ‘‘Bloody Sunday,’’ as the event became known, triggered national outrage. Lewis, who was severely beaten on the head, said: ‘‘I don’t see how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam—I don’t see how he can send troops to the Congo—I don’t see how he can send troops to Africa and can’t send troops to Selma,’’ (Reed, ‘‘Alabama Police Use Gas’’).

Alabama Police Use Gas
Photo Credit Associated Press

That evening King began a blitz of telegrams and public statements, ‘‘calling on religious leaders from all over the nation to join us on Tuesday in our peaceful, nonviolent march for freedom’’ (King, 7 March 1965). While King and Selma activists made plans to retry the march again two days later, Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. notified the movement attorney Fred Gray that he intended to issue a restraining order prohibiting the march until at least 11 March, and President Johnson pressured King to call off the march until the federal court order could provide protection to the marchers.

Forced to consider whether to disobey the pending court order, after consulting late into the night and early morning with other civil rights leaders and John Doar, the deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, King proceeded to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the afternoon of 9 March. He led more than 2,000 marchers, including hundreds of clergy who had answered King’s call on short notice, to the site of Sunday’s attack, then stopped and asked them to kneel and pray. After prayers they rose and turned the march back to Selma, avoiding another confrontation with state troopers and skirting the issue of whether to obey Judge Johnson’s court order. Many marchers were critical of King’s unexpected decision not to push on to Montgomery, but the restraint gained support from President Johnson, who issued a public statement: ‘‘Americans everywhere join in deploring the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote’’ (Hear the President Johnson’s Statement 2:10:14). Johnson promised to introduce a voting rights bill to Congress within a few days.

That evening, several local whites attacked James Reeb, a white Unitarian minister who had come from Massachusetts to join the protest. His death two days later contributed to the rising national concern over the situation in Alabama. Johnson personally telephoned his condolences to Reeb’s widow and met with Alabama Governor George Wallace, pressuring him to protect marchers and support universal suffrage.

On 15 March Johnson addressed the Congress, identifying himself with the demonstrators in Selma in a televised address: ‘‘Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome’’ (Johnson, ‘‘Special Message’’). The following day Selma demonstrators submitted a detailed march plan to federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., who approved the demonstration and enjoined Governor Wallace and local law enforcement from harassing or threatening marchers. On 17 March President Johnson submitted voting rights legislation to Congress.

The federally sanctioned march left Selma on 21 March. Protected by hundreds of federalized Alabama National Guardsmen and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, the demonstrators covered between 7 to 17 miles per day. Camping at night in supporters’ yards, they were entertained by celebrities such as Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. Limited by Judge Johnson’s order to 300 marchers over a stretch of two-lane highway, the number of demonstrators swelled on the last day to 25,000, accompanied by Assistant Attorneys General John Doar and Ramsey Clark, and former Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall, among others.
On 25 March 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, where local African Americans, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had been campaigning for voting rights. King told the assembled crowd: ‘‘There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes’’ (King, ‘‘Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March,’’ 121).
During the final rally, held on the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, King proclaimed: ‘‘The end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man’’ (King, ‘‘Address,’’ 130). Afterward a delegation of march leaders attempted to deliver a petition to Governor Wallace, but were rebuffed. That night, while ferrying Selma demonstrators back home from Montgomery, Viola Liuzzo, a housewife from Michigan who had come to Alabama to volunteer, was shot and killed by four members of the Ku Klux Klan. Doar later prosecuted three Klansmen conspiring to violate her civil rights.

On 6 August, in the presence of King and other civil rights leaders, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recalling ‘‘the outrage of Selma,’’ Johnson called the right to vote ‘‘the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men’’ (Johnson, ‘‘Remarks’’). In his annual address to SCLC a few days later, King noted that ‘‘Montgomery led to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960; Birmingham inspired the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Selma produced the voting rights legislation of 1965’’ (King, 11 August 1965).

1965 Selma to Montgomery March Fast Facts

February 1965 - Marches and demonstrations over voter registration prompt Alabama Governor George C. Wallace to ban nighttime demonstrations in Selma and Marion, Alabama.


February 18, 1965 - During a march in Marion, state troopers attack the demonstrators. State trooper James Bonard Fowler shoots and kills Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler was charged with murder in 2007 and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2010.


March 7, 1965 - About 600 people begin a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama, led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams. Marchers demand an end to discrimination in voter registration. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state and local lawmen attack the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas, driving them back to Selma.


March 9, 1965 - Martin Luther King, Jr. leads another march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The march is largely symbolic; as arranged previously, the crowd turns back at a barricade of state troopers. Demonstrations are held in cities across the U.S. to show solidarity with the Selma marchers.

March 9, 1965 - President Lyndon Johnson speaks out against the violence in Selma and urges both sides to respect the law.


March 9, 1965 - Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb, in Selma to join marchers, is attacked by a group of white men and beaten. He dies of his injuries two days later.


March 10, 1965 - The U.S. Justice Department files suit in Montgomery, Alabama asking for an order to prevent the state from punishing any person involved in a demonstration for civil rights.


March 17, 1965 - Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. rules in favor of the marchers. “The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups.”

March 18, 1965 - Governor Wallace goes before the state legislature to condemn Johnson’s ruling. He states that Alabama cannot provide the security measures needed, blames the federal government, and says he will call on the federal government for help.


March 19, 1965 - Governor Wallace sends a telegram to President Johnson asking for help, saying that the state does not have enough troops and cannot bear the financial burden of calling up the Alabama National Guard.


March 20, 1965 - President Johnson issues an executive order federalizing the Alabama National Guard and authorizes whatever federal forces the Defense Secretary deems necessary.


March 21, 1965 - About 3,200 people march out of Selma for Montgomery under the protection of federal troops. They walk about 12 miles a day and sleep in fields at night.


March 25, 1965 - The marchers reach the state capitol in Montgomery. The number of marchers grows to about 25,000.


Garrow, Protest at Selma, 1978.

Johnson, ‘‘Remarks in the Capitol Rotunda at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act,’’ 6 August 1966, in Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, bk.2, 1966.

Johnson, ‘‘Special Remarks to the Congress: The American Promise,’’ 15 March 1965, in Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, bk. 1, 1966.

Johnson, ‘‘Statement by the President on the Situation in Selma, Alabama,’’ 9 March 1965, in Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, bk. 1, 1966.

King, ‘‘Address at Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March,’’ in A Call to Conscience, Carson and Shepard, eds., 2001.

King, Annual report at SCLC convention, 11 August 1965, MLKJP-GAMK.

King, Statement on violence committed by state troopers in Selma, Alabama, 7 March 1965, MLKJP-GAMK.

King to Elder G. Hawkins, 8 March 1965, NCCP-PPPrHi.

Lewis, Walking with the Wind, 1998.

Roy Reed, ‘‘Alabama Police Use Gas and Clubs to Rout Negroes,’’ New York Times, 8 March 1965.

Black History 2015

A Century of Black Life, History and Culture

Over the past century, African American life, history, and culture have become major forces in the United States and the world. In 1915, few could have imagined that African Americans in music, art, and literature would become appreciated by the global community. Fewer still could have predicted the prominence achieved by African Americans, as well as other people of African descent, in shaping world politics, war, and diplomacy. Indeed, it was nearly universally believed that Africans and people of African descent had played no role in the unfolding of history and were a threat to American civilization itself. A century later, few can deny the centrality of African Americans in the making of American history.
This transformation is the result of effort, not chance. Confident that their struggles mattered in human history, black scholars, artists, athletes, and leaders self-consciously used their talents to change how the world viewed African Americans. The New Negro of the post-World War I era made modernity their own and gave the world a cornucopia of cultural gifts, including jazz, poetry based on the black vernacular, and an appreciation of African art. African American athletes dominated individual and team sports, changing baseball, track-and-field, football, boxing, and basketball. In a wave of social movements, African American activism transformed race relations, challenged American foreign policy, and became the American conscience on human rights.

While the spotlight often shines on individuals, this movement is the product of organization, of institutions and of institution-builders who gave direction to effort. The National Urban League promoted the Harlem Renaissance. The preservation of the black past became the mission of Arturo Schomburg and Jesse Moorland, leading to the rise of the Schomburg Research Center in Black Culture and Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. The vision of Margaret Boroughs and others led to the African American museum movement, leading to the creation of black museums throughout the nation, culminating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Student activism of the 1960s resulted in the Black Studies Movement and the creation of black professional associations, including the National Council of Black Studies, and a host of doctoral programs at major American universities.

At the dawn of these strivings and at all points along the road, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has played a vital role. When he founded the Association in 1915, Carter G. Woodson labored under the belief that historical truth would crush falsehoods and usher in a new era of equality, opportunity, and racial democracy, and it has been its charge for a century. In honor of this milestone, ASALH has selected “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” as the 2015 National Black History theme.


Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.


The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.

In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2015 theme, At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, marks the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history.

National Museums

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.

Resources for Children, Youth and Educators

Black History Month Resources and Information for Children and Youth

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access


National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative for Blacks in the United States and across the Diaspora.

There are four specific focal points: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved, and Get Treated.

Get Educated

The focus of NBHAAD is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV and AIDS in their local communities.

Learn More


Get Tested

Testing is at the core of this initiative and is critical for prevention of HIV in Black communities. It is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7 of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV.

This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV.

Find a testing center near you.

Get Involved

Getting Blacks involved to host and participate in NBHAAD events is another key focus area. Whether it is organizing a testing and awareness event at a local college, speaking about the importance of HIV prevention and treatment at your local faith-based organizations, or supporting a local AIDS service provider, it is key that you get involved.

Check out the Toolkit

Get Treated

For those who have HIV, the connections to treatment and care services are paramount. Seeing a doctor and receiving care, and taking prescribed HIV medicines helps individuals stay healthy and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Without treatment, HIV leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and can lead to early death.

Get Treatment


MCC Celebrates Historic and Modern African American LGBTQ Persons During 2015 Black History Month

The Arts

alicewalkerAlice Walker (1944 -)

“I am bisexual. I just live my life. I don’t think I have to phone in and tell everybody.”

Alice Walker is an internationally celebrated author, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry. She’s best known for The Color Purple, the 1983 novel for which she won the Pulitzer Prize—the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, though (in her opinion) not the first African American woman to deserve it —and the National Book Award. The award-winning novel was adapted for Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film and later for the stage, opening at New York City’s Broadway Theatre in 2005, winning a Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical in 2006.

James BaldwinJames Baldwin (1924-1987)

“I’m both black and gay. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve hit the jackpot.” –James Baldwin

James Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. The oldest of nine children, he grew up in poverty, developing a troubled relationship with his strict, religious father. After writing a number of pieces that were published in various magazines, Baldwin went to Switzerland to finish his first novel. Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, was an autobiographical work about growing up in Harlem. The passion and depth with which he described the struggles of black Americans was unlike anything that had been written. Though not instantly recognized as such, Go Tell It on the Mountain has long been considered an American classic.

Audre LordeAudre Lorde (1934 – 1992)

“We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way.”

Born in New York City of West Indian parents, Lorde was educated at Hunter College and Columbia University. On completing a master’s degree in library studies in 1961 at Columbia University. Audre Lorde names herself as “a black feminist lesbian mother poet” and her writings from poetry to novels and what Lorde refers to as “biomythography”. Many of her poems are available online and in volumes spanning four decades. Political activism as a black feminist appears in her 1984 volume, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches explores the fear and hatred existing between African American men and women, feminists, or lesbians and the challenge between African American women and white women to find common ground. and

Langston HughesLangston Hughes (1902 – 1967)

“We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”
James Mercer Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. He published his first poem in 1921. He attended Columbia University, but left after one year to travel. His poetry was later promoted by Vachel Lindsay, and Hughes published his first book in 1926. He went on to write countless works of poetry, prose and plays, as well as a popular column for the Chicago Defender. He died on May 22, 1967.

Angelina Weld GrimkeAngelina Weld Grimke (1880-1958)

“…Oh Mamie, if you only knew how my heart beats when I think of you, and it yearns and pants to gaze– if only for one second– upon your lovely face.”
Grimké was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1880. Her mother, Sarah E. Stanley, was white and worked as a scholar and a homemaker. Grimké’s father, Archibald Henry Grimké, was a highly regarded attorney, diplomat, and scholar. Her parents had a turbulent and difficult relationship, in part due to the pressures of being a mixed-race couple, and they separated in 1883. Grimké’s mother moved to San Diego, California, and made a career as a lecturer on occult subjects, but had very little contact with her daughter after leaving Boston. Raised by her father in an environment that ranked education and social grace above all else, Grimké excelled academically and in public, but was privately haunted by the intense pressure she felt to succeed in his eyes.

Lorraine HansberryLorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)

Author and the first African American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Lorraine Hansberry’s parents were activists and won a long legal battle against housing segregation in Chicago after they moved into a predominantly white neighborhood. It was these events that inspired Hansberry to write “A Raisin in the Sun.” It was during this activism that she met her husband, Robert Nemiroff. The two were together romantically only briefly, but their relationship remained close—they didn’t divorce until the end of her life—and, for decades, historians viewed Hansberry’s personal life through that lens. But throughout her short life—Hansberry died of cancer at 34—she engaged both a personal and a political search for sexual freedom and articulated a still-urgent understanding of its relationship to gender equality. It’s unclear whether Hansberry would have called herself a “lesbian,” primarily because she and others were still in the process of developing the concept of such a clearly defined sexual identity. But she dated women and, more strikingly, joined the country’s first-ever lesbian political organization, the now-defunct Daughters of Bilitis, at a time when doing so made you a target of federal law enforcement.

Keith BoykinKeith Boykin (1965 – present)
Boykin, a twentieth/twenty-first century Black gay man, writes poignantly about the experiences of being both Black and gay in the United States and about the intersections between the two. Here he reminds us that prejudice comes from the same root source, regardless of how it manifests itself over the centuries. Because of this, it is critical that we, as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people and our allies of all colors, explore Black history and honor ourselves and others who are on this path to freedom.

Bessie SmithBessie Smith (1894-1937)

In the age of the Harlem Renaissance, her voice personifies an era of blues and jazz. “Empress of the Blues” is the regal title rightly bestowed upon Bessie Smith, whose history has been filled with persistent, colorful legends. Gifted with a powerful voice and sophisticated musical artistry, she conducted her life by her own set of rules and had affairs with both men and women. Bessie’s relationships included a volatile, near-fatal affair in 1926 with chorus girl Lillian Simpson.
Other noted bisexual African American singers of the early 20th century include: Ma Rainey, Josephine Baker and Ethel Waters.

Francis Warren NichollsFrancis Warren Nicholls, Jr., a/k/a Frankie Knuckles (1955 – 2014)

Knuckles was born January 18, 1955 in The Bronx, New York; he later moved to Chicago. He played an important role in developing and popularizing house music in Chicago during the 1980s, when the genre was in its infancy. Due to his importance in the development of the genre, Knuckles was often known as “The Godfather of House Music.” Chicago named a stretch of street and a day after Knuckles in 2004 for this role. His accomplishments earned him a Grammy Award in 1997. Knuckles was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005 as recognition for his achievements.
Knuckles was so popular that the Warehouse, initially a members-only club for largely black gay men, began attracting straighter, whiter crowds, leading its owner, Robert Williams, to eschew membership. He continued DJing at the Warehouse until November 1982, when he started his own club in Chicago, The Power Plant.

Alberta HunterAlberta Hunter (1895 – 1984)

Alberta ran away from home in Memphis to Chicago at 12 years old to become a blues singer. She landed in the Bronzeville neighborhood as popular singer, began a relationship with Lottie Taylor and worked at a club on S. State Street in Bronzeville with gay piano player Tony Jackson. She performed in Chicago’s queer Bronzeville until 1921 when the piano player was murdered during a show. After that she relocated to New York and continued her rise to stardom.

Tony JacksonTony Jackson (1884 – 1921)

Originally from New Orleans, he arrived in Chicago as a southern style Ragtime and Jazz pianist. In Chicago he could be openly gay, write songs and play piano in the Bronzeville clubs. He died from complications due to alcoholism in 1921.

RuPaul Andre CharlesRuPaul Andre Charles (1960 – present)

“With hair, heels, and attitude, honey, I am through the roof.”

Born Rupaul Andre Charles on November 17 1960, he grew up in San Diego, learning fashion tips from his mother and three sisters. After some time living in Atlanta doing odd jobs such as a used-car salesman, RuPaul moved to New York by the early ’90s. He had begun performing in local Manhattan clubs and became a popular attraction through his various flamboyant acts on stage. After battling drug addiction and living in poverty Rupaul was given a record contract by the famous duo Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, with the hip-hop label Tommy Boy Records. His debut album, “Supermodel of the World”, was released in 1993, but it failed on the Billboard Charts until the following year, when the success of the single “Supermodel (You Better Work)” a tribute to the divas of the fashion world placed in the top 30 on the Pop Charts. The music video for “Supermodel” was nominated for Best Dance Video at the 1994 MTV video music awards. In 1992 he met Mathu his make-up artist and Zaldy his costume designer, the two studied every inch of his body and went on to create some of Rupaul’s most famous costumes and build what he calls the “Glamazon Look”. The success of “Supermodel” had Rupaul performing at a Gay rights rally in Washington D.C., on the same spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Joan ArmatradingJoan Armatrading (1950 – present)

Born in 1950 on the island of St. Kitts, British singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading was her country’s — as well as Britain’s — first woman to make commercial inroads into her chosen genre, spicing her take on folk with elements of rock, blues, and jazz, and has had a remarkably long, consistent career. Armatrading immigrated to England in 1958 and began writing songs six years later. In 1970, she met lyricist Pam Nestor at a touring production of Hair, and the two began collaborating on material later featured on Armatrading’s 1972 debut, Whatever’s for Us. The two ended their partnership afterward, and Armatrading resurfaced in 1975 with Back to the Night. Featuring former members of Fairport Convention, 1976’s Joan Armatrading catapulted the singer into the U.K. Top 20 and produced her only Top Ten single, “Love and Affection.” Armatrading’s subsequent albums sold well in the U.K. to her newly established fan base but only respectably in the U.S., where it took her until 1980 to have a real hit (the all-electric Me Myself I). The Key also did quite well, but Armatrading remained largely a cult artist with a small but devoted following in America, never quite achieving the stardom she had in Britain. Armatrading has been successful enough to tour and record regularly into the new millennium. She released Lovers Speak (Denon, 2003), Live: All the Way from America (Savoy, 2004), and her first all-blues project, Into the Blues (429, 2007), which debuted at number one on Billboard’s Blues Albums chart — a first for a U.K. female artist. The rollicking This Charming Life (also 429) arrived early in 2010, followed by Starlight in 2013.


Bayard RustinBayard Rustin (1912 – 1987)

Born in 1912, he grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he excelled as a student, athlete and musician. As a Quaker committed to non-violence, a master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement, and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence. Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. The recent film Brother Outsider depicts his incredible life-long pursuit of justice and peace making.

Barbara JordonBarbara Jordon (1936 – 1996)

“When do any of us do enough?”

Born on February 21, 1936, in Houston, Texas, Barbara Jordan was a lawyer and educator who was a congresswoman from 1972 to 1978—the first African-American congresswoman to come from the deep South and the first woman ever elected to the Texas Senate (1966). She captured the attention of President Lyndon Johnson, who invited her to the White House for a preview of his 1967 civil rights message.

Clarence H. ThomasClarence H. Thomas (1919 – 2009)

During World War II, Clarence served as an intelligence officer for the 99th Pursuit Squadron, which later became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. He achieved the rank of Captain and was honorably discharged in 1946. He served the Chicago Public School system for more than 27 years as a teacher and assistant principal, spending most of those years at the Ray School in Hyde Park, where he retired in 1987. Clarence was known by all who knew him as a classicist, enjoying classical music and frequently attending the theater, opera, and the symphony. Clarence was a member of AChurch4Me MCC.

Vernita GrayVernita Gray (1949 – 2014)

Vernita Gray, was one of Chicago’s longest and most prolific activists for LGBT rights. She organized a gay and lesbian hotline in 1969 and hosted support groups in her home. She has published extensively in literary and poetry magazines and was an early leader in the Chicago gay liberation movement. She died March 19, 2014. She and her wife, Pat Ewert, were the first same-gender first couple legally married in Illinois, authorized by a special petition due to her terminal illness.

Kenneth ReevesKenneth Reeves (1951 – present)

Kenneth E. Reeves was born and brought up in Detroit, Michigan. He attended the legendary Cass Technical High School, and graduated a year after Detroit’s turbulent 1967 riots. He attended Harvard College and graduated cum laude at 1972. Reeves served as the mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, from 1992 to 1995 and again from 2006 to 2007. He is the first openly gay African-American man to have served as mayor of any city in the United States.
Reeves was succeeded as mayor in 2008 by E. Denise Simmons, who became the first openly lesbian African-American mayor in the United States.

Lois BatesLois Bates (1970 – 2011)

There were few in Chicago’s transgender community who did not know — or at least know of — Lois Bates. A fixture at Chicago’s Howard Brown Health Center, a health care and research center that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Ms. Bates created support groups for trans youth and adults and worked tirelessly on HIV prevention. Besides being and outspoken HIV activist, she was also a former member of the Navy, a cosmetologist, a postal worker, security guard, minister and a member of the Pillar of Love Fellowship United Church of Christ. Of all these achievements, she is remembered for her trans-advocacy work. Bates passed away on Nov 17, 2011 at 41 years old.


Sheryl SwoopsSheryl Swoops (1971 – present)

Basketball star Sheryl Swoopes has been a champion in college, Olympic, and professional competition. Swoopes became an Olympian in 1996 and was a key player on the United States women’s basketball team that won the gold medal at the Atlanta games. Swoopes married Eric Jackson, her high school sweetheart, in 1995. When the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) formed in 1997, Swoopes was the first player drafted. Her marriage began disintegrating in 1998. Swoopes found a sympathetic ear in newly-arrived Houston Comets assistant coach Alisa Scott, with whom she soon fell in love. In 2005 she publicly came out as a lesbian and acknowledged her committed relationship with another woman.

Michael SamMichael Sam (1970 – present)

Born on January 7, 1990, in Hitchcock, Texas, Michael Sam overcame a difficult childhood to become a promising football player. After revealing his homosexuality to teammates at the University of Missouri, he was named the conference co-defensive player of the year as a senior. Sam announced his orientation to the public in early 2014, and in May he became the first openly gay player to be selected by the NFL. Later during the year he dealt with professional challenges, being cut from two team rosters, yet was still named as one of GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year.

Voices from the Church

Rev. Elder Darlene GarnerRev. Elder Darlene Garner ( 1948 – present)


From Columbus, Ohio USA, Darlene Garner is a lesbian Christian woman of African, Cherokee, and Irish descent with a National Baptist and Episcopal spiritual heritage. She came out as a lesbian in 1973 and joined Metropolitan Community Churches in 1976. As a lay person, she served as a Church Treasurer, Lay Delegate, and Assistant District Coordinator. Garner was ordained to the professional ministry in 1988 and has served as Associate Pastor of MCC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pastor of MCC in Baltimore, Maryland; Senior Pastor of MCC of Northern Virginia in Fairfax, Virginia; and Interim Pastor of Good Hope MCC in Cape Town, South Africa. Since 1998, she has been the convener of the MCC Conference for People of African Descent, Our Friends, and Allies. On the MCC Council of Elders since 1993, Darlene Garner served as Clerk of the denomination for ten years and Vice-Moderator for three years. She currently supports the Networks of churches and leaders in Australia/New Zealand, Latin America/Caribbean, Western Europe/United Kingdom, and Southern California/Nevada. In addition, she is the Director of the Office of Emerging Ministries, which provides oversight of and support for new church starts, affiliations, diversity and inclusivity, special projects, and missiology. Garner has attended Ohio State University, Samaritan College, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. She is the mother of four adult children, has seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Garner and Rev. Candy Holmes were married in March 2010 and live with their canine son, Joey in Bowie, Maryland USA.

James ClevelandJames Cleveland (1932-1991)

James Cleveland was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1931 to Rosie Lee and Benjamin Cleveland during the height of the greatest depression. James’ grandmother attended Pilgrim Baptist Church, where she was a member of the choir. James had no choice but to attend these rehearsals with his grandmother and found himself sitting through these choir rehearsals – bored stiff!! Eventually James decided he would conquer the boredom through attempting to sing along with the choir. It was in one of these rehearsal that James’ singing was noticed and he was made choir mascot. The choir director, Thomas A. Dorsey wrote a song for him which launched the career of what was to be a long line of performances. Through Dorsey’s teaching and directing young James was influenced in a great way. Cleveland wrote more than 400 songs, recorded more than 100 albums, and won four Grammys. He founded the Gospel Music Workshop of America and mentored a young Aretha Franklin, and inspired an entire generation of musicians and singers. He remained closeted, though after his death in 1991 from AIDS, many began to speak about their relationships and experiences with Cleveland.

B. SladeB. Slade a/k/a Ton3x a/k/a Tonex (1975 – present)

Anthony Charles Williams II of San Diego, California, better known by his stage name B. Slade, formerly known under the gospel moniker Tonéx, is an American singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, rapper, dancer, producer, and activist from San Diego, CA. He has gone by various names and aliases, but his primary stage name of choice had for years been “Tonéx”. In 2010, he began using the stage name B.Slade in order to repackage himself. Williams has released several hundred songs on dozens of albums over the span of his career, while producing several others for both gospel and secular artists. He has won six Stellar Awards, a GMA Award, and received 2 Grammy nominations: one for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album for his 2004 gold album, Out The Box and another in 2009 for Best Urban/Soul Alternative Performance for his single, “Blend”, from his 2009 mainstream (albeit theoretically Gospel) album, Unspoken. Known more for his gospel recordings, his musical efforts have been known to blend a smorgasbord of styles, including pop, r&b, jazz, soul, funk, hip hop, rock, latin, electro, punk and trance. His primary influences include Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Prince, Michael Jackson, Walter Hawkins, David Bowie, and Janet Jackson. His distinct sound and eclectic style of music led him to give his music its own genre per se, calling it “Nureau”.

Rev. Peter GomesRev. Peter Gomes (1942 – 2011)

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942, the Rev. Prof. Peter J. Gomes was an American Baptist minister ordained to the Christian Ministry by the First Baptist Church of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Since 1970 he served in The Memorial Church, Harvard University; and since 1974 was Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church. Gomes, was a nationally influential Baptist minister and advocate for tolerance who died in 2011 at 68 years old. As an openly gay black man respected for his academic work in the American Religious Academy and churches, he published 11 volumes of sermons, as well as books, including 1996′s “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” in which he analyzed the Bible’s use in marginalizing Jews, blacks, women, and gays. He condemned those who used the Bible to justify racism, oppression and homophobia, but also steadfastly defended the text’s message. Peter was a friend of MCC and gay Christians across America.

Bishop Yvette FlunderBishop Yvette Flunder ( – present)

Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder is founder and Senior Pastor of the City of Refuge UCC and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-denominational fellowship of 56 primarily African American Christian churches. A native San Franciscan, Flunder was raised a devout Pentecostal. As a young adult, she returned to San Francisco where she graduated from the College of San Mateo and began a career in social justice ministry that continues in her ministerial work today. In 1984, she began performing and recording with “Walter Hawkins and the Family” and the Love Center Choir. She remained with Love Center until 1991 when she felt called to plant a church which became City of Refuge. Seeking to respond to the needs of the AIDS epidemic, the church also opened Ark of Refuge, Inc., a non-profit agency that provides housing, direct services, education, and training for persons affected with HIV/AIDS in the San Francisco Bay area, throughout the United States, and in three countries in Africa. Bishop Flunder is also an ordained Minister of the United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Churches and a graduate of the Ministry Studies and Master of Arts programs at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California. She received a Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California. Personally, she enjoys her familial relationships with her wife, brother, daughters, and grandsons.

Delores BerryDelores Berry ( – present)

The Rev. Delores Berry answered her call to ministry at the age of 19. She is a former Christian Methodist Episcopal Minister (CME). She began her ministry at the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1975, and transferred her credentials from the CME church in 1976. Rev. Berry was ordained in the UFMCC in 1983. One of her first official positions with UFMCC was as a member of the Fellowship’s Evangelistic Team. In 1978, Rev. Berry was one of the co-founders of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays. She assisted in organizing the first Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in D.C. and assisted in organizing the first People of Color Gay and Lesbian White House Conference. Rev. Berry has served as District Coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic District and assistant pastor of MCC Baltimore, Maryland. Berry simultaneously pastored Good Samaritan MCC (Norfolk) and MCC Peninsula (Newport News). During this time, she facilitated the merger of these churches to become New Life MCC, Norfolk, Virginia, and continued as pastor of New Life after the merger. Rev. Berry’s last pastorate was with MCC Portland, Oregon.Rev. Berry has been working as a full-time Evangelist in UFMCC since 1987.

Rev. Cedric HarmonRev. Cedric Harmon ( – present)

Co-Director of Many Voices and an ordained pastor affiliated with the National Baptist and Missionary Baptist Churches, Cedric served as religious organizer for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. For 13 years, he recruited and trained clergy from around the country to provide legislative testimony about issues of religion and government. He’s also known for his writing and television appearances—again on human rights and social justice—and serves on several boards having to do with sexuality and religion. Notably, in the heat of the debate over marriage equality in the District of Columbia, Cedric quietly invited pastors and ministers who had spoken on other justice issues to publicly support marriage equality. His skill in helping them make the connection, and then filling in the gaps so they felt prepared to go public with their new understanding, enabled the DC Council to pass marriage equality with the support of African American clergy.


Reflexión de Adviento para el día de Navidad 25 de diciembre de 2014


Reflexión de Adviento para el día de Navidad

25 de diciembre de 2014

Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez

“La Palabra se hizo carne y habitó entre nosotros.”

Juan 1:14


Hoy celebramos la Navidad, un día de alegría y felicidad para muchas personas de Buena voluntad, especialmente para aquellos que reconocen que Jesús es el nuevo camino universal y sagrado por el que Dios se ofrece a nuestro mundo.


El Prólogo del Evangelio de Juan, propone para nuestra reflexión, un himno al Verbo/Palabra de Dios, a la Verdad, a la Luz, la cual es Jesús mismo, quien tiene un descenso dinámico. En el principio era la PALABRA, estaba junto a Dios y por ella fueron hechas todas las cosas. Es la Palabra pre-existente, junto a Dios y antes de todos los tiempos.


Esta Palabra, la cual es Jesús, puso su morada entre nosotros, se hizo carne, asumió nuestra condición humana, se hizo una persona como nosotras y a través de él, probamos a Dios. Es a través de esta Luz, que es Jesús, que sus discípulos no recibieron solo una información introductora sobre lo que Dios es, sino que fueron bienvenidos a la misma herencia de Dios.


Como podemos ver es un texto profundamente teológico, que expresa el misterio de la encarnación. Dios llega a ser humano, asumiendo la temporalidad y limitación de la humanidad, para crear personas ilimitadas e infinitas. Dios llegó a ser humano, para introducir la humanidad en la imagen de Dios.


Cantamos con alegría la presencia de Jesús entre nosotros y nosotras, entre nuestras comunidades. Mientras celebramos el misterio de la Encarnación de Cristo, debemos enviar una invitación a llamar, o incluso a gritar a cada uno para que: ¡Vengan! ¡Vengan porque el Niño Jesús nos espera! ¡Vengan porque algo tremendamente bueno está preparado para todas las personas!


Nuestra invitación, en este día glorioso, intenta llegar a toda la humanidad. En primer lugar a aquellas personas que piensan y buscan establecer la Paz en este mundo. En segundo lugar, nuestra invitación es para aquellas personas que trabajan y sufren tratando de que la Paz se establezca en este mundo.



Nuestra invitación es que vengan y encuentre las buenas nuevas, las que la Navidad anuncia para todas las personas. Que la prosperidad y la paz; la buena conciencia y la ley del amor; la fraternidad y la sororidad; que la solidaridad y la colaboración son los regalos que la Navidad nos ofrece.


A nombre de ICM, este Día de Navidad, quiero expresar a aquellas personas que no nos conocen; que no nos comprenden; que incluso piensan que somos inútiles, no necesarios y un error de la naturaleza; también a aquellas personas que están en nuestra contra y que piensan que hacen bien odiándonos; que les saludamos a todas ellas con los dones de paz y amor, y les expresamos que estamos orando continuamente por su continuo bienestar.


ICM está comprometida con el Transformarnos al transformar el mundo, y hoy más que nunca, queremos estar al lado de todas aquellas personas que están trabajando por establecer la dignidad y la paz en cada rincón de nuestro mundo.


P. D.


Tengo que confesar que la Navidad, no es una de mis fiestas favoritas durante el año, y la principal razón, es que en mi imaginario teológico, es la Pascua la celebración central que nos ofrece esperanza y luz en nuestras vidas cristianas. La Navidad desde mi perspectiva, nos ha sido robada a las Iglesias por el mundo consumista.


Sumo mi espíritu a todas aquellas que proclaman recordándonos que Jesús es la razón de la Navidad.


Advent Reflection for Christmas 25 December 2014


Advent Reflection for Christmas 

25 December 2014

Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

John 1:14

Today we celebrate Christmas, a day of celebration of joy and happiness for all the people of good will, especially for those who recognized that Jesus is the new universal and sacred way, God is offered into our world.


The prologue of the Gospel of John proposes for our reflection, a hymn to the VERB, WORD of God, to the truth, to the light, which is Jesus himself, who has a descending dynamic. In the beginning is the WORD, a facet of God, and She made all things. It is the pre-existent WORD, beside God and before all time.


This WORD, which is also Jesus, makes his dwelling among us, becomes flesh, assumes the human condition, becomes one of us, and through him, we experience God. It is through this Light, that is Jesus, that his disciples did not receive mere introduction to and information about God, but obtained welcome as full heirs of God.

As you can see, it is a very deep theological text. It expresses the mystery of the incarnation. God becomes human, assuming the temporality and limitation of humanity in order to create unlimited and infinite people. God becoming human, in order to reproduce humanity into the very image of God.

We sing with joy about the presence of Jesus among us, among our communities. While celebrating the mystery of Christ´s Incarnation, we must send an invitation, a call, or even a cry to everyone to: Come! Come because the Baby Jesus is waiting for all of us! Come because something terrifically good is prepared for all of us!

Our invitation on this glorious day is intended to reach all humanity. First, to those who are thinking about and looking to establish Peace in this world! Second, our invitation is to those who work and suffer because they are trying to establish Peace in this world!


Our invitation is to come and find the good news that Christmas is announcing to everyone. That the prosperity and the peace; the good conscience and the law of love; the fraternity and sorority; the solidarity and the collaboration, are all presents that Christmas is bringing for us.


On behalf of MCC, on this Christmas Day, I want to express to those who do not know us; who do not understand us; to those who even think that we are useless, unnecessary and mistakes of nature; to those who are against us and believe they are doing good by hating us, we must greet all of them with the gifts of hope and love, and let them know that we will pray for their continued well-being.


MCC’s commitment is to Transform Ourselves as We Transform the World, and now more than ever, we want to be side by side with all of those who are working to establish dignity for all and peace in every corner of our earth.


P. S.


I need to confess this is not my favorite holiday of the year, and the main reason is that in my theological imaginary, Easter is the central celebration that brings the hope and light into our Christian lives. Christmas, from my perspective, has been stolen from the church by the consumerist world.


I add my spirit to all the people who use their spirits, to remind us that Christ is the reason for the season.



Now, a little more inclusively,

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raising,
Let all within us praise your holy name
Christ is our God! Oh, praise Your name forever!
Your power and glory evermore proclaim
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine!

May the power of the One who grew up to turn over tables of injustice, heal every disease, and connect us to all that is divine, good and holy, this night.


Here’s one of my favorite versions:

  • Reflexión de Adviento para el día de Navidad 25 de diciembre de 2014
  • Advent Reflection for Christmas 25 December 2014
  • Reflexión de Adviento para la Víspera de Navidad 24 de diciembre de 2014
  • Advent Reflection for Christmas Eve 24 December 2014
  • Reflexión para el Cuarto Domingo de Adviento 21 de diciembre de 2014
  • Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 21 December 2014
  • Reflexión del Tercer Domingo de Adviento 14 de diciembre de 2014
  • Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent 14 December 2014
  • Reflexión para el Segundo Domingo de Adviento 7 de diciembre de 2014
  • Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent 7 December 2014
  • Reflexión para el Primer Domingo de Adviento 30 Noviembre 2014
  • Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent 30 November 2014