Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recap of We Still Have a Dream, and What's Next

The news has come in, the videos and photos are being posted, and now that the protest (and historical inauguration of President Obama) are done, it's time to look toward the future.

We had no idea what to expect as far as turnout to We Still Have a Dream, but at the peak there were a little over 100 of us standing on the southwest corner of Auburn and Jackson to convey our protest message. Unfortunately we were cordoned off well away from where most of the general public was entering Ebenezer, which we found a bit concerning from a free assembly perspective, but it wasn't a loss, as the most important audience (the media) took notice.

As an organization, we'd like to thank the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition for their hard work and dedication in planning this event. While many people came into this with different views and ideas, the Coalition showed strong leadership. Without them, the event would not have been as successful as it was.

We have to take a moment to clarify one point of information glossed over by the news media. GLBT|ATL and the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition did not participate in the in-church protest action conducted by another organization. We certainly appreciate the great diversity of thought in this country that makes it possible for us to express our disagreements in a public forum, and the many methods by which points like these can be expressed. And admittedly, there was probably a little part in each of us, nagging us to confront Rick Warren directly too. However, for the Coalition and GLBT|ATL, we decided in the end to confine our protest action to the outside grounds, to keep our demonstration closely in line with Dr. King's own vision and nonviolent methods.

Tonight we've started to post the news video we've accumulated onto our YouTube channel, and the clips should start showing up a little while after this post. For the moment, here's a sampling of the print news and blog coverage we've found since the demonstration:

...So, you ask, where are we going from here? "That's a good question."

GLBT|ATL is going to be taking a well-needed breather from protest actions for a while, and take this time to refocus on our original purpose: raising awareness. The gay community and our friends and allies have been somewhat dormant for about eight years (must be a coincidence...) and it's time for us to get out there, have fun, and be ourselves again. We have some possible event ideas in the planning stages; though it's a little too early to go into details yet, we'll be putting together some methods of outreach intended to get the LGBT community and the rest of Atlanta talking once again.

We're also looking to connect with you, those who have reawakened from political hibernation to the possibility of a brighter future for all of us. While this blog and the announcement list have been somewhat one-sided, we're going to open up some online discussion forums shortly, and are looking into ways to bring a more social aspect back to social networking. If you're particularly motivated or just have a good idea for an interesting event, please don't hesitate to contact us directly. Our small handful of people may be able to put together small activities today, but we really want to get people together again, to help to put the community back into Atlanta's GLBT community.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We Still Have a Dream: Recap to Come

The demonstration went well and had a decent turnout. There will be an in-depth recap here later tonight tomorrow as we collect news coverage and video clips. We'll also have some responses to some of the criticisms we've received over the protest, as well as a longer term view for GLBT|ATL's future outside of the recent (and yes, we know, repetitive) protests.

Unfortunately, we can't comment directly on the MLK March and Rally. When we left the protest area to switch cars for the march, Adam and Todd found a dead battery in their car, and spent the better part of the afternoon dealing with badly designed mounting brackets and bolts replacing it. We'll try to get an impression of the March from members of the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition for posting here.

(Edit: So it seems the news has been slowly hitting the reactionary media and blog outlets. Rather than try to jump the gun here, we're going to let that work itself out overnight and give a recap tomorrow.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We Still Have A Dream: Last-Minute Updates & Corrections

The following changes have already been corrected in the online version of the original information post.

The traditional Bayard Rustin Breakfast has changed this year to become the Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde breakfast, to honor Audre Lorde's contributions to the civil rights and feminist movements.

There is now shuttle transportation from the protest location to the Rustin/Lorde Breakfast. Floyd Taylor has graciously offered to shuttle people from the protest location to the breakfast, and will pick up passengers starting some time after 10:00 a.m. on Edgewood Ave. near Jackson St. Outwrite Bookstore has offered their parking lot to protest attendees as well, and Floyd has offered to shuttle people to/from Outwrite as well. Call him at 404-543-8238 for information.

As before, if you need more information about the demonstration, you may call us at 888-GLBT-ATL (888-452-8285).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We Still Have A Dream: Everything You Need To Know!

We've rolled all the information you need for Monday morning's protest of Rick Warren at Ebenezer Baptist Church into this post. Print it and have it handy! Send it to your friends! Bring everyone you can!


WHO AND WHY:

Atlanta's Black LGBT Coalition will be protesting Rick Warren's invitation to be keynote speaker at Ebenezer Baptist Church on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. GLBT|ATL is working with the Coalition to coordinate the event, as we believe that Warren, speaking in a position of honor at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Service, is an affront to Dr. King's Dream of unity for all Americans—regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, religion, and all other aspects that make America the wonderfully diverse culture that it is.

Most groups involved in this protest will focus on a message of unity and equality, and some will be referencing Warren's attitudes toward the LGBT community. Other activist groups and organizations may be planning on attending, whether to join in the message of equality, or to protest Warren's presence for a number of other causes. We welcome all nonviolent demonstration attendees.


WHEN AND WHERE:
January 19, 2009, at 9:00 a.m., Auburn Ave. east of Jackson St. in downtown Atlanta


The demonstration will take place on Auburn Ave. just east of Jackson St., which will be closed to vehicles. If attendance is larger than expected, it may spill onto adjacent areas. A complete online map of the area with march route and closed streets is available at glbtatl.org/dream-map. You can get an abbreviated one-sheet printable version in PDF format at glbtatl.org/dream-map.pdf. See "How To Get There" below for more information on how best to get to the protest.

Representatives of both Atlanta's Black LGBT Coalition and GLBT|ATL will be wearing red ribbon armbands. GLBT|ATL's toll-free contact line is 888-GLBT-ATL (888-452-8285), and we will be answering the line during the event. If you have trouble finding your way to the demonstration or need more information, give us a call.


WHAT AND HOW:

Atlanta's Black LGBT Coalition consists of members of several local African-American activist groups. They plan on conducting a peaceful protest, which could involve chanting, singing, and cheering. Coalition and GLBT|ATL representatives will have some free, ready-to-use protest signs on hand, as well as information on suggested chants and songs to be used at some time during the demonstration.

The Annual Commemorative Service is held inside Ebenezer Baptist Church and will begin at 10:00 a.m. We have not been able to confirm the exact time of Warren's speech, but we expect that he will speak close to that time. The Coalition and GLBT|ATL suggest that, at the time Rick Warren begins to speak, demonstration attendees turn their backs to the Jumbotron screen to symbolize our disapproval of his presence.

We do understand that other groups and individuals may wish to convey their message(s) in different ways, such as whistles or air horns, self-made signs, or other forms of expression. We encourage you to join in with the rest of us with chants, songs, and so forth, and we humbly ask everyone to act in a peaceful and respectful manner in the tone of Dr. King's legacy of nonviolent protest.

In particular, protesters are urged not to target Ebenezer Baptist Church. The church did not have a voice in selecting Warren to speak at the service; the decision to invite him was made by The King Center. If you would like to express your message of disapproval to The Center directly, their contact information is at the bottom of this post under "Other Ways To Help".


LAW ENFORCEMENT:

There will be Atlanta law enforcement present at the demonstration, including our lesbian and gay allies at the Atlanta Police Department.

Please respect law enforcement officers and allow them to help the crowd assemble. They are there for your safety and security as much as anyone else's. (On top of that, the Atlanta Police Department's budget is getting cut this year, so some of them may be there as unpaid volunteers!)


HOW TO GET THERE:

The King Holiday is a day of many downtown Atlanta events, so car parking will be very hard to find even without a protest. There are downtown parking lots that will be open, but we cannot guarantee any availability of spaces.

If you plan on coming to the demonstration, we therefore recommend taking MARTA if possible. Parking is available at many MARTA stations (Inman Park Station, just down the street from King Memorial, has a sizable parking lot). See MARTA's rail map for more information on available parking.

MARTA trips cost $1.75 each way, and payment is made via a Breeze Card, which can be bought at the vending machines at each rail station entrance. For those without a plastic Breeze Card, a paper Breeze Ticket can be bought at the machine for $4.00, including one round-trip fare (you won't need to add more). Cash, credit cards, and debit cards are accepted at the machines.
  • Take the MARTA rail system to King Memorial Station. For those starting on the North/South lines, go to Five Points Station, then go up one floor to the "Eastbound" platform. Any eastbound train from Five Points Station will take you to King Memorial (2 stops).

  • At King Memorial, tap your card/ticket at the exit gate sensor so that it can be used to transfer to a bus. Go down to street level and get on either bus 99, or bus 397 (from the street-side pickup location). Tell the bus driver you are going to Ebenezer and need to exit at Edgewood. If you aren't sure if the bus is going the right direction, just ask the driver! Tap your card/ticket on the bus to activate the transfer when you board.

  • Buses and trains will be using Saturday schedules for the King Holiday. Bus 99 is scheduled to pick up at King Memorial at 8:15 a.m. Bus 397 is scheduled to pick up at King Memorial at 8:26 a.m. and 9:11 a.m.

  • If you parked at Inman or need an alternative time, Bus 397 is scheduled to pick up at Inman Park Station (going the other way via Edgewood; ask to exit at Jackson St.) at 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.

  • Walking alternative from train station: If you don't mind walking 1/4 mile in January weather, you can skip the bus. When you exit King Memorial Station, go to the street (Decatur St.) and turn right. The second intersection, right where Decatur St. curves to the left, is Jackson St. Cross the street and follow Jackson St. all the way to the Edgewood Ave. (This route is the blue line on the area map.)

  • Once you get to Edgewood Ave., cross and follow Jackson St. to the protest location at Auburn Ave. (Look for the crowd. You shouldn't be able to miss it!)

OTHER HOLIDAY EVENTS:
  1. Atlanta's Black LGBT Coalition is hosting a Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde breakfast. Bayard Rustin was a gay African-American civil rights activist who was key in organizing the 1963 March on Washington, and an advisor to Dr. King who helped to shape the modern American concept of nonviolence based on Mahatma Gandhi's approach. Audre Lorde was a Carribean-American feminist who helped to reshape the feminist movement to be more inclusive beyond white middle-class women. The breakfast will be held at 139 Ralph McGill Blvd. (the cup icon on the area map) at 10:30 a.m.

    Shuttle transportation: Floyd Taylor has graciously offered to shuttle people from the protest location to the breakfast, and will pick up passengers starting some time after 10:00 a.m. on Edgewood Ave. near Jackson St. Outwrite Bookstore has offered their parking lot to protest attendees as well, and Floyd has offered to shuttle people to/from Outwrite as well. Call him at 404-543-8238 for information.

  2. Members and friends of the LGBT community are invited to participate in the annual MLK March and Rally beginning at 1:00 p.m. The assembly point for LGBT individuals and groups is at Peachtree St. and Ellis St. (in front of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel) at 12:30 p.m.

    Walking from Bayard Rustin breakfast to march: Go west to Courtland St. and turn left; then walk 4 blocks to Ellis St. and turn right; then 2 blocks to Peachtree St.

    Walking from Ebenezer to march: Go west on Auburn Ave. to Peachtree Center Ave. (1/2 mile) and turn right; walk 2 blocks to Ellis St. and turn left; then 1 block to Peachtree St.

    Taking MARTA to march: Exit at Peachtree Center Station, then follow signs to the Ellis St. side of the station. Use the long escalator on the LEFT (southeast exit). You will come out at the corner of Peachtree St. and Ellis St.

DOWNLOADS!

In addition to the area map, we are preparing some downloadable media for you at glbtatl.org/toolbox/dream. There are already some ready-to-print sign graphics available, and we'll be posting additional media shortly—more signs, Rick Warren video clips and background information, and more—so check back frequently!


OTHER WAYS TO HELP:

Can't make it to the demonstration? You can still express your disapproval by writing or calling The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. As always, keep it mature and respectful, because hate-filled messages (while sometimes funny to hear!) usually don't get the point across.

Make sure to tell the Center where you live, what your objection is to their invitation for Rick Warren as keynote speaker, and how that invitation impacts your own feelings about equality, peace, and unity.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We Still Have a Dream: When and Where Info

Keep up to date on protest information!  Subscribe to our announcement e-mail list, or read this blog via RSS.

What:  On January 19, 2009, the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, GLBT|ATL will be protesting The King Center's choice of anti-gay Rick Warren as keynote speaker at the Annual Commemorative Service for Dr. King.

When and Where:  The protest will be at the corner of Auburn Ave and Jackson St, the front entrance of Ebenezer Baptist Church, starting at 9:00 a.m.  Staging and coordination will begin a half hour earlier, 8:30 a.m., one block south at Edgewood Ave and Jackson St.

End Time:  There is no official end time, but the protest will gradually stop through the late morning hours to allow folks to attend the downtown March & Rally at 1:00 p.m.  (GLBT|ATL will be there too, assembling at the corner of Peachtree St and Ellis St.  You're welcome to join us!)

Our Message:  Note that we are NOT protesting Ebenezer Baptist Church.  The church is the host of the Annual Commemorative Service, but they do not have a voice in how the speakers at the Service are chosen.  We are protesting The King Center for inviting Rick Warren to take center stage during a commemoration of tolerance and unity.  We are also protesting Rick Warren's own messages of intolerance and hate.  (If you plan on bringing your own signs, keep points these in mind.  Most importantly, keep it peaceful, in the tone of Dr. King's legacy of nonviolent protest.)

Getting There:  Some streets will be closed, and parking in the area will be scarce to none.  We don't have the official street closing information yet.  Once we receive that information, we'll post again with information on how to get to the protest.

What to Wear:  We will be wearing black shirts as a unifying color, but you are free to dress as you like.

How to Reach Us:  Before the event, please e-mail us at info@glbtatl.org.  On January 19, if you have trouble finding your way to the event or need other assistance or information, you can reach us by telephone at 888-GLBT-ATL (888-452-8285).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We Still Have a Dream: Protest Rick Warren at MLK's Church on MLK Holiday

On the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, the notably anti-gay "minister" Rick Warren will be delivering the keynote address at Ebenezer Baptist Church, during the Annual Commemorative Service held at the church by The King Center.

Warren is known for equating gay relationships with incest, pedophilia, and bestiality; and his ministry does not accept gays as members (and has since removed this and other statements from their websites in at attempt to cover up the truth). Further, his ministry's addiction treatment program, Celebrate Recovery, considers homosexuality to be a form of addiction.

No one with such a divisive view of humanity should be given the honor of speaking at Dr. King's own church, bathing in the light of unity, while desecrating that pulpit with hate thinly disguised as compassion. For Warren to be giving the keynote address at Dr. King's own church, on the day commemorating him, is an affront not only to LGBT citizens, but to all of the civil rights movement.

As Coretta Scott King herself proclaimed in 2000 to people of all races and creeds, "freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right." We cannot allow Rick Warren to denigrate the King Family's legacy by using the Civil Rights Movement as a way to drum up publicity for his campaign of hate and divisiveness. Gay Americans are as deserving of equal treatment as any other citizen, and should be treated as such under the law.

GLBT|ATL, working with Atlanta's Black LGBT Coalition, will be protesting outside Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday, January 19, 2009 starting at 9:00 a.m. (and may be concluding with a fold-in to the annual March starting on Jackson Street at 1:30 p.m.; this is not confirmed yet).

The details are still being coordinated, but we will be posting here again soon with an area map, including location of the protest, street closings, MARTA instructions, and other important information for those of you planning to attend. Please subscribe to our announcement list to have the latest information e-mailed to you as it happens, including all posts to this blog.

If you wish to help out, please contact GLBT|ATL directly at info@glbtatl.org. Additionally, Atlanta's Black LGBT Coalition can be reached at atlblacklgbtcoalition@gmail.com (no webpage as of this writing; we'll link to it as soon as one is available).