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".
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.