The One Nation Working Together rally planned for Washington on October 2, with its focus on “jobs, justice, and education,” will — not surprisingly — voice traditional progressive demands like a living wage and an end to racial profiling, but the massive gathering of leading civil rights and labor organizations breaks new ground in its embrace of full equality for the LGBT community.
That was the message that Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, brought to New York City on September 22, in the first visit by a leader of the venerable civil rights organization to Manhattan’s LGBT Community Center.
A Rhodes Scholar who formerly worked at Amnesty International on issues of prison rape, the criminal justice system’s treatment of juvenile offenders, and racial profiling, Jealous earned a warm response from a crowd of more than 100 with a discussion about the possibilities for progressive change through coalition politics; his remarks showed him well versed in LGBT issues. Mentioning having in his family both HIV and a gender-nonconforming brother who’s been beaten up, Jealous talked about the NAACP’s advocacy for black gay student victims of homophobic violence at the hands of African-American attackers in a Coffee County, Georgia college; the school responded by kicking those assaulted out of their dorm.
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