by Selisse Berry, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates | As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, we celebrate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, and we celebrate the continuation of realizing that dream.
With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) nearing the Senate floor, this anniversary of advocacy for equality is especially poignant. 50 years ago civil rights leader and march organizer Bayard Rustin, while less-than-closeted, did not live in a world where he could bring his whole and authentic self to a restaurant or to church—let alone to the workplace.
The great progress made around civil rights for people of color, for women, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities is undeniable. However, there is still so much more to be done because it is also undeniable that today, in many places around the United States and around the world, Rustin would still be unable to bring his authentic self into the workplace. Half of a decade after the original March on Washington, inequality, economic subordination, racism and discrimination are still very much a reality for millions of our sisters and brothers. So while we celebrate and commemorate the March and the immense progress of the civil rights movement—as well as the great work of today’s leaders in equality, we acknowledge the ongoing need to create inclusive workplaces in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
In 1963, Bayard Rustin suggested that the March on Washington was not a promise—but a new beginning. Today we recognize the truth of these words as well as their hope. Policy like ENDA is not a promise, but it is a start and each day presents a new beginning in the workplace. Each day offers a new opportunity to change the world one mind and one heart at a time, whether we do it by marching to the Lincoln Memorial or by having a significant conversation over the water cooler at the office.
This anniversary is about the basic rights toward which we are all still working. The lack of equality for any group affects every group, and our movement is a broad movement. It is a movement with many pieces, and we must remember that equality will only be a complete picture when all those pieces come together.
Please join Out & Equal on Wednesday, August 28th, to Let Freedom Ring. We will meet at Noon at Sutter & Market in San Francisco to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. For more information, email email@example.com.