During the rallies that I attended for LGBT Rights I felt a connection to those that rallied for Civil Rights back in the 1950s and 1960s. Their efforts in the face of brutal confrontation paved the way so that we can live up to one of our ideas expressed in our Constitution, specifically in the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I recognize that people made sacrifices in order for us to express our feelings towards a policy without fear of violence. Some gave their lives in an effort to make sure that our country lives up to one of its founding ideas that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
The movement was not just Dr. King alone. Many people contributed to the cause in their own way by writing letters, attending meetings, holding signs, and organizing people. Specifically, the efforts made by Bayard Rustin are an example of people doing the behind the scenes work as part of something bigger.
The progress achieved for the black community in terms of Civil Rights also inspired other movements to take place. We have seen Cesar Chavez lead a movement for Latino Farmers. Harvey Milk and Brenda Howard took up the mantle of LGBT Rights. Gloria Steinem was one of the leading voices in the efforts for women’s rights. Many other people have followed in their footsteps in countless other movements of ensuring that our country lives up to the ideas that we were founded on.
The ability to stand up for your rights freely without retaliation is what makes Martin Luther King Day an American Holiday.