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|Immigration activist named LGBT honorary grand marshal, speaker at Atlanta MLK March|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|January 10, 2012 01:32|
Paulina Helm-Hernandez, co-director of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), is the 2012 honorary grand marshal and speaker for the Martin Luther King rally following the annual MLK March on Monday, Jan. 16.
The selection of Helm-Hernandez was announced by the Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast planning group. The breakfast, founded in 2002 by LGBT activists Craig Washington and Darlene Hudson, takes place this year at St. Mark United Methodist Church at 10 a.m.; the march begins at 1:30 p.m. with the rally following the march.
Helm-Hernandez was chosen because of her "commitment to community building with marginalized populations. She has a background in farm worker and immigrant/refugee rights organizing, cultural work, youth organizing, anti-violence work and liberation work that centers people most affected by violence, poverty, war and racism," the planning committee said in a statement.
Helm-Hernandez was also named a 2011 Atlanta Pride grand marshal.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Rustin's birthday on March 17 . Rustin, King's openly gay friend and colleague in the civil rights movement, organized the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech.
The Rustin/Lorde breakfast is part of numerous activities being organized by the Bayard Rustin Centennial project of the National Black Justice Coalition. The breakfast will include speakers as well as roundtable discussions on such issues as HIV stigma and gender identity bias.
“Throughout 2012, the Bayard Rustin Centennial will celebrate Rustin’s monumental contributions to the U.S. civil rights movement and international social justice efforts," said Mandy Carter, national coordinator for the centennial project. Rustin, who was openly gay, introduced King to the teachings of Gandhi and organized the famous 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Screenings of “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin” and “The Edge of Each Others Battles: The Vision of Audre Lorde” will be held at the Phillip Rush Center on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.
Bernice King to serve as a grand marshal
Grand marshals of the march include Martin Luther King III, Rev. Bernice King, Georgia's Congressional congregation, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council. Bernice King has long been known for her anti-gay beliefs. When she was an elder with Eddie Long's homophobic New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, she led a 2004 march through Atlanta's streets protesting, among other things, gay marriage.
On Monday, The King Center, founded by LGBT activist Coretta Scott King, named Bernice King as its CEO.
Last year, openly gay Rabbi Josh Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim spoke at the televised Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He said in an interview that he hugged Bernice King at the service and that while he was honored to be part of the service he also acknowledged it was difficult because he was surrounded by an undertone of anti-gay sentiment.
Bernice King left New Birth after Long chose to settle a lawsuit with men who accused him of using his authority to coerce them into sexual relationships.
Honorary marshals are Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Mrs. Evelyn G. Lowery and Ambassador Andrew Young.
Last year's LGBT honorary grand marshals and speakers were AID Atlanta Executive Director Tracy Elliott and Georgia Safe Schools Coalition co-founder Anneliese Singh.
Community sponsors for the breakfast and screenings: AID Atlanta, Atlanta Pride, Aniz, Bridge Catering, Change Atlanta, EM Designs, Georgia Equality, Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Juxtaposed Transformation Center, Phillip Rush Center, Positive Impact, Radial Café, St. Mark United Methodist Church, State of Black Gay America Inc. and ZAMI NOBLA.
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