HRC Blog

Civil Rights Participant Responds to Gov. Christie

TRev. Caldwellhe following guest post comes from the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell. Rev. Caldwell is a retired Methodist Minister, a Board Member of Garden State Equality, and one of the founders of Black Methodists for Church Renewal:

My friend and colleague, Dr. Traci West of Drew University, has written a powerful response to the "referendum" comments of Governor Christie. I, as one who with thousands of others "ran the risk of dying in the streets in the South" to achieve civil rights for blacks, feel compelled to share my response.

I was a participant in "Mississippi Freedom Summer" when two white and one black young civil rights volunteers were killed. I was in Selma on that Tuesday following "Bloody Sunday" when Rev. James Reeb, the white Unitarian minister, was beaten and then died as a result of that beating. I spoke at his Memorial Service in Boston at Arlington Street Unitarian Church. Governor Christie demeans and devalues the lives of those persons, white and black, who were killed because they dared to stand up on behalf of the rights of black Americans to be treated as fully human and deserving of all of the civil rights others had.

I am an advocate/ally of the rights of lesbians and gays, including their right to marriage equality, because as Martin Luther King said so eloquently, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I am disappointed that Governor Christie, a Republican whose party claims such allegiance to Constitution-granted values, would give the impression that the rights of lesbians and gays, and blacks, are invalid until approved by a referendum vote. I want to believe that my Governor has not fully understood the negative implications of his views on the civil rights of blacks and gay and lesbian persons. He and I are in disagreement on many matters, but I thought he valued the full human rights of all persons. Governor Christie, please clarify what you meant with your comments about "a referendum on civil rights". Do you doubt that those rights are not determined by votes in an election?

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell
Asbury Parrk, NJ

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