HRC Blog

Watch: President Obama on LGBT Rights and the Larger Civil Rights Movement

Yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the same steps where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and echoed Dr. King’s words that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As when he offered his inaugural remarks at the opposite end of the National Mall in January, President Obama specifically linked the struggle for LGBT equality to the fabric of the wider civil rights movement.

He spoke on the sacrifices made by those early civil rights fighters and the impact their bravery has made for so many others:

“Because they marched, America became more free and more fair, not just for African-Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.”


The President also said that then and now, the March serves as a catalyst to “reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling,” the “coalition of consciousness” that brings us together to fight for equality for all.

"And I believe that spirit is there, that true force inside each of us… It's there when the native born recogniz[es] that striving spirit of a new immigrant, when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who were discriminated against and understands it as their own. That's where courage comes from, when we turn not from each other or on each other but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone."


Watch the remarks at the 8 and 22-minute marks below.

HRC was proud to participate in a number of events honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. HRC’s Donna Payne and MacArthur Flournoy were featured speakers at Saturday’s commemorative event on the National Mall.

Last night HRC was proud to host a panel discussion on the life and legacy of Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights leader who was a key organizer of the 1963 March. Watch a recording of last night’s panel here.

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