They are all around us, the heroes and heroines of the “GOOD FIGHT”. They have been there from the beginning, they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that gave “We the People” our voice. They championed the values of Liberty, Freedom and Equality. They have come from all walks of life and from “BOTH” Political Parties. Champions of Democracy, guardians of the poor, the disenfranchised and the minority. They march in every movement, loyal, selfless, protecting and noble risk-takers they defend the rights of others as the other’s cause becomes their own. They are not only tolerant, but embrace the cultures of the world. Secure, righteous and always on the right side of history…history rewards them with success and legacy. Who are they? They are the progressive liberal White Males and Females of history and these United States.
They defended the defenseless Colonist against taxation without representation; championed the pursuit of Happiness, Liberty and Freedom that we all cherish today. Our Founding Father’s set the tone for the next 237 years. These White Males defined the “GOOD FIGHT” risking life and position for the sake of a new Nation and a new way of life. They wrote the mission statement that defines America.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”
Amazing words from amazing men. The “Good Fight” is continuous, never ending, ad infinitum, many have sacrificed to move this Country forward. From the American Revolution to the striking down of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) progressive White Males and Females have been the key to moving us closer to a more perfect Union. I am a Latino, I understand the arithmetic. Without these selfless White champions of “MY” freedoms, I would simply be invisible.
White men and Women in the abolitionist movement tirelessly campaigned for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. By the early 1830s, Theodore D. Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, Arthur and Lewis Tappan, and Elizur Wright, Jr., had taken up the cause of “immediate emancipation.” Fighting the times, there was no question in their mind, the morality of their cause. White Quaker women and female slaves, together took a strong moral stand against slavery. Some of these White women educated Blacks, both free and enslaved, and some of them joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and founded their own biracial organization, the Philadelphia Women’s Anti-Slavery Society. Hand in hand Black and White working together for an end to a grave injustice forward to a more perfect Union.
The Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott, was instrumental in organizing what would be the first gathering to fight for Women’s rights in the United States at Seneca Falls. Lucretia Mott and about 100 people attended the convention; two-thirds were women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions,” that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” Among the 13 resolutions set forth in Stanton’s “Declaration” was the goal of achieving the “sacred right of franchise.” With a progressive eye toward equality Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 100 Americans with “liberal” intention did begin the arduous journey toward Women’s Suffrage and the fight for civil rights.
Will D. Campbell, a towering figure of the U.S. civil rights movement who was the only white person present at the meeting that led to the creation of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A minister, Campbell was a larger than life figure who broke with his own Baptist Church to champion civil rights beginning in the 1950s. His colorful speeches and writings angered many white Southerners. But his commitment to the “Good Fight” was unassailable and undeterred. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Said of Campbell “He was a gift to America who never received the recognition he truly deserved. He will be deeply missed.” Campbell was a key player in most of the important events of the civil rights movement:
- He was one of the four White Americans who escorted the black students who integrated the Little Rock, Ark., public schools in 1957.
- He was the only White minister among about 60 pastors invited to attend the meeting in Atlanta that same year where King laid the foundations for the SCLC.
- He joined the Freedom Riders who worked to integrate buses in Alabama in 1961.
- He walked with Martin Luther King on the “March on Birmingham” in 1963.
- He was also with King for the “March on Selma”, Ala., in 1965.
Michael Schwerner was one of the White CORE field workers killed in Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to the civil-rights work he coordinated, which included promoting registration to vote among Mississippi African Americans. Andy Goodman was only 20 when he died on Rock Cut Road on June 21, 1964, near the end of his first full day in Mississippi. Both of these men were killed alongside a Black associate, James Cheney, working on the Mississippi Summer Project. Taking on the cause and paying the ultimate sacrifice to help bring voting/civil rights to the Black Citizens of Mississippi.
William Lewis Moore, a White postman from Baltimore, was shot and killed during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to intolerance.
Rev. Bruce Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.
Rev. James Reeb, a White Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.
Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a White housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a White Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.
We must never forget the sacrifices made by these brave and heroic White progressives in the name of the “Good Fight” all men are created equal.
Many new activists consider the Stonewall uprising the birth of the gay liberation movement and it sparked the formation of many gay’s rights groups. The gay rights movement is complex, emotional and on-going as are the fights for equality among Women and African Americans.
The Stonewall is a bar in Manhattan’s West Village that has become a true landmark in gay history. Forty years ago, the New York gay community rose up there in a riot that sparked the modern gay rights movement. In the 1960’s gay bars were regularly raided by the police. But on June 27, 1969, the patrons of The Stonewall Inn had had enough. A crowd 2000 strong chanted “Gay Power” and a new civil rights struggle was born.
The gay rights movement has faced challenges on many fronts, but none as tragic, demoralizing or devastating to the movement as the AIDS crisis.
As an intern in New York City during the early 1980s, Alan Greenberg, MD, MPH walked into the exploding HIV epidemic. Since then, he has devoted his career to HIV/AIDS prevention, research, and treatment. As a recognized leader in this field, Greenberg’s early studies and research have had an enormous impact in preventing HIV transmission and reducing the morbidity and mortality rates of HIV-infected adults.
C. Everett Koop, the Ronald Reagan-appointed surgeon general who would go on to become a hero to AIDS activists. Koop, who was both a pediatric surgeon and evangelical Christian, part of his legacy the one that I trust will last the longest is his efforts to draw attention to the then-emerging AIDS epidemic. Koop said he realized later that the Reagan administration had been slow to address the disease because the election had brought to power people who were antithetical to gay people, then thought to be its only victims. As the epidemic worsened, reaching drug addicts infected with contaminated needles and hemophiliacs who had received a contaminated blood-clotting factor, Reagan, in 1986, asked Dr. Koop to prepare a special report. Dr. Koop proceeded cautiously, knowing the report would be unpopular with many in the administration, with conservatives in Congress and with church groups opposed to homosexuality. He wrote 17 drafts. In that 1986 report Koop didn’t mince words, promoting the use of condoms for safe sex and calling for sex education to begin in school as early as third grade. Koops statement, “Americans, especially young people, must not die because they were deprived of explicit information about how HIV was transmitted.” This statement especially noteworthy, because at the time the Reagan Administration would rarely even utter the word AIDS. C. Everett Koop, was a portrait in courage fighting the “Good Fight” the progressive fight from the right.
One of the country’s most visible and admired physicians and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., has led the fight against AIDS and, in the process, won the trust and respect of his one-time opponents. Dr. Fauci accepted criticism, and he accepted that someone must absorb the anger and terror that AIDS had spawned. “I was on a C-SPAN program a couple of months ago with Tony, and I attacked him for the entire hour,” said Larry Kramer one of the earliest ACT UP AIDS activists. “He called me up afterwards and said he thought the program went very well. I said, ‘How can you say that? I did nothing but yell at you.’ He said, ‘You don’t realize that you can say things I can’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t agree with you.’” Fauci’s calm and less than hysterical thoughtful steering of HIV policy, was instrumental in moving gay rights and health privacy forward.
The LGBT Movements newest and most recent Straight White progressive Heroes, pushing for marriage equality, have been California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies.
California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom knew back in 2004 that marrying same-sex couples as Mayor of San Francisco, would lead to litigation, but he said, “Discrimination and inequality is as much about people as it is the law…” After the Court decision on Prop. 8, Newsom said he “took a moment to savor this final step in the long march towards justice. It is truly an emotionally staggering day.” This Straight White male, feeling pride and joy for a cause in which he has no horse in the race. That is the progressive heart.
Ted Olson a Republican and David Boies a Democrat, one time Courtroom adversaries in Bush v. Gore, teamed up to forward civil rights. Again with no horse in the race, these two men from opposite political spectrums took a progressive stand for marriage equality.
How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the “traditional” definition of marriage and press for an “activist” interpretation of the Constitution to create another “new” constitutional right? Ted Olson explains it this way, “My answer to this seeming conundrum rests on a lifetime of exposure to persons of different backgrounds, histories, viewpoints, and intrinsic characteristics, and on my rejection of what I see as superficially appealing but ultimately false perceptions about our Constitution and its protection of equality and fundamental rights. Olson goes on to say, “Americans who believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and equal dignity before the law cannot sit by while this wrong continues. This is not a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American one, and it is time that we, as Americans, embraced it.” Ted Olson, proves my point, even a conservative can be progressive.
David Boies said, “”Our collective journey tells of a crucial and historical civil rights movement that brings us closer to the ideals on which our country was founded,” Surprisingly, Boies has not been a lifelong liberal. In the 1960’s he was the President of the Young Republicans, but says he realized he “was on the wrong side” of the battle for civil rights. Later becoming a Democrat, he honed his skills on civil-rights litigation and defending civil-rights. Boies says on marriage equality “I think this is the most important civil-rights issue in the country now,”.
As the House of Representative embarks on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (CIR), one can only hope that Conservative Republicans with progressive ideas and honorable ethics will fairly and justly follow the examples of those White Americans that have sacrificed everything to move this Great Nations ideals forward, to expand rights, not exclude humanity from enjoying the fruits of Liberty. In the Senate Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), John McCain (R-Arizona), Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Michael Bennett (D-Colorado) have personally made the decision to put their reputations on the line for the greater good of this Country, following in the footstep of “GREAT” men that have made their mark in history. Some may say that these men are not being selfless, but self-serving. I say their decision has risk, their calculation not sure, but their efforts will not be forgotten and do not go unappreciated.
No one will build monuments, to bigotry, greed, intolerance. Great men are honored for the “GOOD” they do, the great societies they create and nurture. The Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, JFK Eternal Flame, Mount Rushmore and the Jefferson Memorial honor men of honor and integrity.
History has not been kind to Benedict Arnold, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, Ayne Rand, Tom Metzger or Timothy McVeigh. I dare say that no Statues or Monument will be erected on the Washington Mall for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Laura Ingraham, Tom Tancredo, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Steve King, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, John Cornyn or Jim DeMint. What “Good” have they done? What great deed can be attributed to them?
There is a great good to advance, men of honor are all around us. I want to dedicate this piece to my best friend of 30 years Scott Waldon, a progressive White Male, tolerant, secure, engaged and supportive. He is a good man. I heard that the GOP feels that “the bottom has not been reached on White resentment, and that will be their new strategy for the elections of 2014 and 2016. How cynical it that? How disrespectful to White America is it to assume the worst of them? I want to thank EVERY progressive White Male and Female in America, Democrat, Independent and Republican alike, for bravely standing up for what it right; for turning away from actions and thought that would divide us; for taking on the causes of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native American, LGBT Americans and Women’s Rights; for fighting the good fight; for standing up and not being silent to the destructive voices of intolerance, greed and exclusion; and for moving this Country “FORWARD” in to the 21st Century and leaving no one behind. You are the spirit of America…I am a Latino American, and I thank you.