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Coalition marches through South Side

by Sam Worley

2009-01-21 Windy City Times - LINK

GLN Permalink posted January 21, 2009

Marchers walked through Chicago's Chatham neighborhood.

Marchers walked through Chicago's Chatham neighborhood.

Marchers walked through Chicago's Chatham neighborhood. Photos by Sam Worley

On the holiday celebrating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Coalition for Justice and Respect ( CJR ) sponsored a march Jan. 19 along 79th Street in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood. In a rally preceding the March for Justice and Respect, now in its third year, CJR representative Mark Loveless highlighted ongoing problems faced by Black LGBT people in the realms of healthcare, employment, social services and the criminal-justice system.

He noted in particular the three-year-old shooting deaths of two Black gay men at 79th Street and Woodlawn Avenue—a development Loveless said is a hate crime that remains unsolved.

Loveless said that the passage of Proposition 8, the recent California state initiative banning same-sex marriage, served as a reminder of the importance of grassroots organizing by the LGBT community. Despite the historic election of President Barack Obama, Loveless said, “The effort of social justice is not over with the election of any official.”

Bob Schwartz, an activist with the Gay Liberation Network, echoed Loveless' remarks. “This justice will not be elected, in Washington or elsewhere,” Schwartz told the assembled crowd of about 20 people. “ [ Obama's ] election would not have been possible but for the movement that was led by [ Martin Luther ] King.” Schwartz pointed to the recent police killing of a young Black man in Oakland, as well as the ongoing struggles of Hurricane Katrina survivors, as examples of work still needed in order to reach the goals of social justice and racial equality.

After the rally, the marchers walked east along the sidewalk of 79th Street, carrying signs that read “Proud to be black and gay,” “We will not back dow,” and “Honor my family.” Loveless and others led chants of “Equality for all!” as the group huddled close in the cold January morning air.


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