Watch my Southerners On New Ground comrade Bishop Donagrant McCluney preachin’ the good word at HKonJ in North Carolina demanding justice for all peoples and families in the good ol’ South. Send SONG some Valentine’s Day love today by becoming a sustaining member and part of our family!This Valentine’s Day Celebrate A Voice That Was a Long Time Coming…
Dear SONG Family,
He was dressed like many of the other speakers who have historically stood at the largest Movement Mobilization that happens annually in North Carolina. He wore a long, black leather coat and a cleric collar. He is African-American with an accent that suggests his rural roots: Shelby, North Carolina. He preached in a style that suggests his spiritual home: the Pentecostal Church. The crowd was cold, and waning—though at its peak it was 15,000 strong. They perked up when he sang in a sweet,
understated voice: “We do it for our ancestors, all of us, we do it
for the ones to come, all of us,” and then he said things like:
“…every North Carolinian is worthy of freedom and justice whether they be rich or poor, gay or straight, people of faith or not of faith, undocumented or US Citizen” and “we see the Right wing try to use our lives, our very bodies, as the wedge issue to draw their people out to vote” and “WE are not the ENEMY, we need good schools, healthcare and decent jobs, not one more form of discrimination.”
He was the first, Out LGBTQIA person of Color to EVER cross that stage and speak. His name is Bishop Donagrant McCluney, and he is SONG’s North Carolina Field Organizer.
I had the humbling gift of being next to him at the podium, and as I looked to the crowd I saw tears in the eyes of many SONG members. I
saw the women of Color who helped write that speech, who
organize with SONG’s local partner group, All of US NC. I saw the
rainbow flags with phrases like ‘jobs’ and ‘justice for all’ written
across them in the hands of youth who had just heard of SONG, but
believed in that flag with that message. I witnessed the leadership of
the NAACP and many other coalition members stand their ground in
their solidarity with us—a task which has not been always easy in a
region spilling over with homophobia and other oppression.
And finally I saw, in that crowd of thousands, people from all over the state, people of Color and rural people especially, go from polite applause and murmurs, to full out cheering.
I believe I watched them change their minds, not just about the homophobia they have learned, but about what dominating forces have told them about all people different from them. When Bishop McCluney finally said: “We seek to end hatred that stems from fear of our human brothers and sisters”, I saw elderly ladies in the front rows nod their heads solemnly. (For the full speech, click here.)
This is the gift of SONG. We are the gift of SONG, everyone in that
moment, and everyone who made it happen that I did not say. Where
historic moments can come to pass, even in the harshest conditions and the reddest states, if we stay aligned with justice. Where we can heal what should never be broken: the unity of LGBTQIA people to the rest of our social justice family.
It takes resources to build this morale, to feed our folks, to put gas in Bishop McCluney’s car so he can build our power base all over the state, and his comrades can build in their states, all over the South.
On Valentine’s Day, let’s remember that our love for each other as LGBTQIA individuals, one-to-one, can transform us, but while our wider family suffers, we can never be whole.
Please show your commitment to this vision and to LOVE on Valentine’s Day by becoming a monthly donor to SONG today. $5 or $50 a month—it all sustains us. For the cost of dinner out or a movie, we can make more of these historic moments.
In the name of Justice for All,
SONG is made up of the most amazingly inspiring and motivated group of people I have ever been privileged to meet. I am so grateful for the time I have spent so far at events with this organization, and for the extremely hard work that they all put in. This speech is one example of the kind of work they are doing for US queer people, poor people, people of color. They nourish, educate, believe in, listen to, and sacrifice for our communities, daily. I know I have a hard time knowing what groups are worth giving money to, but if you know me and the kinds of things I value and cherish, then you can believe that this is worth it, if you’re able and would like to give.