Tag Archives: movement

1000s to join ‘Resistance Recess’ at townhalls nationwide

More than 200 actions are planned nationwide at congressional townhalls and at “constituent townhalls” where elected officials won’t hold meetings, according to a statement from the Resistance Recess coalition.

As Congress takes its first recess of the new session, thousands of constituents nationwide will join the “Resistance Recess” — a nationwide week of action with more than 200 events taking place at elected officials’ town halls and public appearances, or at self-organized “constituent town halls” in districts where congressional leaders are refusing to hold face-to-face meetings.

Nationwide, constituents are demanding answers from members of Congress to questions around Donald Trump’s agenda — from whether they’ll pledge to protect and improve health care to how they will challenge executive actions by Trump .

They also will be demanding Democrats lead a resistance to Trump’s agenda — fighting for an immediate, independent investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, rejecting his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, working to counter his attacks on immigrants and refugees and blocking an agenda that “would bankrupt our nation and divide our communities for the benefit of billionaires and corporations.”

The actions will be taking place through Feb. 26.

The Resistance Recess is a grassroots movement being supporting by MoveOn.org Civic Action and other partners.

Resist and Defend: Links and other resources for activists

Guides

> Indivisible Guide for effectively lobbying lawmakers — at the congressional level and the local level.

News

> Democracy Now independent global news.

National groups

> American Civil Liberties Union.

> Planned Parenthood national.

> Council on American Islamic Relations.

> Indivisible Front Range Resistance.

> Human Rights Campaign.

> End Citizens United, fighting for reform.

> American Federation of Teachers.

> NextGen Climate.

> MoveOn.org.

> StudentDebtCrisis.org.

> Win Without War.

> Media Matters for America.

> NAACP.

> United We Dream.

> AFL-CIO.

> Organic Consumers Association.

> 350.org.

> Sierra Club.

> National Audubon Society.

Wisconsin

> ACLU of Wisconsin.

> Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

> Voces de la Frontera.

> Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

> Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

> Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

Campaigns, movement work

> State Sen. Chris Larson’s ResistHateWi.com petition.

> Women’s March on Washington.

> Movement to Oppose Trump Mailing List.

> United State of Women.

Blogs

> Robert Reich blog posts.

Other resources

> Countable, your government made simple.

Have a recommendation for this page? Please email lmneff@wisconsingazette.com with the details.

AFT: Labor unions and shared prosperity

On the occasion of Labor Day, a message from American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten on the importance of the labor movement to American workers and communities:

Today is Labor Day—and there’s a good reason it’s a national holiday. By organizing together and fighting collectively, workers have been able to better their lives and the lives of their families. So rather than think about Labor Day as the last gasp of summer or bemoan the loss of union clout, let’s redouble our efforts to re-create an enduring middle class.

Income and wealth inequality rivals levels last seen in the Gilded Age. The American dream has slipped away from those who are working hard to make it. And rather than confronting these realities, many — particularly on the right — turned to union bashing and restricting labor rights that rendered people powerless to address inequities. The result: stagnating wages and stifled hopes for men and women who worked hard and played by the rules.

But we continue to fight — to fight for higher wages, fair contracts, professional development, safety measures, and resources for our members and their students, their patients and the others they serve.

America’s educators, healthcare professionals and public service workers know this firsthand. After the Great Recession, some on the right seized the political moment to vilify teachers and assault the labor movement that gives them a voice. In the aftermath, a study by a University of Utah economist showed that, in the four states that successfully weakened teachers’ right to bargain together, public school teachers’ wages fell by nearly one-tenth. That’s a statistic we as educators and public servants simply cannot afford.

Conversely, robust unions help everyone — not just the people who form them—and a growing body of research demonstrates that. There’s a multiplier effect. Through unions, we lift up our communities, strengthen the economy and deepen our democracy. If unions were as strong today as in 1979, according to a timely new study by the Economic Policy Institute, nonunion men with a high school diploma would earn an average of $3,016 more a year. And the Center for American Progress has found that kids who live in communities where unions are strong have a better chance to get ahead.

Workers in unions earn, on average, 27 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. The National Women’s Law Center has found that unions close the pay gap for women, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that black workers see outsized gains from union representation. It’s a powerful reminder of the link between organized labor and economic success.

You see the union advantage in our advocacy as well. When the recession devastated the construction sector and put millions of Americans out of work, the American labor movement came together with the goal of raising $10 billion to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Five years later, our pension funds have reallocated $16 billion for infrastructure investments, including rehabilitating New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, turning it into a travel hub befitting a great modern city and creating good American jobs in the process.

In hospitals and patient care settings across the country, our members have been leading the fight against workplace violence.

And in the classroom, unions are critical partners in giving kids the chance to succeed. A 2016 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that where teachers unions are strong, districts have a better track record of building the quality of our teaching force — keeping stronger teachers and dismissing those who are not making the grade. Through unions, teachers fight for the tools, time and trust that educators need to tailor instruction to the needs of our children, to help them reach for and achieve their dreams.

Here at the AFT, we take that work seriously—for example, curating Share My Lesson, a free digital collection of lesson plans and resources for educators used by nearly a million people. In fact, Share My Lesson has more than 750 lessons about Labor Day!

Despite years of right-wing attacks on unions, a 2015 survey found that a majority of Americans would join a union if they had the choice. They know what a union offers: a voice in their workplace, the opportunity to negotiate wages and benefits and the ability to retire with dignity and security.

Indeed, despite all the attacks waged against us, the AFT—which celebrated our 100th anniversary at our national convention this summer—has grown over the past several years, with well over 1.6 million K-12 and higher education educators and staff, state and local employees, and nurses and other healthcare professionals as members. And now we are seeing more vulnerable workers — such as adjunct faculty and graduate students, teachers at charter schools and early childhood educators—seeking to join our ranks. In the private sector, tens of thousands of low-income workers have joined the Fight for 15 and the union movement because they know a union will help them get long-denied wage increases.

We have taken on the fight for adjuncts and early childhood educators from Pennsylvania to California — many of whom work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. These are the people who teach our youngest children, and they’re the ones who educate our college students; they deserve to live above the poverty line while doing this critical work.

Graduate students at Cornell University are celebrating the recent National Labor Relations Board decision that reinstates the right of graduate workers at private universities to organize. They are building momentum and talking to hundreds of fellow grad students about the power of collective bargaining, and are excited about the prospect of winning union recognition and joining more than 25,000 AFT graduate employees at public institutions who already enjoy the benefits of a contract.

The aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II led our country to understand we were all in it together. We established the GI Bill and other educational access and equity programs; management and labor respected each other, with unions being the voice of labor; and the middle class thrived.

Now, as income inequality is again at its height, let’s remember on this Labor Day what a strong labor movement has done—and can do again—to help workers, our communities, the economy and our democracy grow and thrive.

Official action: Obama designates Stonewall as a national monument

The White House announced that today President Barack Obama is designating the Stonewall Inn and its surroundings as a national monument.

The White House notice stated, “Today, President Obama will designate a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the broad movement for LGBT equality. The new Stonewall National Monument will protect the area where, on June 28, 1969, a community’s uprising in response to a police raid sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement in the United States.

“The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans, just days before the one year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states.”

The announcement also arrived just before several of the largest LGBT Pride celebrations take place, including in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, and also just before the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots.

“The Stonewall National Monument will pay tribute to the brave individuals who stood up to oppression and helped ignite a fire in a movement to end unfair and unjust discrimination against LGBTQ people,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The riots at the Stonewall Inn are a pivotal part of U.S. history and shaped the modern LGBT civil rights movement.

Griffin said, ” In the early days of our movement, the brave individuals who fought back at Stonewall and at other historic moments, helped inspire countless others. It is our hope that by honoring these pioneers, this new national monument will be a source of inspiration to a new generation of Americans across the country standing up for equality and uniting to show the world that love conquers hate. We are incredibly grateful for President Obama’s leadership in recognizing the LGBTQ community’s contributions to our nation’s march towards liberty and justice for all.”

The new monument will permanently protect Christopher Park, a historic community park at the intersection of Christopher Street, West 4th Street and Grove Street directly across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The monument’s boundary encompasses approximately 7.7 acres of land, including Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “We tell the story of who we are through our national treasures and the president’s decision represents a new definition of inclusivity for our national park system. Stonewall’s tiny urban park has a powerful cultural history — and using the Antiquities Act to declare it a monument helps us preserve for future generations the lesser-told story of the LGBTQ community’s struggle for equality.”

On the Web

The White House released this video about the announcement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywtvJyXDWkk. The video will stream in Times Square over the weekend.

The bar where it all started is to become a National Monument

The Stonewall Inn is slated to become the first national monument dedicated to gay rights.

The monument would comprise the inn and land adjacent to the tavern, the site of a 1969 uprising that is viewed as the symbolic start of the modern-day gay rights movement.

“Stonewall was the spark that ignited the movement for LGBT civil rights, a spark which continues to burn around the world today,” said U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat. “We must ensure that the events of Stonewall, the persecution of the LGBT community, and the brave individuals who fought — and continue to fight — to overcome it are given the place they deserve in our nation’s history.”

The bar in the Stonewall building closed in 1969, just months after patrons resisted the police raid. The space was occupied by other businesses, including a bagel shop and a Chinese restaurant, before it reopened as a bar in the 1990s. In Stonewall’s current incarnation, under new owners since 2006, half the original space occupied by the bar is now a nail salon.

Co-owner Stacy Lentz said she and her partners bought the bar “to preserve history and make sure it wasn’t made into a Starbucks.” She said she is thrilled by the national monument discussions.

“This solidifies everything we have worked for to keep the legacy alive for generations to come,” Lentz said.

Nadler, who has been pressing for a national monument at Stonewall for years, said the spot is worth recognizing because it would “tell the story of the United States,” as do park sites in Seneca Falls, New York, dedicated to the women’s rights movement, and Selma, Alabama, named for the civil rights movement.

U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand added, “The Stonewall Inn is an icon in American history and a national monument designation at this site would help tell the story of the equal rights movement in America for generations to come. Every recent victory for the community, from the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ to the Supreme Court decision about the right to marry, is a result of the movement that began at Stonewall more than four decades ago.”

The Stonewall Inn already is already a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also, it was designated a New York City landmark last year, the first time a site had received the designation because of its significance to LGBT history.

Originally built as stables in the 1840s, adjoining buildings at 51 Christopher Street still have the brick-and-stucco facade that greeted bar-goers June 28, 1969, the night of the protests.

What began as a police raid escalated into days of street demonstrations that triggered an activist movement and prompted gay New Yorkers to stop hiding their identities and speak out publicly.

“The Stonewall Rebellion is a rarity — a tipping point in history where we know, with absolute clarity, that everything changed,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

Patrons at the Stonewall are ecstatic the area will be recognized as a national monument.

Jonathan Early called the Stonewall “the heart of the LGBT movement.”

And as he passed by the bar earlier this spring, Jesse Furman said, “It really says something. It is a place of so much happiness and acceptance. Think about it. This is America’s landmark for the gay community.”

To the register

The National Park Service in May announced that it would add two LGBT sites to the National Register of Historic Places:

• The Edificio Comunidad de Orgullo Gay de Puerto Rico in San Juan, which served as the meeting hall for the first LGBT organization in Puerto Rico.

• The Furies Collective house in Washington, D.C., which was home to a lesbian feminist collective in the early 1970s.

“The road to civil rights is a long one and adding these important places to the National Register will help recognize the LGBT communities’ fight for equality,” said Kristen Brengel of the National Parks Conservation Association.

— Lisa Neff

image pride stonewall plaque

Spring mobilization: Democracy is awakening!

The jig is up, and my time has come. I’m about to be arrested. They’ll be hauling me away in mid-April.

Not for doing anything wrong, really. In fact, the authorities will arrest me for standing up for what’s right. Or, more accurately, I’ll be sitting down for what’s right — by participating in a peaceful sit-in at the U.S. Capitol. I don’t yet know the details of the process, but I am certain of why I’m doing it: To help reclaim our People’s democratic rights from the moneyed elites who have bought our elections and deeply corrupted our government.

I’m also certain I will not be alone in the paddy wagon. That’s because thousands of mad-as-hellers will be converging on Washington in mid April to launch a nationwide mass mobilization of people power to halt Big Money’s control of our political system—and I’d like to see you there, too!

But you don’t have to risk arrest to join this democratic moment, for April’s Democracy Awakening will offer a wide variety of ways to protest the plutocrats without leaving your comfort zone. Saturday afternoon, April 16, will feature workshops, teach-ins and art aimed at the connections between voting rights, political money, and the democratic struggles for a healthy living planet, a fair economy, and more. On Sunday, April 17, there’ll be a big, colorful march, followed by a “Rally for Democracy” on the Capitol lawn; and April 18 will be a day for us commoners to team up, sit in, and by other means lobby our congress critters, demanding in person that they end their corporate money addiction. Find out details at DemocracyAwakening.org.

Throughout this People-A-Palooza, there will be an energizing balance of seriousness and fun: how-to workshops, tub-thumping speeches, cultural exchanges, concerts, pop-up musical performances, direct-action trainings, art exhibits and shows, teach-ins, and other activities. Organized by such disparate groups as the Sierra Club, NAACP, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Greenpeace, and the Communication Workers of America, the Democracy Awakening expressly recognizes that progress on all of our issues has been walled in by corporate bribery funds, K-street lobbyists, crony capitalism and nefarious voter suppression. From climate change to the Walmartization of our economy to racial justice, they understand that none of us can advance until we all team up to tear down that wall.

Mobilization now

The time has come. Six years after the Supreme Court’s malignant Citizen’s United ruling, nearly every American plainly sees how our nation’s historic “one person-one vote” political ethic of citizen equality has been buried in a roaring avalanche of money from corporations and the ultra-rich. Moreover, nearly nine years after Wall Street thieves wrecked our economy, the great majority also plainly sees that the Court’s turbo-charge of money politics has produced economic policies that richly reward the plutocratic robbers and coldly abandon the robbed. Americans know they’re being stiffed, for they’re experiencing it personally, and they’re furious at the business-as-usual/politics-as-usual establishment that has done it to them.

This powerful anti-Big Money sentiment is also what has fueled 2016’s establishment-stunning Bernie & Donnie presidential runs, and it’s why we democracy rebels should shift now from complaining about the plutocratic corruption of our country to stopping it. This hyper-political year is the time to move, for (1) the presidential and congressional elections will focus public attention on the political system for months to come, and (2) corporate and political cash will be on full display (from the Koch Brothers’ Billionaire Money Bash to the garish corporate sponsorship of both parties’ national conventions).

While all of the establishment forces have dourly told us commoners that we must resign ourselves to the New Citizens United Order of court-sanctioned rule-by-money, the people themselves have not accepted that. But where could they turn for help, since the leadership of both political parties either enthusiastically welcomed government by and for the 1-percenters (GOP) or — with a wink and a nod — agreed to go along with it (Dems) in exchange for getting their own share of big money donations? For six years, the broad public has been yearning for some one, some thing, some moment, to arise and rescue the founding ideals of 1776.

Well, here it is! And who are our rescuers? Us! You, me, and all the thousands of mavericks around the country ready to fire a new democratic “shot heard ‘round the world.” This will signal to the millions of frustrated Americans that they are not helpless in the face of plutocracy.

The moment is ripe to rally a People’s rebellion and make this election year the turning point for fundamental change. Simply getting such a diverse group of reformers to join hands in such an effort is an auspicious sign that maybe — just maybe — we can bind our forces into an effective populist movement for the long haul, rebuilding America’s democratic promise for the greater good of all.

Given the opportunity, don’t we have to go for it? I hope to see you in Washington!

Speaker, author and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

On the web

DemocracySpring.

DemocracyAwakening.

Steps to LGBT progress in Milwaukee

40 YEARS AGO

In 1975, the Gay People’s Union established a gay and lesbian community center in a flat on Milwaukee’s East Side. Called The Farwell Center, it played host to community meetings and housed the GPU VD Examination Center, which later became the Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic. The Farwell Center location is currently occupied by Bronze Optical, a gay-owned business.

Milwaukee’s lesbian community was turning on to women’s music and culture in 1975. The publication Amazon lists concerts by national artists such as Margie Adam, Cris Williamson, Casse Culver and the Berkeley Women’s Music Collective. Women organized carpools to the National Women’s Music Festival. Natural Woman, a monthly event at the Women’s Coalition, showcased local women poets, singers and visual artists.

30 YEARS AGO

In 1985, the Milwaukee AIDS Project began its first full year of providing services to people with HIV/AIDS. The project evolved into the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, which coordinated a more comprehensive response to AIDS. 

The Gay and Lesbian Community at UW-Milwaukee held a Gay Awareness Week in March 1985 that included appearances by Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet; the lesbian comic Robin Tyler; and the singing duo Romanovsky and Phillips.

In April, the Cream City Business Association gave its “Torch Bearer” Award to Gov. Tony Earl for his contributions to the community’s well being.

Gov. Earl’s Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues documented anti-gay bias and worked to secure compliance with the state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

20 YEARS AGO

In 1995, PrideFest successfully negotiated a lease with World Festivals, Inc., for use of Henry Maier Festival Park as the site of its 1996 festival. In June, PrideFest drew 32,822 to its 20th anniversary.

The Milwaukee LGBT community made other steps toward recognition in 1995. City Hall hosted the opening reception of The Advocate magazine’s  Long Road to Freedom exhibit on gay and lesbian history. The Milwaukee County Commission on Aging launched its first study of the needs of gay and lesbian seniors. 

LGBT 12-Step groups marked a decade of existence at a conference called “Commitment ’95,” and Milwaukee groups were featured on an episode of the PBS series In the Life. The show included a funny bit with the Lesbian Alliance softball team singing the theme to Laverne and Shirley.

10 YEARS AGO

In August 2005, the MPD’s vice division shut down a touring production of Naked Boys Singing! at the Gay Arts Center. The cops swooped in after a complaint about the show’s “immoral” content. Police questioned whether the center was a licensed theater.

Given the MPD’s long history of harassing gays, activists saw the police action as censorship and selective law enforcement. The ACLU of Wisconsin won a $20,000 settlement for the Arts Center from the city in 2010. It was determined that the Arts Center, as a non-profit, was not required to have a theater license.

Ironically, the MPD had initiated a new slate of diversity training for officers and command staff in 2005. The training was overseen by an openly gay captain named Mary Hoerig. A 24-year veteran of the MPD, Hoerig now holds the rank of inspector.

Peace activists march to protest drones

Joy First has been arrested about 35 times.

“I think that many,” says the Mount Horeb resident, who has been active in the peace movement since about 2002 and the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

And she’s willing to risk arrest again in act of civil resistance at Volk Field at Camp Douglas in Wisconsin. Volk is the site of the Tactical Unmanned Aerial System facility, a $4.5-million operation housing the RQ-7B Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and a platoon of operators, according to base information.

Aug. 18–25, First plans to join other peace activists in a 90-mile march from the Dane County jail in Madison to Volk. The activists plan to walk about 12–16 miles a day and spend their nights at churches, homes or campsites. 

On the eve of the march, a public assembly will be held at Edgewood College in Madison.

The organizing groups are Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.

For more than three years, the coalition has been holding monthly vigils at the gates to Volk. The first vigil was held in December 2011.

The Shadow drones at Volk are not armed but, First said, “They are part of the bigger picture of U.S. warfare. Without the Shadow, they wouldn’t be able to use the Predator.”

The RQ-7 Shadow UAV is equipped with a camera and used for reconnaissance and surveillance; the Predator is a larger aircraft with weaponry.

The Shadow is being used by ground troops to support convoy operations, field artillery and troops in contact with enemy forces, according to the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs.

In August 2010, the Wisconsin National Guard at Volk launched the first test of the Shadow, which can reach heights of 15,000 feet and has a range of about 125 kilometers.

In December 2013, military leaders gathered with elected officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Volk to celebrate the construction of the unmanned aircraft facility. The Shadow, the speakers emphasized, would be deployed to help save the lives of U.S. servicemembers.

Activists decided to begin the August march at the jail to make a connection between the violence overseas and the violence committed by militarized U.S. police forces. At a short program at the jail at 10 a.m. on Aug. 18, the marchers will hear from representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’re really trying to draw the connection by walking from the jail to the field that what the U.S. military is doing to brown people on the other side of the world is connected to what the police are doing to black people in this country,” said First. 

She added, “People are coming from all over the country to participate in this walk. And it really does feel like a family reunion.”

“These drones, we believe, are illegal and criminal,” said First.

“Most of the people who go are involved in a lot of different anti-war activity,” First said. The protesters assemble at about 3:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Occasionally the protesters go beyond the gates. Demonstrators risked arrest to walk on the base with a letter to the commander and risked arrest again to deliver a call to prosecute for war crimes.

“We are handcuffed and arrested. They take us to the station 20 miles away,” she said. “We get bench trials, where we’ve been found guilty.”

She said charges often get downgraded from a misdemeanor to an ordinance violation.

First has participated in other anti-war actions, including at the White House and Pentagon, and she plans to attend another demonstration in Washington, D.C., in September.

First arrived at anti-war activism in her 50s. “This is something that I just feel I’m called to do. I think about my grandchildren and I have to do this.”

She has six grandchildren between the ages of 4 and 16 and she’s spoken with all of them about war and peace.

“We’ve talked about why I’m doing this and why it’s important,” she said. “We’ve talked about war and people dying.”

Wisconsinites float Lanterns for Peace

August brings peace actions around the world. The tradition, in part, commemorates the anniversary of America’s atomic bombings of Japan.

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, on Aug. 9, 1945. The attacks by the United States hastened an end to World War II, with Japan’s surrender days later.

About 200,000 people died in the two blasts.

Each year, Japan’s government marks the anniversaries with a memorial at Budokan hall in Tokyo.

This year in Japan, memorials also were held in peace parks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as concerts, film screenings, art exhibits and seminars.

Memorials also were held across the country, including in Wisconsin, where Lanterns for Peace ceremonies took place at Governor Dodge State Park near Dodgeville on Aug. 2, Tenney Park in Madison on Aug. 6 and Washington Park in Milwaukee on Aug. 8.

Preserving Pride: National LGBT Museum to open by 2019

For the past seven years, Tim Gold has collected more than 5,000 artifacts documenting the LGBT civil rights movement and the lives of LGBT people — enough items to fill a museum.

And that’s just what he and supporters of the National LGBT Museum plan.

Gold began thinking about an LGBT museum while working for the National Postal Museum and reading about James Smithson, for whom the Smithsonian Institution is named. 

In 2008, Gold co-founded the museum, which is dedicated to sharing the heritage of LGBT people. He is co-chair of the museum board and he and husband Mitchell Gold of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams make up the founder’s circle.

Earlier this spring, the board announced the selection of New York City as the site for the museum.

The board also announced longtime LGBT civil rights advocate Kevin Jennings agreed to serve as co-chair. Jennings, an educator, activist and author, has been involved in promoting, teaching and preserving LGBT history for decades. He founded the organization now known as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and established the first gay-straight alliance. He also worked with LGBT leaders to recognize LGBT History Month in October.

“A New York City resident, a historian by training and a long-time leader in the LGBT movement, Kevin is the perfect partner to help lead the effort to establish this museum in New York City,” said Gold.

Jennings said, “Tim and the board have done significant work in envisioning what a national LGBT museum might look like and I am excited to join them in helping turn that vision into a reality.”

WiG recently asked Jennings about the board’s plans to open the museum in New York City, where 46 years ago this month, the modern gay civil rights movement began with the raid and the riots at the fabled Stonewall Inn.

What went into selecting the site?  The ideal site is a city with a deep LGBT history, supportive community and political leadership and a strong tourism sector.  New York has all three and we’re excited to be moving ahead with that as our home.

The goal is to open the museum for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 2019? This will be such a momentous occasion and to have a museum open to commemorate it would be a dream come true. It would be a critical time to reflect on how far we have come and also on the work that remains to be done.

What needs to happen for you to achieve the 2019 goal?  Museums come down to three things: collections, space and money. Tim has built a wonderful collection of over 5,000 artifacts which, when combined with the fact that there are numerous other collections from which we hope to borrow, means we’ve cleared that hurdle. The next hurdle is finding the right space, which, in New York City’s highly competitive real estate market, will not be easy.

Once we have the space, we then need the money to design and build the exhibition.

So you are you at work collecting for the museum? Yes, we hope people will reach out to us if they have items they think may be of interest.

What will it cost to open the doors? Are you looking for major donors? We will need both public funding and are already discussing this with elected officials who are supportive of the project, as well as individual and corporate support to build the museum.

What are the museum’s most important artifacts or materials at this point? Among the cool things we already have are the military uniform of Frank Kameny, who organized the first picket of the White House for LGBT rights in 1965; a walking stick that belonged to Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African-American civil rights leader who organized the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave the “I have a dream” speech; and a T-shirt from the nation’s first gay-straight alliance, founded in Massachusetts in 1988.

Kevin, the first time I wrote about gay history was back in the early to mid-1990s. I was reporting in St. Louis and writing about you, Rodney Wilson and others working to establish Gay History Month, gay-straight alliances and GLSEN. You’ve been involved in this work for so long. Why is it so important? The black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without a history is like a tree without roots.” To understand oneself as part of a historical tradition gives one a sense of place and belonging in the world, one all too often denied to LGBT people and especially LGBT youth, who learn next-to-nothing of our history while in school. Our museum intends to fill that void.

LGBT archives exist in a number of cities, including Milwaukee. Do you expect the museum will work with these institutions and organizations to bring their collections to New York for exhibition? Or do you see the museum providing traveling exhibits? I think both. In addition to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture opening in Washington, D.C., next year, there are multiple museums dedicated to the African-American civil rights movement — in Atlanta, Memphis, Birmingham, Jackson, Mississippi, and Greensboro, North Carolina, just to name a few. There’s no reason we can’t have local museums that speak to local stories in addition to a national museum.

Exploring your website, I came across this description of the museum: “The museum recognizes and presents the stories of the LGBT communities as a part of — not apart from — the American experience, where the intersections of diverse cultures, shared by diverse people, define us as individuals and as a nation.” Talk about this more, this idea of telling our story as a part of the American experience. The LGBT story is an amazing American story of diverse people coming together to fight for their rights and claim their rightful place in society. We think this is a story that should inspire people of all backgrounds who are eager to share it.

Imagine it is 2020 and the museum has been open for a year. The big issue of same-sex marriage was settled five years earlier, in June 2015. What’s taking place at the museum? What will people find when they walk through the doors? My hope is they will find exhibits that will challenge them to think about both how we have made the progress we have made so far, as well as the work that still remains to be done, exhibits that imbue them with a sense of pride in their heritage and a belief that every person has the power to make a difference.

On the Web …

Learn more about the pending National LGBT Museum at nationallgbtmuseum.org.

Flashback 2014: Keystone pipeline galvanizes environmental movement

Hundreds of young people risked arrest protesting the proposed Keystone Pipeline XL in early March and forming the largest youth demonstration at the White House in a generation.

“We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to stop this pipeline,” Felix Bick, a student at the University of California-Berkeley, said at the time.

Bick returned to Washington, D.C., in the late fall, during the lame-duck session of Congress. He joined dozens of demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, where the Senate was debating a bill to bypass the federal review process and approve the pipeline, which would further the exploitation of Canada’s Tar Sands and deliver dirty oil across the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico.

The House, in the days after the Nov. 4 election, rushed to approve a KXL bill. The Senate, after a long day of debate, defeated the measure — barely — and KXL opponents returned their focus to the president, who eventually must decide whether to approve a permit for the project.

“I think he’s with us, the president. I really do,” said Milwaukee green activist Chelsea Wainthorpe.

She and other Wisconsin activists pointed to breakthroughs in climate action in 2014, including: 

• The Clean Power Plan proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which would impose the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution by power plants. 

• The Obama administration’s announcement in November that the United States and China had reached an agreement to cut carbon emissions.

• The growing movement on college campuses and in college towns to divest from fossil fuel stocks.

These developments occurred as scientists sounded a series of alarms, warning global leaders that failure to radically reduce emissions could put the planet on a trajectory with irreversible impacts — rising sea levels, warmer waters, melting glaciers, intense heat waves, weird and severe weather and lost or declining species.

The threats brought hundreds of thousands out to demonstrate on Earth Day in April and again for the People’s Climate actions in September.

The threats also fueled protests in Wisconsin, where environmentalists dealt with global concerns, but also local regional matters — Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-green administration, open-pit mining, frac sand mining, pipeline permitting, groundwater pollution and the hunting of wolves, long considered an endangered species.