Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall

Martin Luther King, Cullen Murphy, Rebecca Johnson, and others on the struggle for social justice in America.
5 stories

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still," President Obama proclaimed in his second inaugural. "Just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."

One hundred and fifty years after the Seneca Falls convention, Cullen Murphy examined how one of its founders, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, lost her leadership in the women's suffrage movement because of her feminist commentary on the Bible. "Everyone remembers that the Seneca Falls convention issued a call for giving women the vote," Murphy wrote. "But the convention also brought formal criticism upon the Bible, in these words: 'Resolved, That woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her.'”

Shortly after the first march for voters' rights in Selma, Alabama, Martin Luther King wrote about the issues at stake for The Nation. "Selma involves more than disenfranchisement," Dr. King argued. "Its inner texture reveals overt and covert forms of terror and intimidation—that uniquely Southern form of existence for Negroes in which life is a constant state of acute defensiveness and deprivation. Yet if Selma outrages democratic sensibilities, neighboring Wilcox County offers something infinitely worse."

And in 2011, June Thomas asked whether, forty-plus years after the Stonewall riot, the gay bar is endangered. "Stonewall was not the first time that gay people had fought back against police harassment," Thomas noted. "Nor, as we will see, was it the first time that bar raids sparked protests. Bars played this political role because bars were where gay people gathered." And as Thomas lamented, "Without the gay bar, gay culture and gay rights might not exist."

From the Web

The Gospel According to Eve

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s sardonic and biting protofeminist commentary on the Bible cost her the leadership of the suffragist movement.

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The Last Dreamer

John Lewis was on the front lines in Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery. Today, the fight has changed.
Aug 2003
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Let Justice Roll Down

The state of civil rights and race relations in America.

Mar 1965

Beyond Stonewall

Gay struggles, twenty-five years on.

Jun 1994
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The Gay Bar

Is it dying?
Jun 2011