In her essay about LA’s powerful #ResistMarch, Karen Ocamb says the spectacle of 100,000 people gathering as a community to celebrate their refusal to budge even an inch on our equality and civil rights gains, reminds her of the 1967 “Summer of Love.”
“People of all ages, colors and backgrounds called each other “brother” and “sister” and joined together in protesting the Vietnam War. Death was a constant far away terror with the government lying to keep the illusion of “winning” alive as bodies of our drafted friends, family and loved ones came home silently, as if each was an image of national shame,” she wrote.
Indeed, the summer of love happened during an era of massive resistance, an era in which the American equality movement was born. Vietnam and the anti-war movement intersected with the black Civil Rights Movement, women’s rights, the rights of workers, the rights of the poor and immigrants. LGBT resistance also emerged in the nation’s consciousness for the first time, with events like Compton Cafeteria in San Francisco, Black Cat in Los Angeles and Stonewall in New York.
But the era also saw its leaders come under fire. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy emerged as powerful leaders and both were assassinated. Others were demonized to the point where they feared for their lives or were killed. It was a densely packed era of resistance that came as a shock for America.
The Summer of Love also saw an unpopular first-term president choose not to run for a second term, giving rise to Richard Nixon’s ‘moral majority’ and setting the stage for years of conservative pushback, though his obsession with the resistance would ultimately doom his presidency.
An important difference between now and the era of the Summer of Love (at least on civil rights), is that the defining struggle then was a dramatic fight for extending the most basic civil rights for minorities, fighting injustice and fighting to advance equality.
Today our struggle, our resistance, is rooted in protecting the gains we have made since.
Donald Trump has tried to force upon our country an agenda that would seem intent on reversing those gains. He has empowered some of our worst enemies, eliminated key paths to equality and continues to take aim at the very fabric of the social contract this country has achieved. Perhaps the best evidence of that is his administration’s staff; each member of his cabinet is opposed to the missions of the very department they govern.
#ResistMarch wisely focused its efforts on intersectionality. The organizers recognized that the LGBT community is not alone in feeling threatened. They invited every marginalized community to stand with us “under the iconic rainbow flag.” They recognized that the march was not about Donald Trump. They defined resistance in many ways.
#ResistMarch expanded our rainbow. It may have launched a movement to broaden our coalition and embolden others to fight with us to protect the gains we have made in the country.
“If they come for one of us, they come for all of us,” as Brian Pendleton, #ResistMarch organizer points out, was the true theme of #ResistMarch.
The intersectional summer of love has begun, brothers and sisters.