By Kelli Cantrell 

I have always seen Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a day to recognize the civil rights movement and the people that led it, but those nation-changing events happened well before I was born. The civil rights movement in my life time will be the fight for marriage equality for the LGBT community.

Indiana Youth Group, an LGBT youth group that I am a volunteer with, recently partnered with AFSC for the 16th annual Peace Learning Center MLK Community Festival. Our contribution to this intergenerational community event was to present a workshop on the life of Bayard Rustin, a little known civil rights leader who was black, openly gay and Quaker at a time in history when he suffered discrimination for all three.

This collaboration was a reminder that we have much to learn from the civil rights leaders of the past.  Teaching young gay rights advocates about the tactics of Bayard Rustin and MLK can only strengthen our current grassroots movement for marriage equality.

One of the youth who led the workshop poignantly said, “A movement can’t survive without collaboration across race, class and sexual orientation, which is why the gay rights movement has been so effective.” If a teenager can express this sentiment, then I have faith that our fight for marriage equality is not lost on the next generation of activists.

Kelli Cantrell is an AFSC Intern and volunteer with Indiana Youth Group.