William Way to Host Exhibit at National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center (NCC) rolled out the rainbow carpet this morning to announce a new exhibit in partnership with William Way Community Center that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s first LGBT protests—which took place right here in Philadelphia.
William Way Executive Director Christopher Bartlett was at NCC to share details about “Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights, and the Supreme Court,” and the significance of the protests, which were started by Barbara Gittings and a team of freedom fighters and called Annual Reminders.
“On July 4, 1965, LGBT activists picketed for justice in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Clad in suits and dresses to appear ‘normal,’ they carried posters that demanded equality for gays and lesbians in a society that treated them as criminals and deviants,” he said. “The public demonstrations, which were called Annual Reminder protests and would last until 1969, were sparked by one person’s failed effort to bring a discrimination case before the Supreme Court. They would become the first sustained national effort to focus attention on the discrimination faced by gay people and became a catalyst for LGBT Americans to organize for equality.”
“Speaking Out for Equality” will open just in time for Pride month, on Friday, June 5th, and continue through September 7th. It was curated utilizing “pivotal court cases, artifacts and personal stories that will chronicle the decades-long debate over gay rights, a debate that ultimately brought issues of LGBT equality before the Supreme Court.”
It is part of William Way’s larger series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the protests, “Reminder 2015: Celebrating 50 Years of LGBT History, Art and Culture.” Among the events you can expect are events coordinated in partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Independence Visitor Center, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. There will be a reenactment of the original Annual Reminder on July 4th.
Stay tuned for coverage and more details.
William Way is celebrating an anniversary of their own this year: the big 4-0. Check out our video below, featuring Christopher Bartlett and all the ways the LGBT center plans to celebrate.