The ride to faith-based colleges opened Oct. 1 with a stop at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., before making its way to Columbia, S.C. and Columbia International University on Monday.
“We acknowledge the strides Morehouse and Spelman have taken to ensure that gay students are safe, and we hope to continue that work by creating spaces where gay and transgender students feel valued and welcome,” Jarrett Lucas, Equality Ride Co-director, says in a prepared statement. “Morehouse and Spelman are leaders in the historically black college community, and we believe our collaboration with them will inspire other schools to take an active role in supporting their LGBT students.”
Equality Ride has visited 50 colleges since 2006 to discuss policies that silence or discriminate against gay and lesbian students. But organizers of the event point out that Spelman includes sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policies and Morehouse students organized events rallying against homophobia last spring.
“I want the Equality Ride to come to Spelman because the social climate needs to change, and I think the visit will encourage that change,” says Keara Watkins, the vice president of Afrekete, Spelman’s LGBT student group. “Our student body is not completely represented or protected because of a lack of awareness about and solidarity with LGBT students.”
Michael Brewer, the vice president of SafeSpace at Morehouse, says students on that campus are making progress when it comes to gay and lesbian issues.
“We have done a lot of work, not only to make this institution comfortable for gay and queer students, but also to cement our collective life experience in the canon of black culture,” Brewer says in a prepared statement. “It’s a beautiful thing when others from across the nation can come and help us champion that vision through the noble principles of faith and nonviolence, which were brought together by our distinguished Morehouse brother, Dr. Martin Luther King, and remain at the heart of black America’s liberation ethos.”
On Thursday, Jasmine’s Care at Morehouse is scheduled to host a poetry reading event featuring gay students.