Conversations with Nicole
By Nicole Murray Ramirez
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 6 pm, in the Council Chambers of San Diego City Hall, the annual presentation of the prestigious Bayard Rustin Honors will be held in celebration of our nation’s Black History Month. One of the most respected and acclaimed Hollywood film producers, Bruce Cohen, will be among the honorees receiving the coveted “Lifetime Achievement Award” and he will be flying in from New York to accept this well-deserved tribute.
Among Cohen’s award-winning films are “American Beauty,” as well as “Milk,” about the life of civil rights icon Harvey Milk, which starred Sean Penn.
California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber will also be flying in from Sacramento to present Cohen with the award. Dr. Weber herself is a 2015 Bayard Rustin Honors Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.
Decades ago, popular Latina activist Carolina Ramos first introduced me to the legacy and historic significance of Bayard Rustin.
What is so unbelievable is that I was actually introduced to Rustin at the 1987 National LGBTQ March on Washington at the main stage, but did not know who he was until Carolina showed me the documentary film on his life, “Brother Outsider.” This film absolutely changed my life, as I was angry at myself and our community as I soon realized at that time that probably 95% of our LGBTQA+ community did not know who Bayard Rustin was. And likely 80% of the African-American community was not aware of him.
Because of this, I vowed decades ago that I would make the legacy of Bayard Rustin one of my priorities and national projects. This is why I launched the ongoing Bayard Rustin Postage Stamp Campaign with honorary chairs like Bruce Cohen, Judy and Dennis Shepard, Mandy Carter, Cleve Jones, Stuart Milk, David Mixner, Rev. Troy Perry, and Rustin’s lifelong partner, Walter Naegle, who I have been honored to become friends with over these last few decades.
I was also proud to get Rustin placed on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City.
Carolina Ramos and I are the proud founders of the now acclaimed Bayard Rustin Honors, which we are making future plans to make a state-wide, and possibly national recognition.
Longtime LGBTQ and Black civil rights icon Mandy Carter was the first recipient of the Bayard Rustin Honors Lifetime Achievement Award.
I will never forget and will always appreciate State Senator Scott Weiner (then chair of the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus) and then State Assemblymember Shirley Weber (chair of the State Black Legislative Caucus) when they joined me in our efforts to get Gov. Gavin Newsom to pardon Bayard Rustin’s entrapment arrest record by the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1950s. That was a great day in our State Capital, as I joined Dr. Weber, Sen. Weiner, and members of the International Imperial Court to officially announce the governor’s pardon.
Joining us Feb. 28 at the Bayard Rustin Honors at San Diego City Hall, with not only Secretary of State Weber, but California State Senate President Pro Tem (and our next governor), Toni Aktins, along with Mayor Todd Gloria, District Attorney Summer Stephan, and other officials. The 6 pm event is open to the general public. See full list of honorees below.
–Nicole Murray Ramirez is a lifelong Latino and LGBT activist and advocate, a longtime city commissioner, and is the Queen Mother of the International Imperial Court of the Americas. He can be reached at [email protected].
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