NAACP criticizes Kriseman, gay rights groups over their opposition to MLK Day speaker
The controversy over Dr. Jamal Bryant's appearance the MLK Leadership Awards Breakfast continues. Late Thursday, the St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP issued a statement saying the group was saddened by Mayor Rick Kriseman and the gay community's opposition to the selection of Bryant as the keynote speaker at the Jan. 18 event.
The civil rights group said it was buying a table at the celebration in support of the National Council of Negro Women, who organized the event.
Kriseman declined a request to award a key to the city to Bryant, a nationally-known Baltimore minister and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement. Kriseman's staff has said that Bryant's inflammatory remarks about gays disqualified him from the honor.
Kriseman does plan to attend the breakfast, his chief of staff Kevin King said Thursday.
The NAACP said that calls by gay-rights groups and some Black Lives Matter activists that the NCNW rescind its invitation was an attempt to dictate to the group who it should invite.
Angela Rouson, who organized the NCNW event, and Bryant haven't responded to requests for comment.
Here is the NAACP statement:
In support of the National Council of Negro Women (“NCNW”) celebration and commemoration of the legacy of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the NAACP St. Petersburg Branch has consented to purchase a table of 10 for the NCNW’s upcoming Dr. M.L. King, Jr. breakfast. While we are saddened that Mayor Kriseman, leaders in the Democratic Party and leaders within the gay community have taken offense to the NCNW’s selection of a speaker for the event, we think it is important to maintain a heightened level of support for the NCNW, and their choice of speaker.
The NAACP believes if as a community we are to ever move pass the issue of intolerance, bigotry and hatred we must all learn to love and embrace those that have views that diametrically oppose our own, particularly when those beliefs are grounded in one’s faith and religion.
It would have been our hope that if there had been comments or views by Pastor Jamaal Bryant that Mayor Kriseman, Democrat Party Leaders or those in the gay community found offensive, instead of attempting to dictate who the NCNW should invite or not invite to their event, they could have taken the opportunity to request an audience with Pastor Bryant. Boycotting or trying to disrupt an event in honor of Dr. King and the celebration of the unique experiences of the African American Community simply evidences the fact that the African American Community in St. Petersburg has for far too long been taken for granted.
The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. In many instances we hope to achieve that objective through dialogue and tolerance.