Rebecca Walker kicks off Gay Pride Month at CMU

On Wednesday, Rebecca Walker spoke in McConomy Auditorium as the Gay Pride Month keynote speaker. The speech was the first event of many in celebration of Gay Pride Month at Carnegie Mellon University.
Walker, a graduate of Yale University, founded the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation and is the author of Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self; To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism; and Putting Down the Gun: New Masculinity. She is a contributing writer to Vibe, Essence, Harper?s, Spin, Glamour, and Ms. Magazine and was named one of the ?50 most influential American leaders under the age of 40? by Time magazine. She has also received the NOW Intrepid Award in addition to the Women Who Could Be President Award from the League of Women Voters.

Walker?s speech, titled ?Love that Defies Convention,? addressed issues of sexual orientation and race. Vijay Jesrani, a junior Policy & Management, Political Science, and History & Policy major and GLBT Issues intern, introduced Walker as ?someone who embodies Carnegie Mellon?s mission of diversity.? Walker, who is of Jewish and African-American descent, stated that ?it?s always a pleasure to speak to people ... who are not complete ... who want to grow.?
Walker said that ?we in the GLBT community are uniquely positioned to make decisions.? She then asked, ?What are we doing right?? and answered by saying, ?We are successful because of the power of our love.?
Walker also discussed her desire for people ?to tame their minds ... [to] increase positive emotions like love, compassion, and patience.?
?The peace movement begins at home ... in the hearts and minds of all of us,? she said. She encouraged students to ?[collapse] the boundary between yourself and others,? by spending 30 seconds of the day imagining what it would be like to love everyone in the world. ?Divisions exist primarily in our minds,? she said.
Dean of Student Affairs Michael Murphy felt that ?[Walker?s] style was very warm and embracing.... Her message of vision ... was very inspiring.?
Elizabeth Kupin, a junior in the Bachelor of Science and Arts program, echoed Murphy?s praise of Walker: ?[Walker?s] change of rhetoric was very interesting.? Kupin said she was pleased to find Walker?s speech ?more emotional and more personal? than she had anticipated.
Walker made a point to tell the audience that she was intentionally not dwelling on current legislation associated with GLBT issues. Walker explained that she would rather have President Bush become a more loving and compassionate person than have ten new laws for GLBT issues. However, when questioned the audience, she did briefly address her frustration with President George W. Bush. Walker condemned President Bush for ordering tanks instead of ordering more schools to be built in Iraq. In her speech, she described politics as ?a form of civil warfare,? and expressed her concern over the upcoming election and the war in Iraq. In the battle for more gay and lesbian rights, she said, ?We are slowly but surely winning.?
Walker?s speech was sponsored by SoHo, ALLIES, AB Political Speakers, Women at SCS, Student Affairs, the Women?s Center, the Student Senate, and cmuOUT.