Huggins urges U to stand for LGBT issues

By Brandon Fausett, Staff Writer

Ericka Huggins, who was present when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, shared her experiences with students and members of the community at the U on Thursday afternoon.

Students, faculty and community members listened as Huggins explained the turbulent time of the civil rights movement and the men and women who died fighting for equality.

She discussed how men and women of any sexual orientation should step into each other’s shoes to see alternate perspectives.

Her lecture at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts was the keynote address for Pride Week.

“It was empowering to us, especially to women,” said Erica Richardson, a senior in theater at the U.

Huggins who was once a leader of the Black Panthers and a political prisoner, is now an instructor at California State University in East Bay.

The Panthers organized programs to help the community and educate children, but they went unnoticed in history books, she said.

Huggins encouraged students to not let these issues die with the civil rights movement, but instead help educate the world about them.

Huggins also talked about how the education system is sometimes corrupt and how people have been fighting for years to improve the education of men, women and children.

Huggins encouraged the audience to step up and work out ways to decrease the suicide rate in LGBT youth.

“What legacy are we putting forth now to help this generation?” Huggins asked.

Huggins shared some of her experiences during the movement that led to her activism for equality.

At the age of 21, Huggins went on trial alongside Bobby Seale for murder charges and was sentenced to two years in prison. She was put into solitary confinement. The charges were later dropped.

Huggins raised one child on her own after her husband, former Panther leader John Huggins, was gunned down at a meeting at the University of California Los Angeles in 1969.

“My heart broke in so many pieces,” Huggins said. “I couldn’t cry.”

Huggins grew up in Washington D.C., and in 1963, at the age of 15, attended the March on Washington and decided to spend the rest of her life helping people.

“She is a very courageous and powerful woman,” said Cathy Martinez, director of the LGBT Resource Center.

Pride Week is a weeklong event intended to make the public aware of important issues for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on campus. It ends tonight with a “Gay-la” and silent auction from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center. For tickets, call 801-587-7973.

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