In response to Alexander F. Maher (Rainbow-colored bridge sends disgraceful message, July 20), may I be the first to say, Bravo. I applaud anyone who takes the time to write a letter to stand up for what they believe. Unfortunately, this is where my praise for Maher must end. His letter is nothing more than a work of conjecture, presumption and pure fantasy.
Mahers letter starts off with an educated guess that the rainbow lighting design is the work of Mayor Tom Henry or some minority-groups influence. First off, an educated person would do a little research before inventing the various conspiracy theories presented by Maher. Secondly, Maher spends his entire letter speaking on behalf of others and trying to force his words into the mouths of Martin Luther King, the entire Midwest population and God.
If Maher had done a bit of research, he would have discovered the reason for the rainbow lighting in relation to King. In 1966 King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conferences Operation Breadbasket. In 1971 Jesse Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) to continue the work of King after his assassination. Then, in 1984, the National Rainbow Coalition was formed in Washington, D.C.; its focus was to unite people and make America more inclusive. In 1996 the National Rainbow Coalition and Operation PUSH were merged to form the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition grew from the roots of the movement of the SCLC as created by King. All of this information can be found at rainbowpush.org.
Maher included a list of what he thinks King stood for and states that they have nothing to do with a covert expression of gay pride. Kings widow, Coretta Scott King, has publicly stated that she believed her husband would have supported gay rights. The King Center (thekingcenter.org) which was established in 1968 as the official, living memorial dedicated to advancing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. features a list entitled, The Triple Evils (poverty, racism and militarism) that should be opposed. They define racism as a philosophy based on a contempt for life and list homophobia as one of its examples. These stand as far more substantiated and reliable sources that that of Maher.
As for the rainbow, it began as a symbol of biblical promise. As God spoke to Noah in Genesis 9:13-16, NKJV: I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
The rainbow is a universally recognized symbol, and many cultures around the world use a rainbow flag as a sign of diversity, inclusiveness and hope. Wikipedia features 13 examples of groups and cultures that have used rainbow flags dating back as far as 1489. In the German Peasants War of the 16th century, the rainbow flag was used as the sign of a new era and of social change. The rainbow flag was used in Italy in a peace march in 1961 against nuclear weapons and again in 2002 to protest the impending war in Iraq. In 1925 The International Co-operative Congress adopted the rainbow flag as a symbol of unity in diversity and the power of light, enlightenment and progress. The anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela refers to the desegregation and vanishing apartheid in South Africa as the birth of the Rainbow Nation. Finally, in 1978, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pride movement also adopted a rainbow flag as a symbol of the diversity within their community.
The use of rainbow light is very well founded in the scheme of the glorious new Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge. As the rainbow is an everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth, I can think of no better way to honor his legacy. As King himself once famously stated: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.