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Christopher Street Liberation Day 1970

"Marching Any Ol' Way We Damn Well Please"
"Marching Any Ol' Way We Damn Well Please"

Two men (Jim Fouratt at right) holding Christopher Street Liberation Day banner, 1970. Photograph by Diana Davies. NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division, Diana Davies Papers. Copyright Diana Davies. Digital ID: 1619938
In 1965 the East Coast Homophile Organization (ECHO) began holding annual Reminder Marches in Philadelphia each Fourth of July. To commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, ECHO approved moving the 1970 march to New York City for the last weekend in June. Craig Rodwell was the major force behind the move. A veteran activist of Mattachine, Rodwell had started the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967 in order to create a visible public space for gays and lesbians, and had participated in Mattachine's "sip-in" at Julius' bar protesting the State Liquor Authority's ban on serving homosexuals. After organizing the New York involvement in the annual Reminder Marches for several years, Rodwell spearheaded the committee to plan the new march in New York City. The new march was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to move attention from the Mafia-controlled Stonewall and onto the gay and lesbian struggle for liberation happening in the streets.

Despite widespread fear of police obstruction and public violence, the march went on, traveling uptown on Sixth Avenue from Greenwich Village to Central Park for the "Gay Be-In." All of the New York City gay and lesbian groups participated — both the new generation and established veterans — as well as visitors, and the march attracted national media attention. The more than 2,000 people who joined in transformed American public discussion of homosexuality that day, simply by being themselves as they walked together uptown. A sister march was held in Los Angeles, and soon, sister marches would be held around the world.

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