Today, FreeState Justice celebrates the life of Charles Byrd Blackburn, a tireless worker for equality in Maryland, who passed away last week. He is survived by his husband Glen Dehn.
Former Equality Maryland Executive Director Dan Furmansky shares the following:
“I join a huge community of people mourning the passing of Charles Blackburn. Charles and his husband, Glen, were two of the nine plaintiffs who sued the state of Maryland for the freedom to marry. Glen and Charles didn’t just challenge the constitutionality of marriage discrimination; they willingly opened up their lives to advance the cause. When they married a few years ago at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, it was an incredibly joyful thing to behold. But LGBT advocacy wasn’t Charles’ first foray into activism. As a Unitarian minister in Alabama in the 1960s, and later as a Southern states’ organizer for the ACLU, Charles was an active presence in the civil rights movement. He was jailed in McComb, and fasted in protest; marched twice in Selma; worked for integration in Huntsville; and faced burning crosses on his lawn, as well as rocks, gunshots, death threats and obscenities hurled in his direction. Listening to him tell the stories from this time in his life was a rare treat, and deeply inspirational. More important than his activism, Charles was a luminous presence with a kind heart, and a willing smile, not to mention a gorgeous singing voice.”
To learn more about Charles’ courageous life, click here. If Charles’ touched your life, you can honor him with a gift to the ACLU of Maryland.