Activism is part of daily life for Dr. Forrest Crawford. In front of a crowd of approximately 2,000 Equality Utah members and supporters, he elaborated on his activism for the LGBT community.
“Please know that I do not consider this work as novel to you, for it is not only what I do, but it is also who I am,” he said. “It is part of a deeper passion.”
This was echoed by WSU Chair of the Visual Arts Department Matt Choberka, who attended. He said he knew Crawford, a fellow professor at WSU, by reputation “as a guy who’s been completely involved in efforts of equality for, it sounds to me like, as long as anyone can remember, which is amazing and fantastic.”
Crawford was there to accept one of three Allies Awards from Equality Utah for his work in including the LGBT community in the broader civil rights work he is doing.
This theme of inclusion was shared in his speech, where he brought all civil rights and equality issues under the same umbrella.
“You do these things because you’re fighting the good fight, smoothing the jagged edges and rocky roads for somebody else, for a more perfect union,” Crawford said. “You are, indeed, a 21st century abolitionist.”
Terese Martinez, a WSU alumna and current diversity and inclusive programs coordinator, said of Crawford’s speech, “Just watching him, it’s really powerful.”
This idea of unity continued throughout the night.
“This kind of event brings people together that maybe wouldn’t be brought together in too many other venues,” Choberka said. “We’ve got political leaders and educators and cultural leaders and just fascinating people to look at in every direction … it reminds you of the richness of your community, and that’s never a bad thing.”
Several people from WSU were there to watch Crawford be honored at the benefit where writer, noted feminist and political activist Gloria Steinem gave the keynote speech.
She, too, focused on how these various movements are part of a larger picture, saying, “It is not possible to be a feminist without also being anti-racist.” She explained further that violence against women normalizes other types of violence because that “normalizes the idea that one group of people was born to dominate another.”
Steinem said, echoing Crawford’s remarks, “We are not asking to be included for our good. We are asking to be included for the good of our country.”
For the WSU crowd at the benefit dinner, the night was mostly about Crawford.
Graylin Bartley, friend of the Crawford family and WSU alumnus, said, “He’s like a brother to me. He means a lot to me, as an activist and as a friend. I’m proud to know him.”
For Crawford, the night was about community.
“I just feel very overwhelmed, very privileged, and, most importantly, I feel very supported,” Crawford said. “Equality Utah is a link in the chain of organizations fighting for equality.”