Pastor Donnie McClurkin says that it was wrong of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington organizers to remove him from the lineup of a concert last weekend celebrating the anniversary. The Long Island, N.Y. based pastor made national news when he was asked by Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s office to leave the show.
The Mayor’s office issued a statement that read: “The Arts and Humanities Commission and Donnie McClurkin’s management decided that it would be best for him to withdraw because the purpose of the event is to bring people together,” said Doxie McCoy, a Gray spokesman. “Mayor Gray said the purpose of the event is to promote peace and harmony. That is what King was all about.” McClurkin disputed that account in a video saying he was “uninvited” to the show.
Pressure from a local gay rights activist was behind the decision, based on a statement McClurkin made on a Christian website in 2002, when he said he’d been “delivered” from homosexuality. The organizer of the concert, billed as the “Reflections on Peace: From Gandhi to King” says that he would have preferred to see McClurkin remain on the bill. “The fight for human rights is a global fight that has to bring us together,” organizer Nolan Williams told “The Washington Post.” “That has to bring us together whenever there are differences of opinions or differences in views. We still need to find a place to come together even when we don’t agree.”
McClurkin appeared on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” with Roland Martin to discuss the turn of events. Here’s what he had to say.
ROLAND MARTIN: The mayor’s office said that you voluntarily withdrew from this concert because you didn’t want this to overshadow the event. Is that actually the case?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: That couldn’t be furthest from the truth. That is absolutely untrue. I never had a conversation with the mayor’s office until they released the statement that I had mutually withdrawn.
ROLAND MARTIN: Yeah, what happened?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: To this day all I knew is that I was on my way to the airport, going to the event, and they called me as I getting out of the car telling me that I was uninvited and that the mayor had taken me off the concert because of one man who came to him and gave, and protested. And then that’s how the whole maelstrom happened.
Later on, about 15, 20 minutes later, we heard from the mayor’s office and Chris Murphy gave us a long spiel about how devastating this was but it was for the good of the event, and asked me to withdraw, and if I didn’t there would be a whole lot of judging of past things I don’t, and I wouldn’t want to put myself in. And that’s how that happened. I had nothing to do with this except for on my way to the airport to go to the concert.
TOM JOYNER: Do you know the person who complained?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: Uh, I think they said his name was Phil Tenel. (According to “The Washington Post,” D.C. gay rights activist Phil Pannell is the individual who objected.)
TOM JOYNER: Have you had problems with this person before?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: I have never met him.
ROLAND MARTIN: The city, you know, you were very explicit in telling Murphy that do not tell people that I withdrew because that is absolutely not the case.
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: That’s true. They were telling me that they did this for the benefit of, you know, a peaceful event that it would be better for all of us. And I told them that I don’t appreciate that because that’s not the truth. And for them to go and put that out even before speaking with anybody. That was my problem with him. And I told him point blankly my problem is that y’all had made it seem as though I’ve withdrawn. And to this day I’m on my way to the event. I haven’t withdrawn. I haven’t even spoken about this. And I’m headed there. And he was saying that it’s not beneficial for me to head there. He told my manager that if I came I would be escorted off the premises.
ROLAND MARTIN: So they made clear you were not wanted. They were rescinding this invitation and they said, well, he’s still going to be paid for, based upon the contract. But they made it clear that if you showed up that they were going to, you were not going to take that stage.
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: Yeah, and concerning compensation, they haven’t paid me a single penny.
SYBIL WILKES : Dang.
TOM JOYNER: Not even a deposit?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: Nothing.
ROLAND MARTIN: Now yesterday, they released a statement in an interview saying that you have been paid, or were going to be paid every cent. You are saying that has not happened.
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: That hasn’t happened, and it wasn’t communicated to us by the mayor’s office at all.
ROLAND MARTIN: Do you believe it’s fair, Donnie? I mean the comments that gays and lesbians are upset about you made more than a decade ago about formerly being gay, talking about it as being a sin. You made those comments more than a decade ago. Is it fair for an activist to, you know, a decade later to say, oh, because he made those comments in that period he shouldn’t do something today here in 2013?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: Well, it’s not fair, and it’s been an ongoing battle. It’s been an ongoing political battle. But in fairness we’re talking about a peace rally. And we’re talking about a group of people who have been lobbying for a long time for equality and tolerance. But now to have none concerning anybody else who said anything that is against, or not through their agenda. I don’t have a problem.
You can’t call me a homophobic if I’ve been a homosexual. That’s quite a stretch. But for them to think that it’s fair, or okay, or tolerant, to uninvite someone simply because they have opposing views, but have never said anything derogatory about them, just simply gave my testimony about what happened with myself.
TOM JOYNER: Would you give that testimony again, Donnie?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: Would I give it again?
TOM JOYNER: Yeah, right now.
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: My thing was from the time I was eight years old and raped three times by my uncle in one night, a prepubescent boy who doesn’t have any barriers or bustles; this was something that was instilled in me. And growing up it grew up in me. And, you know, broken family, broken home, broken psyche. You’re looking for attention. And I felt like I wasn’t adequate. And the only ones that really paid attention to me were men. And that’s how I grew into this.
Thirteen years old, molested in a car in church by my same uncle’s son. And this started a pathology. It started a situation. And growing up in the church, it was in the church, hidden. And it was like people, like an animal smelling dead meat. They gravitated to me at a young age. That’s how this whole process started. But my conviction biblically, and spiritually, let me know that this was not for me. This was not the lifestyle for me. And consequently, through a series of prayer, people are like praying the gay away, it wasn’t praying the gay away, it was finding out who I really am.
Finding out who God made me to be. And then agreeing with God even if it was a fight inside of me. And that’s how this whole thing happened. So through a couple of, well not, several years, of homosexual behavior and activity, finally coming to the point, in the church – now mind this, I was always in the church – that’s another story altogether. But I finally came to realize that this is not who God wants me to be. And then allowing God to show me who I am, make me who I am, and thus that’s who I am now. That’s all I’ve ever testified.
ROLAND MARTIN: Donnie, has the mayor of D.C., Vincent Gray, reached out to you, talked to you? Or has it been his aides around him?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: It’s simply been Chris Murphy.
ROLAND MARTIN: Do you believe the mayor of D.C., owes you an apology for disinviting you to this concert?
DONNIE MCCLURKIN: I believe that he owes the City of D.C., an apology. He’s done a disservice to the faith based community. And I can take the blow, but he needs to be more concerned about his constituency. And to do something like this at a Martin Luther King peace rally is totally against what Martin Luther King stood for.