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 I never had a conversation with the mayor’s office until they released the statement that I had mutually withdrawn.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.