JT Thompson coined the philosophy “One Human Family” in 2000 after spending four years trying to come up with the perfect phrase to unite all people.
“The first time I got the idea was in 1976 at an anti-Anita Bryant demonstration in Hollywood, CA. (Anita Bryant was an outspoken opponent of equality for homosexuals) when hundreds of African Americans from the NAACP arrived with a banner showing opposition to discrimination… and most of them were not gay,” said Thompson. “I realized minorities are kept politically separate, but if minorities stand up for each other and march side by side, we are a great force. I walked with the NAACP in that rally as the only white person in sight and felt tremendous power in the support of my brothers and sisters of color. We are all in this together and we must stand with each other when anyone faces discrimination.”
Thompson is an art director who moved to the Southernmost City in 1979. He always knew there was something special about the island and when the slogan hit the streets he could not keep the “One Human Family” bumper stickers in stock.
“It took me a long time to understand what is so special about Key West,” said Thompson thinking back to the concept’s debut in 2000. “I see people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds embracing ‘One Human Family’ all around the island and around the world. We have distributed more than 1,800,000 free stickers worldwide to date.”
Local and national support of the term has spread like wildfire. The proclamation making it the official philosophy of Key West was sponsored by Mayor Jimmy Weekley and was approved unanimously by the city commission on Oct. 17, 2000. In January of 2001, the Monroe County Commission unanimously adopted it as their official philosophy as well, followed by the Conch Republic.
“President Barack Obama and the new Pope have referenced One Human Family in their speeches,” said Thompson. Even the Dalai Lama wrote about “the oneness of the whole of humanity… we are all members of one human family.”
President of the Key West Gay and Lesbian Community Center, Mike Mongo said he feels that One Human Family goes along with two other notable quotes from Key West history. “One is Mel Fisher’s ‘Today is the Day,’ and the Conch Republic’s ‘We Seceded Where Others Failed.’ The final is ‘One Human Family,’” said Mongo, pondering a personal meaning. “It means we work together as one. Do good to one another and to the people that came before and the ones to come after.”
Key West City Commissioner Clayton Lopez was on the commission when the philosophy was adopted and the meaning could not be more important to him. “’One Human Family’ should be common sense. We need to take care of each other and be our brother’s keeper,” said Lopez. “ I believe it relates to what Martin Luther King Jr. said ‘until all of us are free, none of us are free.’”
One Human Family is also a concept echoed years ago by Albert Einstein. A quote from Einstein on One Human Family’s web page reads, “We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from others… a kind of optical delusion… this delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creates and the whole of nature in its beauty. A human being is a part of the whole universe. We shall require a substantial new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”
JT urges everyone to get some One Human Family stickers and wristbands for friends, available at his studio at 901 Fleming St., Key West. The stickers and shirts are always free. T-shirts with the slogan are available from the T-Shirt Factory on Simonton. For more info, visit OneHumanFamily.info and spread the love, because as JT says… “Like fingers on a hand, we are all different and unique. We are all of equal value. We are all created to work together… and although we appear separate, we are all linked to — and a part of — each other.”