81-year-old stuns city council meeting with amazing rap on LGBT rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A retired teacher received a standing ovation for a rap at a city council meeting in Michigan this week, during a debate on LGBT rights protections.

Jackson City Council had been meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) which would safeguard LGBT people from discrimination, owing to the absence of state or federal law protecting LGBT people.

Part-way through the meeting, tempers were beginning to fray after passionate speakers from both sides of the argument.

But councillors and the packed-out audience received an amazing treat when 81-year-old retiree Don Tassie – the former superintendent of the Da Vinci Institute High School – took to the mic.

Rather than perform his pre-planned speech, Mr Tassie decided to improvise a rap he had drawn up in his teaching days.

He rapped: “My friends they call me Mr T, well I’m here in a place where I love to be. Morning, noon-time, night or day, I hear all kinds of folks who say, Amen, inside out, just what are you talking about?

He continued: “Just be more kind is what I’m here to say, be more kind is what I’m here to say, to you, to me, ‘most every day.

“Kindness, caring, compassion too is what we all need to do. Don’t be afraid, don’t be shy, come on now let’s give it a try!

“Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, it’s time for us to all be friends.”

Concluding to cheers and a standing ovation, he rounded off: “Let’s do the right thing, let’s pass this NDO, let’s be more kind!”

Mr Tassie, whose wife passed away in 2001, said he would always support LGBT rights because of the kindness shown to him by a local lesbian couple when he was in mourning.

Speaking to Michigan Live after the even, he said: “They are my dearest best friends after that. How could I deny them, my friends, the same rights that I have?”

Mr Tassie also revealed that he had written a regular speech before opting to rap instead.

He said: “I didn’t intend to do that when I came… I had a whole speech prepared. We got started and people said things I was going to say.

“There was a part of me that thought it was time for something different, I thought, let’s try another thing!”

Clearly his rap had its desired effect, as the council voted approved a non-discrimination ordinance by a vote of 5-2, prohibiting “discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.”