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Washington, DC – May 15, 2015 – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, stands in solidarity with Michael L. Johnson, a Black gay man who was found guilty by a St. Charles County, Missouri jury yesterday of one count of “recklessly infecting” a partner with HIV, and three counts of “recklessly exposing” partners to HIV. The verdict from a jury, comprised of 11 white jurors and one Black juror, came after only two hours of deliberation and after just three days of a trial. He now faces life in prison.

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“NBJC is thrilled that U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch has finally been confirmed by the Senate to become our nation’s next Attorney General. It’s an embarrassment that this well-qualified nominee had to wait 165 days for a vote on the Senate floor, longer than any other nominee in our nation’s history,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director & CEO. “Now that she has been confirmed, NBJC looks forward to continuing to work with the Department of Justice under her leadership working on critical issues like profiling, voting rights and equal protection laws for the LGBT community.

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Every year on February 7th our nation pauses to recognize the need for action to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) began 15 years ago as a means of engaging Black people about the epidemic and spread of HIV within our families and neighborhoods. At the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), we have called to action the Black family around the notion that the first step to ending the epidemic in our community is to embrace HIV/AIDS as a Black health issue.

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Today, the National Black Justice Coalition’s (NBJC) Executive Director and CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, issued the following statement in support of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s termination of former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran after he went against city policy by writing a book that included homophobic statements...

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Washington, DC – Today the state of Florida joins 35 other states in granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry. This action comes after Federal District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled last August that Florida’s law barring same-sex couples from marrying violated the equal protection and due process requirements of the U.S. Constitution and stayed his ruling until January 5, 2015. Both the 11th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently denied the State of Florida’s request to extend the stay, which ultimately led to marriage equality as the law of the land in Florida as of today. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) applauds the ruling and celebrates Florida joining the movement to expand marriage rights to same-sex couples in our nation.

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Washington, D.C. – The National Black Justice Coalition’s (NBJC) Executive Director & CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, released the following statement in response to the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014:
 
“I speak as a Black mother of a Black toddler boy who will one day grow up and learn that he lives in a nation where his very existence is a threat. As a parent, I will have to instruct him on how to properly conduct himself in front of law enforcement because one perceived wrong motion or non-submissive remark towards a police officer could serve him to be fatal. I will need to teach him about the legacy of Black lives eliminated due to physical and systematic violence that is too often justified by the law itself...."

 

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Washington, DC – Today, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) joined the call for Michigan lawmakers to include protections for transgender people in legislation to expand the state’s non-discrimination law. Michigan’s current non-discrimination law, known as the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, was passed in 1976 and banned discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, sex, religion, age, height, weight, marital or family status, and national origin. An updated non-discrimination bill was introduced this week in the Michigan House of Representatives to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but failed to include protections on the basis of gender identity or gender expression.

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Washington, DC -- The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) celebrates the nomination of United States Attorney Loretta Lynch to be the nation’s 83rd Attorney General. Lynch is currently the top federal prosecutor of the Eastern District of New York, which includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Lynch would become the first Black woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official, following the historic tenure of current Attorney General Eric Holder.

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Washington, DC -- The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) joins the call for the organizers of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) to end their informal policy of not welcoming transgender women to participate in the international, all women music festival. Birthed out of the feminist movement of the late twentieth century, MWMF has provided an exclusive space built by and for women since 1976. This weeklong music and community festival, located in a small wooded area of Hart, Michigan, has maintained a policy that only women who were assigned female at birth should attend. 

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Washington, DC — Today marks the 49th anniversary since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Spurred by the groundwork of Freedom Summer and the horrific events of Bloody Sunday, the VRA was an unapologetic answer by the federal government to southern states that were blocking the voting rights of Black Americans. Ratified in 1867, the 15th Amendment of the United States Constitution provided that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged” on the basis of race. For nearly 100 years after its ratification, white state officials illegally denied Blacks, and other people of color, from voting even with federal anti-discrimination laws on the books.

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