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David Johns Honored by Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation

WASHINGTON — Saturday, June 8, 2019, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, hosted its annual conference and benefit dinner. This year’s theme “Can We Talk?” promotes dialogue about the impact that  Mental Health issues have in Black communities. On Friday, June 7, actress and activist Taraji P. Henson gave a testimony before the Black Caucus’ Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Mental Health and Suicide. She shared her personal experiences with depression and anxiety, and spoke about the importance of increasing access to Mental Health services in school. Founded by Henson in August 2018 and named after her father, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation aims to support Mental Health by providing resources that are too often absent in Black communities and schools.

As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth, Mental Health and Suicide, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), seeks to promote awareness of Mental Health issues that uniquely impact members of the Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) community. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “Over 80% of LGBTQ+ youth have been assaulted or threatened, and every instance of victimization in an LGBTQ+ person’s life more than doubles the likelihood of self-harming.”  At a time when Black LGBTQ/SGL students experience bullying and suicide at unprecedented rates, it is important that we do the work to ensure all of our babies are able to live happy, healthy, and whole. This means, doing the work of developing a comprehensive report by the end of this calendar year that includes the predestined and recommendations of Black LGBTQ/SGL students, who are most often neglected and ignored in conversations about both Mental Health and the Black community.

NBJC pauses to salute our Executive Director, David J. Johns, as he is the recipient of the Compassionate Justice Award, presented by the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in recognition of nearly two decades of service to our children, our community, and our country. During his acceptance speech, Johns expressed that he is “Thankful for people with platforms elevating private conversations in public spaces so we can all get free.” He later quoted James Baldwin, reminding those in attendance that, “To be Black and in America, means to live in a constant state of rage, which means we have to do the work to ensure that our babies are able to show up in required spaces and feel safe, engaged, and supported.”

NBJC is proud to support Taraji P. Henson, Tracie Jade Jenkins and the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation for their crucial leadership to increase opportunities to talk about Mental Health in Black communities and to facilitate critical connections to diverse sources of support and care. 

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.