NBJC Announces HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative Advisory Council Co-Chairs
NBJC is honored to announce its HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative Advisory Council Co-chairs: Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D of Spelman College and Anika Simpson, Ph.D. of Morgan State University. The Advisory Council was created to advise and assist NBJC in developing a strategic model that conceptualizes the critical path forward to ensure a welcoming, nurturing and affirming environment at HBCUs for the LGBTQ community.
The creation of the of NBJC’s HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative was inspired by the Arcus Foundation-funded Audre Lorde Black Lesbian Feminist Project, 2006-2011, at Spelman College. The overall objectives of the Audre Lorde Project were: to increase public awareness and understanding about African American LGBTQ experiences at HBCUs; to increase awareness about the marginalization of racial issues in the LGBTQ movement and queer studies; and to facilitate a climate of institutional change that acknowledges, values and respects difference, especially within particular academic contexts.
The co-chairs serve as the foundation of the HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Advisory Council, and provide guidance and strategies to fulfill NBJC's commitment to build and implement public policies that foster institutions of learning to ensure that all people are fully-empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly within their campus community, regardless of race, class, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation.
HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative
Advisory Council Co-Chairs
Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Founding Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center, and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D. is an alumna of Spelman College, and serves as the founding director of its Women’s Research and Resource Center for the past 40 years and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies. Under her leadership, the Women’s Research and Resource Center (The Women’s Center) hosted the first HBCU summit on LGBTQ issues and is the repository for the Audre Lorde Papers.
In 2006, the Women’s Center received a one year grant from the Arcus Foundation to launch Breaking the Silence: The Audre Lorde Black Lesbian Feminist Project. The project was named in honor of Audre Lorde, one of the most significant and influential Black, lesbian feminist/writer/activist/educators of the 20th century. This important project, the first of its kind on a historically Black college campus, was part of a larger effort to establish a LGBTQ program within the Women’s Center at Spelman College.
In September 2008, Spelman College held a major symposium on the life and work of Audre Lorde, in connection with our launching of an endowment campaign for the Women’s Center which was made possible by a major leadership gift of $1 million from the Ford Foundation. The symposium explored a range of issues related to Black gay and lesbian experiences by a racially diverse cross-section of academics, activists, and students from the United States and globally.
From the outset, Guy-Sheftall conceptualized that the project was to be Phase I of a larger project surrounding LGBTQ issues at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and was pleased to attract additional major funding from the Arcus Foundation for a three year project, 2008-2011: The Audre Lorde Project Phase II, Facilitating HBCU Campus Climates of Pluralism, Inclusivity and Progressive Change. Phase II broadened and deepened the initial Audre Lorde Project through research, outreach, and advocacy activities at selected HBCUs that culminated in an historic HBCU Policy Summit in April 2011 held at Spelman in Atlanta, Georgia.
The unveiling of the Audre Lorde Papers, the most comprehensive documentation of Lorde’s life and work as a Black lesbian feminist writer/poet/writer/educator, were willed to Spelman College by Audre Lorde during Johnnetta Betsch Cole’s presidency (1987-1997), and are part of the Special Collections of the Spelman Archives, the research component of the Women’s Center.
Dr. Guy-Sheftall has published numerous texts within African American and Women’s Studies which include but are not limited to, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1979), Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880-1920 (Carlson, 1991) Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (New Press, 1995) and Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality (Indiana University Press, 2001). She has been involved with the national women’s studies movement since its inception and provided leadership for the establishment of the first women’s studies major at a historically Black college and also has served as the past president of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).
Beyond the academy, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations which include the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Council for Research on Women, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, on whose boards she serves. In her role as Director of Spelman’s Women’s Center, she has also been involved with the development of student activism around misogynist images of Black women in hip hop as well as a broad range of social justice issues, including reproductive rights and violence against women.
Dr. Anika Simpson, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University, and Coordinator of MSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program
Anika Simpson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University (MSU). She serves as the coordinator of MSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program, which was established under her leadership in 2009. She is also the co-chair of MSU President David Wilson’s LGBTQA Advisory Council. A graduate of Spelman College, Dr. Simpson is deeply committed to the mission of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)—providing rigorous and nurturing educational experiences for every student, including the ones society has marginalized and excluded.
As a queer Black feminist, Dr. Simpson supports and advances racial equality, women’s rights, and LGBTQ equality through advocacy, education and scholarship. She has successfully fostered institutional change around LGBTQ diversity through the cultivation of partnerships with leaders both at Morgan State and within local and national organizations focused on LGBTQ advocacy.
During her tenure as coordinator, the Women’s and Gender Studies program launched its biannual Intersections conference with the expressed goals of supporting academic scholarship in the field of sexuality studies and modeling inclusive spaces for LGBTQ constituents at HBCUs. Morgan State is the only HBCU to convene a recurring conference that focuses exclusively upon the intersections of sexuality studies, race and gender.
Dr. Simpson speaks regularly at local and national conferences and promotes awareness of social justice issues through media appearances. Her publications focus on black feminism, African American philosophy and sexuality, and include “Black Philosophy and the Erotic” in The Black Scholar and “Race and Feminist Standpoint Theory” in Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy.
Dr. Simpson resides in Washington, DC with her two daughters.