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May 19, 2012


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The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. NBJC's mission is to end racism and homophobia.

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It has already been an eventful month for our community and our nation as a whole. On May 9, President Obama affirmed his support for the freedom to marry. NBJC has been at the forefront ensuring that the media's representation of this historic moment is fair, accurate, balanced, and inclusive of voices at the intersection of the Black and LGBT communities.


Our movement for full equality is at a tipping point. We need your support and energy more than ever to keep the momentum going. Find out what's been keeping NBJC busy, learn how to take action, and stay in the know about news relevant to our community.


In this issue of the E-Digest: Black civil rights, religious and thought leaders commend President's Obama stance on marriage equality, North Carolina passes Amendment One, DC Mayor nominates two transgender women to the Human Rights Commission, a national survey documents and celebrates LGBT people of color, and more.


View NBJC on Fox 5 News  

darnellyoungExpelled Indiana Bullied Teen Beaten in Local Mall           

The Indianapolis Star     


When Darnell "Dynasty" Young, an openly gay Black student in Indianapolis, was expelled after wielding an electrical self-protection device in the air to scare off bullies who were threatening him with physical violence, NBJC immediately reached out to the family and issued a statement demanding that Arsenal Technical High School hold its administration accountable. After reporting the bullying to the school more than 10 times, Young's mother, Chelisa Grimes, said she gave him the device for protection because school authorities weren't doing enough.


To make matters worse, Young, 17, was recently attacked at a local mall. Khyran R. Delay, 34, has been identified as the assailant. Young and Donald Richardson, a janitor who witnessed the incident, told police that when Young walked past Delay's table in the food court, Delay told Young to get away from him and used homophobic slurs. They said that Delay pushed Young and then hit him in the face, according to court documents. Richardson said he radioed for mall security, and then Delay came toward him because he was mad that Richardson had called security. Security officers arrived and detained Delay. He has been charged with a misdemeanor count of battery.



Read NBJC's statement in support of Dynasty Young HERE

actionafroCast Your Vote Now: The AFRO Asks Readers to Weigh in on Obama and Marriage Equality              

–  AFRO      


The AFRO, a weekly publication for African Americans in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area, is asking readers "How will his declared position on [marriage equality] impact your support of a second term for President Obama?"


Vote at , then spread the word! Be sure to scroll down to see the banner on the right side of the website and make your voice heard.

actionnowedgePledge "No Wedge 2012": New Campaign Wants YOU to Stand in Solidarity with the Black Family

Groups like the so-called National Organization for Marriage are using "divide and conquer" strategies that manipulate religious sensibilities, and Black and Latino cultural identities to make marriage equality a defining wedge issue. The strategy of mobilizing Black voters based on the single issue of marriage equality is designed to divert attention from the real needs of Black America. We must proactively register, mobilize and turn out the Black vote. We stand together and say no to the wedge strategy, which seeks to both dismiss and divide us.


Take the NoWedge2012 pledge here: Encourage family, friends and community leaders to sign on!

eventgoodpitchGood Pitch New York


Thursday, May 24, 2012  

The Ford Foundation

320 East 43rd Street

New York, NY


The New Black, a documentary that uncovers the complicated histories of the African American and LGBT civil rights movements, features NBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks as one of its main subjects. The film will be screened at the Good Pitch, a one-day live event first imagined by the BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program in 2008. The Good Pitch brings together filmmakers with foundations, NGOs, campaigners, philanthropists, policy makers, brands and media around leading social issues – to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all these partners, good for the films and good for society. Six to eight filmmaking teams will pitch their film and associated outreach campaign to the assembled audience with the aim of creating a unique coalition around each film to maximize its impact and influence.




Friday, May 25 – Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Warehouse Theatre   

1021 7th Street NW   

Washington, DC  


She'Baltimore, a new play by Ira Kip, illustrates the lives of two Baltimore natives, living together and dealing with the complexities of their romantic relationship. Their issues are deeply rooted in past traumas and family histories, combined with the challenges of their present day circumstances. She'Baltimore seeks to ignite conversation about an issue often ignored by society, and especially the LGBT community — domestic violence. NBJC is a proud sponsor of the event!


For tickets, visit  

 eventwomenProvincetown Women of Color Weekend



Thursday, May 31 –

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Crown and Anchor

247 Commercial Street

Provincetown, MA



Join hundreds of LGBT women of color, their friends, families, and supporters in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Events include a writer's workshop, wine tasting, pool party, jazz brunch and more.


For more information, visit

obamaendorseObama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

– The Root

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, says that his new position goes beyond politics.


"This was a moment of personal conviction, a moment of trying to help the country get beyond itself," Lettman-Hicks told The Root. "It's clear that the president realizes the noise is not going to go away, and that responsible leadership was needed at this critical time.


"I would rather support a person who can stand up for others despite the political risks. I'm proud that, at a time when there is so much anxiety over the advancement of LGBT equality, my president would exude courageous leadership to recognize that there is nothing more important than human dignity."



ebonymagGAME ON: Obama Endorses

Gay Marriage, Fires Up

Progressive Base 



"My president is so awesome that, with everything at stake, he's willing to put justice and human dignity over political expediency," National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks told … "We're one step closer to standing as one people in these United States of America."


ssmadvocateMore From Pols, Activists on Obama Marriage Statement     

The Advocate     

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition: "It is an honor to witness our President take such a strong stand in support of gay and lesbian couples across the country. This affirmation reinforces the Administration's ongoing commitment to LGBT Americans and our families. As my (s)hero, Barbara Jordan, once said, 'one thing is clear to me: we, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.' Here is President Obama, the nation's first Black president, taking a position that no sitting president in history has had the fortitude to ever take. If anyone in America has ever wondered what courageous leadership looks like, here it is."

opedOP-ED: The Fight for LGBT Equality Continues: N.C. Passes Amendment One; Obama endorses marriage equality

– New York Amsterdam News


The reality is that in order to advocate for advancement of the Black community as a whole, Black Americans must be at the forefront of advocating for Black LGBT people. Otherwise, radical right-wing groups like NOM-which have no interest in supporting Black America's priority issues such as education, unemployment and poverty-will continue to pimp Black people for their own gain. As in North Carolina, vague constitutional bans like Amendment One will end up having just as great and grave implications for Black heterosexual unmarried couples and children as they do for Black gay and lesbian families.





atlantictensionsTensions Between Black and Gay Groups Rise Anew in Advance of Anti-Gay Marriage Vote in N.C. 

– The Atlantic 


With prominent African Americans, including President Obama and former Charlotte mayor and Jesse Helms opponent Harvey Gantt, publicly opposing Amendment 1, black gay leaders such as Sharon Lettman-Hicks aren't surprised at its waning popularity.


"While some black clergy have been pulled into this debate, our black churches are smarter than that," said Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC).


"They won't simply be used as pawns to push NOM's hate."




gaynewitIs Gay the New It?  

– The Intersection


NBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper and International Federation of Black Prides President Earl Fowlkes weighed in on what it means to be at the intersection of Black and LGBT. "The Intersection" is a fresh, new and innovative interactive HD online radio program.  




logolegalizeLogo Premieres "Legalize Gay" Documentary 

– Logo TV


The Logo documentary "Legalize Gay" takes a look inside of the LGBT movement and the brave individuals behind it. The film features NBJC Senior Fellow Je-Shawna Wholley who discusses the work she did while at Spelman College and as president of Afrekete, the school's LGBT student union. Wholley is joined by her mother and Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, founding director of the Spelman College Women's Research and Resource Center.  



glsenGLSEN Student of Color Organizing Summit (SOCO) in Baltimore    

On April 27 – 29, NBJC Senior Fellow Je-Shawna Wholley, NBJC Emerging Leader Tia Gilmore and NBJC Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) members Samantha Master and Antonio Williams hosted two workshops at the GLSEN Student of Color Organizing Summit (SOCO) in Baltimore, MD. The workshops, titled "Sustainability in the Movement" and "Racial Inclusivity Surrounding LGBTQI Students of Color," focused on self-care as an activist and the importance of creating safe spaces for students. Samantha Master, the newest NBJC LAC member, also served as the event's keynote speaker.


bidenNBJC Dines With Vice President Joe Biden


NBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks and her husband, Alvin Hicks, joined Vice President Joe Biden for breakfast on Friday, May 11. "I was humbled to be invited to this prestigious event at the home of the Vice President of the United States," said Lettman-Hicks. "It was an honor to engage with Vice President Biden as well as other African American leaders in such an intimate setting. I'm grateful to the Vice President for opening his home and for his commitment to LGBT equality."


equalityforumNBJC Brings the Black LGBT Lens to Equality Forum's National Racial Panel in Philadelphia      


Earlier this month, NBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks served as moderator on the National Racial Panel at Equality Forum's 20th Anniversary Global LGBT Summit. Sharon kicked off the discussion with an energizing introduction. The panelists who represented various people of color communities explored the importance of visibility, discrimination in the workplace, HIV/AIDS awareness and more. The room was filled with Black, white, Latino, and Asian LGBT brothers and sisters who all weighed in on the lively discussion.  


purpleweekendNational Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Pink and Purple Weekend    


During the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Pink and Purple Weekend, a celebration of the diversity of the LGBT community and the leaders who push equality forward, NBJC's Sharon Lettman-Hicks gave remarks during the Pink & Purple Recognition Award Brunch on behalf of Pariah writer/director Dee Rees. Rees was recognized for her work on the critically acclaimed film's portrayal of "coming out" as a young person of color.


fbidojNBJC Meets with FBI and Department of Justice Officials 


On May 8, NBJC led a discussion with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice to address prevention of hate crimes targeted at the LGBT population at HBCUs, and to identify opportunities to effectively address and respond to these incidents in a collaborative manner.  The next round of conversations will involve the serial attacks and murders against trans women of color.

groundbreakGroundbreaking Survey Documents and Celebrates LGBT People of Color        

Social Justice Sexuality Project    


The Social Justice Sexuality Project (SJS) is one of the largest ever national surveys of Black, Latina/o, and Asian and Pacific Islander, and multiracial lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. With over 5,000 respondents, the final sample includes respondents from all 50 states; Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico; in rural and suburban areas, in addition to large urban areas; and from a variety of ages, racial/ethnic identities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. The purpose of the SJS Project is to document and celebrate the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color. All too often, when we think about LGBT people of color, it's from a perspective of pathology. In contrast, the SJS Project is designed and dedicated to describing a more dynamic experience. NBJC Leadership Advisory Council member Dr. Juan Battle served as the principal investigator of this survey. NBJC is a proud partner of this groundbreaking survey.


joshdixonJosh Dixon Comes Out as Gay, Aims for Spot on Olympic Gymnastics Team         

– Outsports    


The United States has never had a publicly out male gymnast participate in the Olympics. Josh Dixon hopes to be the first. The Stanford grad took a big step toward that goal at the U.S. Men's Qualifier on May 5 in Colorado Springs, finishing second overall out of the 72 competitors. He also tied for wins in two events: floor exercise and high bar. It was a game-changing come-back performance for Dixon, who tore his Achilles tendon last spring. Now Dixon is talking about his personal life and sexual orientation publicly for the first time. Like charging at the vault, he's coming at it at full speed.


clergyAfrican American and Latino Clergy on Obama's Gay Marriage Support 

– Huffington Post   


A number of African American and Latino clergy have come out strongly in support of Obama's statement. While groups like National Organization for Marriage emphasize divisions between the black and gay communities, it is often overlooked that many identify as both African American or Latino and LGBT.


Support for marriage equality among African American and Latino groups has increased over the past few years. A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found that a majority of Latino Catholics and a third of black Protestants support marriage equality.



graynominatesGray Nominates Two Transgender Women to Human Rights Commission 

– Washington Blade   


Mayor Vincent Gray has nominated transgender activists Earline Budd and Alexandra Beninda for seats on the D.C. Commission on Human Rights.


If the two are confirmed by the City Council, as expected, they would become the first transgender persons to serve on the 15-member commission, which rules on discrimination complaints brought under the comprehensive D.C. Human Rights Act.



notfamuTwo Charged in Robert Champion's Hazing Death Not FAMU Students

– Orlando Sentinel 

At least two of the people charged with felony hazing in connection with the beating death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion last fall should not have been traveling with the band because they were not enrolled in FAMU or one of the nearby schools that would allow participation in the band, according to school records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.




Read NBJC's latest statement on the hazing death of Robert Champion, Jr.  


bowieBowie State Unveils First LGBT Resource Center at a Historically Black University

– The Sentinel


Bowie State University became the first historically black college or university to open a resource center on campus for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex students and their allies.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Allies Resource Center will offer students a library of LGBT educational materials, student meeting space, counseling services, workshops and programs to raise campus awareness about issues related to sexual orientation, according to a press release from the university.



pamshousePam's House Blend Weighs In on NC Amendment

– The Root  

Award-winning LGBT blogger and activist Pam Spaulding, of Pam's House Blend, has been fighting the good fight, keeping people informed about the real consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and communities of color, especially in North Carolina. The first out lesbian columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer's Durham News, Spaulding created Pam's House Blend in 2004 in response to the anti-gay political landscape.



Read NBJC's statement on North Carolina's passage of Amendment One.


blackenterpriseOpinion: Gay Rights are Civil Rights

Black Enterprise 

Black Enterprise's Carolyn Brown puts an end to the "Black vs. gay" debate. She writes: "No one is asking for anyone's permission to exist. That is a God-given right. But this is a fight about the right to exist without fear of persecution. In the same sentiment as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 'It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.'"





julianbondJulian Bond 'Excited' About Obama's Position

– Anderson Cooper 360 


Some say President Obama's support of same-sex marriage could hurt his approval among African Americans, but that may not necessarily be the case. Anderson Cooper speaks with former NAACP chairman Julian Bond, who says he thinks the tide is turning. "In African-American communities, like every other community in the country, the tide is shifting, people are thinking differently, younger people are saying these are old-fashioned ideas. … And I think President Obama is just going with the tide," said Bond.




openletterOpen Letter Embracing President Obama's Position On Equality for Gay & Lesbian Individuals

 National Action Network  

A coalition of black civil rights leaders signed their names to a document affirming their solidarity with President Barack Obama on marriage equality. Signees include Dr. Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition for Black Civic Engagement; Julian Bond of the NAACP; and Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network.





leadingoutLeading Out Loud: President Obama's Support Of Marriage Equality Moves Us Forward

– Essence


For almost two years we have been fortunate enough to bask in the glow of wedded bliss. We were so overjoyed with being able to legally wed in our home city that we framed our marriage license and used it as a guest book at our formal wedding ceremony. Our license now hangs prominently in the entrance of our home. Why? Because it's not just a piece of paper to us. We are bound by love and protected by law – well, at least in the 6 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal.





dysonRev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson on President Obama's Support of Marriage Equality



On Friday, May 11, Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, guest host of MSNBC's The Ed Show, challenged Black pastors who are critical of President Obama's historic endorsement of marriage equality."Black leaders of faith should not use the Bible to suppress the rights of LGBT community just like the Bible was used to suppress the rights of Black Americans," said Dyson.


If Black pastors tried to "take all the [gay people] out of the Black church, there wouldn't be a Black church," he added. "And I never heard of any pastors refusing tithes from gay people." Dyson joins numerous of Black pastors who have spoken out in support of the President's freedom to marry stance.





willsmithWill Smith Supports Barack Obama's Stance On Gay Marriage

– Huffington Post


Will Smith says he supports U.S. President Barack Obama's position on gay marriage. He told reporters in Berlin on Monday that "if anybody can find someone to love them and to help them through this difficult thing that we call life, I support that in any shape or form." Still, Smith says the president's support for gay marriage was a "brave" move in an election year.





jayzJay-Z Still Has Obama's Back

– CNN 


Jay-Z may not be "a huge fan of the [political] system," but the rapper remains a firm supporter of President Barack Obama.


The rapper said Monday in an interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow he knows little of GOP contender Mitt Romney, and considers Obama's announcement of support for states legalizing same-sex marriages to be a political plus.


"I've always thought it as something that was still, um, holding the country back," Jay-Z said of not allowing same-sex coupled to wed. "What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That's their business. [It] is no different than discriminating against blacks. It's discrimination plain and simple."






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.