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November 1, 2013




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Spurred by Activists, HBCUs Expand Their Services for Gay Students

National Coming Out Day: 'We Are Family'

Marco Rubio Blocks Black Gay Judge's Nomination To Federal Bench

Marco Rubio Blocks Black Gay Judge's Nomination on Dubious Grounds

NBJC Hosts 4th Annual OUT On The Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit  

One Million African-American Adults In The US Identify As LGBT

Black Federal Workers Bear Brunt of Federal Shutdown 

In Recognition Of Spirit Day: Using Words To Create Safe Environments

Booker wins special Senate election in New Jersey

New Jersey Transgender Woman Dies From Stab Wounds

What Obamacare Means For You – Young, Black, Gay & Covered

Detroit Baptist Leader Resigns After Announcing She Married A Woman

A Dream Deferred, But Not Denied: Many Faces. One Dream. New York City

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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.



hbcuactivistsSpurred by Activists, HBCUs Expand Their Services for Gay Students 

– The Chronicle of Higher Education


David Walter Banks for The Chronicle


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have long struggled with a reputation of being unwelcoming, if not overtly hostile, to gays and lesbians. It's a problem sometimes attributed to the conservative faiths that many students, and some of the institutions, are affiliated with.


So several years ago a group of HBCUs joined together to tackle the issue.


Their goal was to encourage senior administrators at black colleges to take concrete steps toward openness and equal protection by adding sexual orientation to nondiscrimination policies, integrating discussions of sexual orientation into relevant academic courses, and creating "safe spaces" and resource centers on campuses. Since the three-year project ended, in 2011, progress has been steady but slow, conversations with leaders of national advocacy groups and college administrators suggest.


ebonysharonNational Coming Out Day: 'We Are Family' 



In celebration of National Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to offering love and support for people who choose to live their authentic lives and "come out of the closet" as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, NBJC Executive Director Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks penned a poignant editorial for highlighting the importance of allies in the fight for LGBT equality.


"It's impossible for me to talk about the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality without talking about Black people and without talking about family. I am unapologetically a 'sistah' in the movement for full equality for my LGBT brothers and sisters. We need to realize that we have Black LGBT siblings, parents, aunties, uncles, and cousins among us. It isn't a metaphor for me. Our bloodline runs deep. We're in this together and there's no separating racial justice from LGBT equality in my world."


– The Huffington Post


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has withdrawn his support from a federal judicial nominee that he previously recommended — William Thomas, a gay black judge from Miami — and, to the anger and puzzlement of many, is preventing the nomination from moving forward at all.


Thomas would have made history, if confirmed, as the first openly gay black man to serve as a federal judge. Rubio initially recommended Thomas to President Barack Obama late last year as a nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. But something changed in recent months. Rubio withheld his consent for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on Thomas' nomination. It takes both home-state senators to sign off on a confirmation hearing, so without Rubio's approval, Thomas has been stuck in limbo.


"As a Floridian for more than 25 years, I am aghast by Senator Rubio's withdrawal of support for the nomination of Judge William Thomas," said Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks. "Senator Rubio's newfound opposition seems only to serve as a thinly-veiled mask for the racism and homophobia that permeates his tea party politics. This brand of political theatrics is unfit for the U.S. Senate, and is beneath the dignity of Judge Thomas."  



– Take Action News with Karl Frisch



During a recent taping of the progressive internet radio program "Take Action News with Karl Frisch," Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, spoke candidly about the thwarted nomination of openly gay Black judge William Thomas, whose nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has been stalled by Florida Senator Marco Rubio.


"You'll never rise in leadership if your soul is for sale," said Lettman-Hicks, speaking on Sen. Rubio's abrupt reversal of opinion on Judge Thomas' judicial qualifications.  


ooth2013NBJC Hosts 4th Annual OUT On The Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit

On September 18-22, hundreds of our nation's Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) leaders and activists from across the country gathered in the nation's capital for the National Black Justice Coalition's (NBJC) 4th annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit. OUT on the Hill attendees participated in an inspiring week of discussion, strategizing and organizing as well as educating congressional leaders and federal agencies about the public policy concerns of Black LGBT people.




This year, NBJC organized a robust agenda of several groundbreaking events, including a national town hall meeting to address the systemic policing of masculine identified women and trans men of color entitled "Shades of Masculinity."  NBJC also reconvened its Black LGBT Leaders Day at the White House, which included presentations from the Obama Administration.   In addition, our annual Issue Advocacy Day served as an opportunity for Black LGBT leaders to engage with their Members of Congress in an honest and educational dialogue about our community.


Business executive and diversity & inclusion expert Rosalyn Taylor O'Neale delivered a passionate keynote address focus on stressing the importance of "owning your power."  Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition teamed up with Earl Fowlkes, President and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, to present the "State of the Black LGBT Community" plenary session, focused on gathering some of the Black LGBT movement's brightest minds from the national scene to the grassroots to develop a political agenda for the Black LGBT community. Bishop O.C. Allen III, Founder and Senior Pastor at The Vision Church of Atlanta, helped close out the conference with an inspiring keynote address charging participants to "be more than just gay" in their lives and use their faith as a platform to fortify their entire beings.


Along with a special tribute to Bayard Rustin powered by reflections of his legacy from Emerging Leaders, OOTH 2013 closed with a series of engaging breakout sessions contributed directly from the community, including discussions about empowering and affirming churches; the inclusion of Black LGBT women in HIV and STD public health policies and programs, the legal realities of life after the death of DOMA, LGBTQ issues of the Caribbean, and more.



NBJC Emerging Leader and Point Foundation Scholar Noel Gordon summed up his experience at OOTH 2013:


"As a black, gay man, it's not often I get to be in a room with people who look and sound like me. But OUT on the Hill never disappoints. I always leave the conference feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. From expert panel discussions to impromptu dialogues outside the restroom, the National Black Justice Coalition knows how to bring Black LGBT people together in a way that no one else does."



onemillionOne Million African-American Adults In The US Identify As LGBT

– The Williams Institute


An estimated 1,018,700 (3.7 percent) of African-American adults consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) and 34 percent of African-American same-sex couples are raising children, according to a new report released by UCLA Williams Institute Scholars Angeliki Kastanis, Public Policy Research Fellow, and Gary J. Gates, Distinguished Scholar. The study, "LGBT African-American Individuals and African-American Same-Sex Couples," includes socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of African-American LGBT individuals and African-American same-sex couples in the U.S.



shutdownBlack Federal Workers Bear Brunt of Federal Shutdown



The gridlock that kept government workers home for most of October stemmed from a small band of House and Senate Republicans who used the latest budget process to try to defund the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which launched on October 1, 2013


According to various data sources, African-Americans represent approximately half of the minorities who were out of work.



spiritdayIn Recognition Of Spirit Day: Using Words To Create Safe Environments

– By Ammar Lee-Fowler and Maurice Jamal


In recognition of Spirit Day, a national day of awareness and action against bullying, award-winning filmmaker Maurice Jamal and his niece Ammar Lee-Fowler co-authored a moving essay speaking out on the importance of words in creating safe environments for LGBT youth. 


"As Spirit Day approached this year, it felt even more personal than it ever had before. As I thought about my role as an LGBT leader, I kept coming back to my role within my family. And before I knew it I found myself sitting down with my 16-year-old niece Ammar. Ammar just started her senior year, is an accomplished dancer, wants to study nursing and help kids in need. Like most girls her age, she's thinking about grades, boys and how to find her own voice. As a young, straight African-American teen I really wanted to get a sense of her experiences and thoughts around bullying."



bookerBooker Wins Special Senate Election in New Jersey



Cory Booker, the 44-year-old two-term Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey defeated his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, Wednesday, October 23, in a special U.S. Senate election.

"I'm going down to make the Senate more accessible to all of us. I will bring more voice to the voices too often ignored in our state. I will be dogged and determined, relentless and unfaltering in my sense of service for all of New Jersey," said Booker from a victory rally at his election headquarters in Newark.


Booker was officially sworn in today, Oct. 31, becoming the first Black U.S. Senator ever elected from New Jersey, and one of only two Black individuals serving in the United States Senate today.



cherylclarkeA Tribute to Cheryl Clarke: A Retrofuturespective


On Friday, October 4, Je-Shawna Wholley, NBJC's Programs and Outreach Associate, participated on a panel during the one day symposium entitled: Cheryl Clarke: A Retrofuturespective at Rutgers University. This tribute to the Black lesbian writer and activist Cheryl Clarke was the brain child of cultural critics and grassroots activists Darnell Moore, Dr. Alexis Pauline-Gumbs and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan alongside Steven Fullwood, assistant curator and archivist at the historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


The forum provided an opportunity for attendees to delve into the past to see just how far Black LGBT community and thought has come, as well as make note of where we are headed. Presenters read passages from Clarke's work, as well as shared stories of how her legacy and writing has impacted their activism, perspective and identity in moving ways.  


fayettevilleFayetteville State University Hosts Grand Re-opening of Safe Zone Center

l to r: name TBD, Emily Lenning, Ph.D, Student Affairs Safezone Consultant, Fayetteville State University; Je-Shawna Wholley, Program and Outreach Associate, National Black Justice Coalition; Samantha Master, Youth & Campus Engagement Assistant, Human Rights Campaign; James A. Anderson, Chancellor, Fayetteville State University

On Friday, October 11, Je-Shawna Wholley, NBJC's Program and Outreach Associate, joined the students, faculty, staff and community members of Fayetteville State University in North Carolina as they re-opened the doors to their LGBT Safe Zone Center. Speakers at the event included members from the Student Government Association, the Safe Zone Coordinator and the Chancellor of the University. All expressed pride in being the third HBCU in the nation to open a LGBT center.


The FSU Safe Zone Center will not only serve as a meeting space for the LGBT student group on campus, but will also be the office that facilitates safe zone trainings for students, faculty and higher level administration.


NBJC is proud to support the development and delivery of culturally competent administrative, faculty, student and staff support services for the LGBT people on HBCU campuses. It is with this in mind that we were happy to join the FSU family as they celebrated this accomplishment.


virginiatechVirginia Tech Conducts Needs Assessment Strategic Planning Workshop


In order to better understand LGBT issues at Virginia Tech and in the New River Valley area, a group of students, community members, faculty and staff were recruited to participate in a 2-part strategic planning needs assessment workshop. This initiative was spearheaded by Monica Motely, NBJC Emerging Leader and Point Foundation Scholar. Additionally, Je-Shawna Wholley, NBJC's Programs and Outreach Associate, served as one of the facilitators to help participants identify, prioritize and select areas of interest for potential initiative development. Ultimately, the information from this workshop will be used to enhance collaborative efforts to more effectively address LGBT issues and progress on Virginia Tech's campus and within the community.


nccentralNBJC Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks Speaks at North Carolina Central University


On Friday, October 25, Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, NBJC's Executive Director and CEO, and Mandy Carter, legendary lesbian activist and a NBJC founder, met with LGBT student leaders, allies and campus administrators at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) to learn more about their new LGBTA Center and their on-going efforts to create a welcoming environment on campus for LGBT students. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally (LGBTA) Center in the Alfonso Elder Student Union at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) opened on April 9, making NCCU only the second HBCU in the nation to dedicate a center to the LGBT community, and the first HBCU in North Carolina to do so.


Lettman-Hicks and Carter toured the new LGBTA Center, and met with members of COLORS (Creating Open Lives for Real Success), the NCCU student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied students, staff, faculty and alumni, facilitating a discussion on how the NCCU community can make an increased effort to address the challenges faced by students, faculty and staff on HBCU campuses.


newjerseywomanNew Jersey Transgender Woman Dies From Stab Wounds 

– Elixher


A trans woman found stabbed at her home by the New Brunswick, New Jersey police died from her injuries at a hospital late September.  The police later arrested the woman's roommate, Devonte Scott, and charged him with murder. His bail has been set at $1 million dollars.


domesticviolenceOctober Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Now Is The Time For Awareness Within LGBTQ Communities of Color 

– The Huffington Post


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but there is not enough attention, education, intervention, and advocacy around this issue in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities of color. Surveys indicate that 25 to 33 percent of the LGBTQ population will experience some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted in 2010, found that LGBTQ communities of color are one of the demographic groups experiencing particularly high incidences of IPV.



marriagenjSame Sex Marriage Is Now Legal in New Jersey – What Does This Mean? 

– The Huffington Post


New Jersey has officially become the 14th state in the country to recognize same-sex marriages. During the month of September 2013, a judge ruled that New Jersey had to recognize same-sex marriages starting October 21, 2013.  The administration of Governor Chris Christie appealed and asked for a delay in the implementation date.  The state Supreme Court said unanimously that it would not delay the start of the nuptials. They began on Monday, October 21, and hours later, a Christie spokesman said the appeal would be dropped.


clergyILAfrican-American Clergy Come Together To Support Gay Marriage In Illinois

– ABC Local 7, Chicago


The fight for recognition of same-sex marriage is heating up in Illinois, where a new group of Black clergy is putting pressure on African-Americans in the state legislature to back a measure during the fall veto session that would legalize gay marriage throughout the state:


"Same-sex marriage may be on the legislative agenda when lawmakers return to Springfield next week for the fall veto session. Many groups backing gay marriage in Illinois are putting pressure on their representatives, especially in the African-American community."


marriageNMNew Mexico High Court Hears Arguments In Same Sex Marriage Battle

– Reuters


The New Mexico Supreme Court began hearing arguments on Wednesday, October 23 on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed in a state where such unions are, for the time being, neither expressly recognized nor prohibited by law.  Stepping into an intensifying and often bitter national debate over same-sex matrimony, the court agreed last month to settle the matter for New Mexico as a whole after some counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.


Currently eight New Mexico counties allow gay couples to marry, and more than 900 couples have filed for same-sex marriage licenses since clerks in those jurisdictions started issuing them in recent months, some voluntarily and some under court order.


obamacareWhat Obamacare Means For You – Young, Black, Gay & Covered 

– The Advocate



Statistics show that LGBTQ and Black Americans have been discriminated against by the health care system for years. This means that even though Black LGBTQ people suffer from higher rates of chronic disease than other populations, we don't automatically seek medical attention.  Now, with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in effect as of October 1, 2013, we can proactively take control of our health. Obamacare will bring access to health care to our communities and help build a more diverse, culturally competent medical workforce that is ready to address our health concerns.



baptistresignsDetroit Baptist Leader Resigns After Announcing She Married A Woman

– The Huffington Post


Facing a backlash from conservatives in her congregation, a noted Christian leader in Detroit resigned from her church earlier this month after announcing she had married a woman.

Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams stepped down from Zion Progress Baptist Church, where she had served for five years as its first female pastor. Her announcement from the pulpit earlier this month that she had married a woman stunned many local Baptists.

Abrams' resignation came just days after the U.S. District Court in Michigan took up a challenge to the Michigan Marriage Act that bans same sex marriage.


"It really hurts me because I don't want to be the reason for the church to split, and potentially for family members to be at odds with one another," Bishop Abrams said. "Therefore, I felt that it was in the best interest of everyone to resign."



mfodnycA Dream Deferred, But Not Denied: Many Faces. One Dream.  New York City


Due to the government shut down that took over the month of October, NBJC's previously scheduled NYC Many Faces. One Dream. (MFOD) LGBT Economic Empowerment Tour for Communities of Color that was scheduled for October 20-22, 2013 has been rescheduled.


The Many Faces. One Dream. LGBT Economic Empowerment Tour for Communities of Color will be held on November 20-21, 2013 at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, located at 333 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. The public can register at


"Despite this setback, we are determined to own our power, and have rescheduled the NYC leg of the tour for late November now that our government has resolved its issues in the short-term," said Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks.




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.