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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.
Today, July 2, 2014, marks the 50th Anniversary of the historic signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This landmark legislation freed Black Americans, in particular, and all people of color in our nation who had been shackled by a century of racist oppression under America's Jim Crow laws. Passage of the Civil Rights Act came only after a collective movement of people whose selfless purpose initiated organizing to defeat racial injustice and moving a majority of Americans to support a free and open society for all people, no matter their background.
This collective movement was highlighted that same summer in 1964 through the campaign known as Freedom Summer, which was led by civil rights organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (or SNCC). Freedom Summer recruited over 700 college students – mostly white students from the North – to travel to Mississippi and help register Black Americans to vote. The organizers, the students and the Black people trying to become active citizens in their democracy were all risking their lives, a measure of how pervasive and dangerous racism was at the time.
In 2014, we continue to witness the struggle for civil rights for all people–including LGBT people–play out on the national and international scenes. We have seen major gains in the movement for marriage equality in our nation, yet many vital issues for minority communities are left unaddressed, including workplace protection, comprehensive health care for LGBT people, and immigration reform. For Black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving (SGL) people, our voices still remain marginalized in the modern fight for equality through the expansion of civil rights. It is in this spirit that the National Black Justice Coalition presents our Emancipation Campaign pre-launch edition of NBJC's E-Digest, which highlights key moments in Black LGBTQ/SGL history in 2014. For far too long, Black LGBTQ/SGL people and our families have been relegated to the sidelines, and it is now our moment to claim our destiny!
Starting next week, NBJC will embark upon its first-ever Emancipation Campaign: a rigorous fundraising effort to highlight the defining moments of our movement for equity and equality, and to elevate the support we receive as a national civil rights organization from our constituents and supporters, like you. During this summer, NBJC's Emancipation Campaign will ask our community to pledge sustainable financial support to NBJC in order to empower Black LGBT people and our families everywhere. When we embrace our resilient history as change agents in our world and move forward with the collective motivation to own our destiny by investing in our movement, we will then reach our EMANCIPATION!
Did You Miss The New Black?
Don't Worry, You Can Still Catch It!
Don't miss this incredible film that tells the story of marriage equality through a Black family perspective. From church pews to the streets to kitchen tables, The New Black follows the African-American community as it grapples with the gay rights issue in light of the recent same-sex marriage movement.The film follows the struggle over marriage equality in the state of Maryland, where the battle for the hearts and minds of black voters – almost a third of the electorate – is fought from the pulpit. To find out where it's playing, visit HERE. To find out more about the film, visit HERE.
Senate Confirms Attorney Staci Yandle & Judge Darrin Gayles to the Federal Bench
– Washington Blade
On, June 17, 2014, the Senate confirmed Attorney Staci Yandle and Judge Darrin Gayles to become federal judges on the U.S. District Courts in Illinois and Florida, respectively. Ms. Yandle, a practicing attorney for over 20 years, will be the second Black, openly lesbian judge confirmed to the federal bench. Judge Gayles will become the nation's first Black, openly gay male to serve on the federal bench.
HBCUs Challenged to Address LGBT, Diversity Issues
– Diverse Education
Historically Black colleges and universities have to do a much better job in tending to the needs of their LGBT students, according to the head of one of the nation's largest civil rights organizations, whose mission is to eliminate racism and homophobia.
Sharon H. Lettman-Hicks, executive director and chief executive officer for the National Black Justice Coalition (NJBC), challenged HBCU college presidents to be more proactive in helping to eliminate bias against the LGBT community on their campuses.
"The public eye is on HBCUs," she said during a keynote address at the 2014 HBCU Student Success Summit sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). "We have to stop otherizing our LGBT community."
NBJC Applauds President Obama's Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers
On June, 16, 2014, the White House announced President Obama's intention to sign an executive order that could protect as many as 16 million workers, or one-fifth of the entire U.S. labor force, by prohibiting all companies who contract with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The signing of this executive order is the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in the nation's history. Currently, in 29 states, a person can be fired from their employment on the basis of their sexual orientation, and in 32 states, transgender people have no protections from being fired because of their gender identity.
PRIDE MONTH Special Feature: Black OUT Women in Sports
This year marks the 18th year of play for the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). In an effort to celebrate inclusion and equality, while combating anti-LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) bias, the WNBA will be the first professional sports league to establish an integrated marketing, media, grassroots and social responsibility program for the LGBTQ community, including a new special site- WNBA.com/pride. The site includes league and team PRIDE content, events and schedules, which will be updated throughout the season. Information will also be shared on the league's social media channels where the content will be aggregated with the hashtag #wnbapride.
The State of Black LGBT People & Their Families
While the America we live in today is more tolerant and accepting than decades and centuries past, we still have a long and arduous road ahead. Despite false claims that we live in a "post-racial" society, African Americans still face prejudice and systemic racism regularly. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people still combat discrimination and are denied access to basic protections. When you exist at these intersectional identities, simply trying to provide for yourself and your family becomes a battlefield. At the National Black Justice Coalition, we have been fighting for over a decade to help LGBT African Americans live fully empowered, authentic lives. We know that Black LGBT people can struggle to find acceptance not only in mainstream America, but also within their own LGBT and African American communities. Now we have the figures to back up what we witness firsthand daily.
A Reality Check From Uganda
Our movement for full equality for LGBT people continues to gain momentum. We've seen tremendous strides in terms of marriage equality (a total of 17 states now grant the freedom to marry) and most recently with the increased visibility of black LGBT public figures. But Uganda's current crisis and the close call in Arizona remind us that we must remain vigilant-that despite the many trails being blazed, we are still very much in the heat of the battle and all is not won yet.
NBJC Honors the Life and Legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) honors the life and legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou, who passed away this morning at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the age of 86. She was a teacher, dancer, artist, poet, activist, and most importantly, a phenomenal woman who taught the world how to live their authentic truth by embracing both tragedies and triumphs in life. It is through her enduring and thought-provoking works that we are forever inspired to "still rise" no matter our circumstances or challenges.
Black LGBT civil rights leader condemns Donald Sterling's 'hate-fueled speech' against Magic Johnson
The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation's leading Black LGBT civil rights organization, strongly condemns the hate-fueled and offensive speech of Donald Sterling. Read what they have to say.
On May 13, Donald Sterling, the embattled owner of the LA Clippers, sat down for an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper to attempt damage control after a recording of racist rants by him were leaked to the media two weeks ago. In the interview with CNN, Sterling went back and forth, sporadic at times, denying that he is a racist. But the most egregious part of the interview came when Sterling blasted NBA Hall of Famer and businessman, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. He went on to say that Johnson is not a good example for children because he is HIV positive.
Laverne Cox Talks to TIME about the Transgender Movement
About 1,100 people, many gleefully defying gender stereotypes, eventually pack the auditorium to hear the story of an unlikely icon. "I stand before you this evening," Laverne Cox, who stars in the Netflix drama Orange Is the New Black, tells the crowd, "a proud, African-American transgender woman." The cheers are loud and long.
Wade Davis working to Help Michael Sam
– News Tribune
As an NFL cornerback, Wade Davis was signed by the Tennessee Titans, the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins. But this season, he will be rooting for a different team. "I don't generally root for teams because I just like players, but I may closetly become a Rams fan this season," Davis said. Maybe it's because he played for Rams coaches Jeff Fisher, Gregg Williams and Chuck Cecil in Tennessee. Perhaps it's because a teammate of Davis' from Weber State, John Fassel, is the special teams coordinator in St. Louis.
Susan Rices Criticizes Russia, Others of LGBT Record
– Washington Blade
National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Tuesday criticized several countries, including Russia, for their treatment of LGBT citizens during a White House forum on international LGBT issues. Rice also singled out Uganda and Nigeria over draconian anti-gay laws that took effect in those countries earlier this year.
Black Voices Bloggers on National HIV Testing Day & Social Media
"This month marks my 7th year of living with HIV. I found out I was HIV positive on June 7, 2007 after receiving a positive diagnosis during an attempt to enlist into the United States Army. After I found out I was devastated, but also determined to survive and THRIVE. In order to do this, I knew I needed to manage my HIV and take control of my health. Taking this HIV test was the first step to making sure I remained healthy. Seven years later, I am still healthy with my HIV undetectable."
Alabama Anti-Sodomy Law Is Unconstitutional, Appeals Court Rules
– Huffington Post
An Alabama appeals court has thrown out a law prohibiting consensual homosexual intercourse, declaring it to be unconstitutional. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruling, issued last Friday, came in the case of an Alabama man found guilty of engaging in consensual sex with another man in 2010 and sentenced to a year in jail. The decision cited a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law.
Another Major Victory in the Fight Against Stop and Frisk
– Huffington Post
A New York state judge has upheld a law making it easier for citizens to sue police officers performing unlawful stop and frisks based on race. "This law provides an important opportunity for New Yorkers who are subject to racial profiling or other discriminatory behavior the opportunity to vindicate their rights," State Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh wrote in her decision Wednesday.
Pressure to be Macho Puts Black Gay Men at Risk for HIV Transmission
Social and cultural pressures to adopt masculine norms — to act, to walk, to talk and to be as masculine as possible — cause young, black gay men extreme psychological distress and isolation, which can cause them to engage in "high-risk" behavior that can result in HIV transmission, according to research led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and newly published in the American Journal of Public Health. Often, these behaviors occur because young, black gay men are seeking approval and acceptance. However, these high-risk behaviors have resulted in young, black gay and bisexual men accounting for 4,800 new HIV infections in 2010 — about 10% of all the infections in the U.S., and more than twice that of either young white or young Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Black Is The New Gay
– Huffington Post
I had an eye-opening conversation with my friend Rob Smith this week. We met in Washington, D.C, where Rob was in town to give a speech at the Department of Energy. Rob is an Iraq War veteran who has written a riveting book about his experiences in the army. He's also Black and gay. I first met Rob a few years ago when he was just getting started as a writer and had submitted an essay for my 2012 anthology For Colored Boys. When I saw him Wednesday night, he had just returned from Key West, Fla., where he'd served as grand marshal for the city's annual LGBT pride parade.
FAMU Adopts LGBT Protections
The FAMU Board of Trustees today added sexual orientation and gender identity to the university's non-discrimination policy. The move drew strong praise from Equality Florida as an important step toward creating a welcoming and inclusive campus.
Vernita Gray, Illinois Gay Rights Activist Dies
– ABC News
Vernita Gray, a gay rights activist who wed her partner in Illinois' first same-sex marriage, has died at age 65. Gray died late Tuesday, March 18, 2014 of cancer at the same Chicago home where she married Patricia Ewert in late November, family friend Jim Bennett told The Associated Press. Bennett was among friends who were gathered at the home when Gray died.
House Music Pioneer Frankie Knuckles Passes Away
Frankie Knuckles – nicknamed the Godfather of house music – recently passed away at 59. Knuckles was famous for tracks such as 1987's "Your Love" and 1991's "The Whistle Song". He was he was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Chicago Gay &Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996.
Derrick Gordon Becomes The 1st Openly Gay NCAA Division 1 Player
Derrick Gordon, a sophomore starter for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team, stepped forward Wednesday as the first openly gay player in Division I men's college basketball, sharing his story with ESPN and Outsports. The 22-year-old shooting guard came out to his family, coaches and teammates in just a few days at the beginning of April. That's when he also decided to publicly acknowledge his sexuality.
Sotomayor Accuses Supreme Court of Trying to Wish Away Racial Inequality
Justice Sonia Sotomayor's fierce defense of the affirmative action efforts such as the ones that helped move her from a Bronx housing project to the upper echelons of American law found renewed voice Tuesday in an impassioned dissent that accused colleagues of trying to "wish away" racial inequality – and drew a tart response from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
The Space in Between: Engaging Queer & Trans People of Color
– The Ohio State University
NBJC facilitated a two hour workshop for faculty, staff and community members at Ohio State University February 10 – 12, 2014. The workshop was conducted to address the lack of diversity on campus and how this key factor makes addressing issues with an intersectional lens almost impossible. The presentation was well received and attendees were invested and engaged in the robust discussion.
Global Day of Action: NBJC Stands in Support of LGBT Nigerians
On January 14, 2014, Nigeria passed into law a bill that criminalizes same sex relationships, and imposes a 14 year prison sentence for LGBT Nigerians. Since the passage of the law, a number of people have been arrested and mob violence against LGBT people in Nigeria has increased. Because of this inhumane law, the Nigerian LGBT community and their friends, families and allies live in an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. On March 7, 2014, NBJC joined the world in the Global Day of Action to stand against violent and legalized homophobia, social injustice and systematic violation of fundamental human rights. NBJC Staffers visited the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC rallying against the anti-LGBT law that has ostracized the LGBTQ Nigerian community.
Black Youth Project Princeton Convening: Leadership, Strategy and Training Retreat
NBJC's Programs Manager, Je-Shawna Wholley travelled to Princeton, NJ March 7 – 10, 2014 for Black Youth Project's Leadership, Strategy & Training retreat. It was an opportunity for BYP 100 members to share best practices as it pertains to mobilizing and organizing.
NBJC Participates in Inaugural Department of Justice's Transgender Law Enforcement Training
On March 27, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service (CRS) previewed their new transgender cultural professionalism training for law enforcement. "Transgender Law Enforcement Training" was developed over the past year with input from transgender advocates, officers and law enforcement leadership from around the country. CRS will offer the training to local police departments via their regional offices. The training includes suggestions for confronting bullying in schools as well as lists of do's – such as asking a person for his or her preferred gender pronoun – and don'ts, such as using the term "transvestite" or asking whether the person has had sex-change surgery. As a community partner of CRS, NBJC is proud to support this effort to ensure our nation's law enforcement is equipped with the tools to interact with the trans community in a safe and respectful manner.
NBJC Attends Screening of The Out List with Janet Mock
Team NBJC attended a special screening of "The Out List" on Capitol Hill on April 1. Through the voices of Americans from all walks of life, "The Out List" explores the identities of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in America. In this series of intimate interviews, a diverse group of LGBT personalities bring color and depth to their experiences of gender and sexuality. With wit and wisdom, this set of trailblazing individuals weaves universal themes of love, loss, trial, and triumph into the determined struggle for full equality.
NBJC's Executive Director and Pastor Delman Coates at "The New Black" Screening
On Thursday, April 3, 2014 NBJC partnered with the Women's and Gender Studies program at Morgan State University to bring "The New Black" to campus for a special screening. This highly anticipated screening of the film was followed by a conversation between two central figures in the film: NBJC's Executive Director & CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, and Rev. Delman Coates, Senior Pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church. The conversation was moderated by Samantha Master (also featured in the film), Youth and Campus Outreach Assistant at the Human Rights Campaign and a Morgan State University student. The dialogue focused on the role of the African American community in the movement for equality in America. Topics ranged from homophobia in the Black church and steps to empower Black LGBT people.
Obama Advances Transgender Rights Without Fanfare
President Barack Obama, who established his bona fides as a gay and lesbian rights champion when he endorsed same-sex marriage, has steadily extended his administration's advocacy to the smallest and least accepted band of the LGBT rainbow: transgender Americans. With little of the fanfare or criticism that marked his evolution into the leader Newsweek nicknamed "the first gay president," Obama became the first chief executive to say "transgender" in a speech, to name transgender political appointees and to prohibit job bias against transgender government workers. Also in his first term, he signed hate crime legislation that became the first federal civil rights protections for transgender people in U.S. history.
Meet Blake, 17, From Charlotte, North Carolina
We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth in the United States. Through photographic portraits and "as told to" interviews in the participants' own voices, We Are the Youth captures the incredible diversity and uniqueness among the LGBTQ youth population.
Transgender Musician Tona Brown Says Black People Have 'Far Less Space' In LGBT Community
Tona Brown, who's set to break fresh ground as the first-ever transgender person of color to take the stage at Carnegie Hall, spoke at length about the challenges of identifying as LGBTQ in the African-American community as part of her HuffPost Live interview this week.
Trans Woman in Florida Found Burned to Death
On Thursday, June 19, 2014 Fort Myers, Fla., police uncovered the burnt remains of 31-year-old transgender woman Yaz'min Shancez. Shancez was discovered behind a garbage bin at a rental facility located at 2807 Fowler Street in Fort Myers.
Insurance Companies Ordered to Stop Denying Gender-Reassignment Surgery in DC
Insurance companies in the District of Columbia have been ordered to stop denying coverage to transgender residents seeking gender-reassignment surgery. Mayor Vincent Gray says the new rules will end health-care discrimination against the transgender population and put "the district at the forefront of advancing the rights of transgender individuals." The District joins five states that guarantee such coverage.
Maryland Senate Pass Transgender Rights Bill
The Maryland Senate approved a bill Tuesday, March 4, 2014 that would prohibit discrimination against transgender people. The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which passed the Senate, 32-15, now goes to the House of Delegates. The measure would expand Maryland's anti-discrimination laws to protect transgender people in employment, housing, access to credit and public accommodations. Four localities – Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties – already bar discrimination based on gender identity, but there is not a state law against it.
Black Churches Still Cited as Number One Reason LGBT Community Continues to be Shunned
Despite an overall societal shift that favors LGBT inclusion in all aspects of American life, members of the black LGBT community continue to face a unique set of challenges mainly from their clergy, cites an article on NewsOne.com. "The church still has so much influence and they continue to use influence in a negative way," say Pastor Joseph Tolton of Rehodoth Temple Christ Conscious Church in Harlem. "[Y]ou've got people being driven further and further into the closet."
Helping the Black Family Through Gay Marriage
With one map, the phenomenal researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School showed me the importance of marriage equality to the African American community. Greater familial and economic security for families come with marriage. Not only would both help all same-sex couples who choose to marry, they also would be of great help to black communities struggling to maintain or regain both.
Congressional Black Caucus Calls for Obama Administration to Review Aid to All Countries Criminalizing Homosexuality
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on the Obama administration Tuesday, March 18, 2014 to review all aid to countries with laws criminalizing homosexuality. "Such laws not only violate human rights, they endanger lives and undermine public health efforts," said 41 members of the caucus, in a letter to U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The letter, while praising the administration's efforts in response to a draconian law signed by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, it urges the U.S. to reassess its relationships with all countries with similar anti-gay laws.
Black Parents, Gay Sons and Redefining Masculinity
"As a gay black man, I find myself at the top of the list of people to hate," wrote Michael Arceneaux for The Root five years ago. "That's a hard fact to contend with at 25, let alone at 11. The accepted notions of how a black man should look and act are confining and dangerous, whether you are gay or not."