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NBJC Executive Director Meets with President Obama and Other African American Leaders

President Barack Obama met with nine African American national leaders on Thursday, February 21, at the White House to discuss his plan to strengthen the economy and protect our nation's most vulnerable. National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) Executive Director and CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, was among the distinguished participants.

"It was an honor and a privilege to represent my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters, and to bring a Black LGBT lens to a distinguished African American space and conversation," says Lettman-Hicks. "Our president has proven his commitment to LGBT Americans time and time again. I am optimistic that he will continue to make historic strides around policy that impacts the economic well-being of the Black LGBT community, a constituency that lives at the intersection of racial justice and LGBT equality."

Black female same-sex couples report a median income of $10,000 less than Black married heterosexual couples and $21,000 less than white female same-sex couples. Black male same-sex couples, on the other hand, report a median income of $23,000 less than white male same-sex couples. The numbers are even more staggering for Black transgender men and women. Thirty-four percent of Black transgender people reported an annual household income of less than $10,000.

The President reiterated his commitment to supporting policies that will directly impact those hardest hit by the economic crisis by increasing access to job training programs, partnering with high-poverty communities to help them rebuild, and encouraging companies to invest in disadvantaged neighborhoods. He also stressed the harm that the automatic cuts known as the sequester will have on thousands of jobs while cutting services to children, seniors, mental wellness programs, small businesses, and those in our military.

Last year, NBJC joined a coalition of 23 national LGBT organizations, led by the Center for American Progress and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to release the report Caught in the Budget Battle: How the 'Fiscal Showdown' Impacts Gay and Transgender Americans which highlights how across-the-board cuts under sequestration would reduce key federal programs and services that support the health, wellness, and livelihood of LGBT Americans and their families.

The President praised the participants for their steadfast leadership on a broad range of issues critical to improving the economy and strengthening our country. The leaders in attendance also highlighted their goals to continue to build momentum for Congress to act in the best interests of the American people by supporting policies that help move our country forward.

Other attendees included: Al Sharpton, Founder and President of National Action Network; Ben Jealous, President, National Association of the Advancement of Colored People; Melanie Campbell, President, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation; Wade Henderson, President, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Ralph Everett, President, Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies; Avis Jones-DeWeever, Executive Director, National Council of Negro Women; Rev Derrick Harkins, 19th Street Baptist Church; and Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project.

"This meeting couldn't have been more timely," adds Lettman-Hicks. "That same day, NBJC convened over 200 Black LGBT Emerging Leaders in our nation's capital to engage with stakeholders, share best practices, and own their power. We are also gearing up for our economic empowerment tour with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Many Faces. One Dream. We've got work to do. And it's an honor to do it with an LGBT-affirming president in office, who is also an African American."


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.