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National Black Justice Coalition Mourns Passing of Monica Roberts


WASHINGTON, DC —The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is devastated to learn that Monica Roberts – activist, journalist, auntie, and inspiration – gained her wings on October 5.

Roberts was a trailblazer, creating the award-winning blog TransGriot, which chronicled trans community accomplishments, hardships, and histories when no one else did. She pushed for media competency in the coverage of trans people, addressed head-on the media misgendering of trans victims, and called on all of us to end the epidemic of violence that trans women of color face. She lobbied at all levels of government for trans rights, and became known for her work in Texas and Kentucky politics. Roberts once said, “what I’m writing may inspire someone who does not want to persevere,” and acted with that life-saving energy every day. 

“To know Monica Roberts is to know love,” said David Johns, Executive Director of NBJC. “To have watched her work is to have witnessed fierce advocacy. She was often the first to report on the contributions of, and violence committed against, trans members of our community. She spent her life advocating for and chronicling efforts to hold space to ensure that we can all get free. 

“We’re better because of her life and leadership, and her unyielding commitment to Black people. I pray that those she touched, knowingly and not, will honor her life and her legacy by remaining engaged in the protracted struggle for radically inclusive social justice. We deserve that, she knew it and dedicated her time, talents, and treasures to reminding us of it. Let’s honor her through our acts of love and service” Johns continued. 

Roberts was a founding member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, served on the board of the Louisville Fairness Campaign, and wrote for several publications. She won numerous awards for her work, including a GLAAD Media Award, the Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement, the Virginia Price Pioneer Award, the Human Rights Campaign’s John Walzel Equality Award, and was named as one of The Advocate’s “Women of the Year'' in 2020. She was the third Black trans person to be given the IFGE Trinity Award, the transgender community’s highest award for meritorious service.

Roberts participated in NBJC’s OUT on the Hill Leadership Summit several times, where she ensured that the voices of Black trans women were heard and that there was a focus on the health and wellness of the community. She led talks about how we can help better protect the trans community from violence and discrimination. Over the years, Roberts also led many sessions for NBJC to honor and lift the lives of Black trans women, and she often said NBJC’s conferences made her feel renewed and ready to tackle the ongoing job of uplifting the Black trans community. 

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, CEO of NBJC, remembers Monica as family.  “Monica was the type of sister that when you called, she was there. When you needed your issue lifted, she would carry the weight. She was exceptionally gifted with giving voice and standing shoulder to shoulder in the toughest of times. I loved my sister. I loved my friend. Rest in power, Monica Roberts.”

Monica touched many lives. She saved lives. She was a piercing bright light. She was, and will forever be, the @TransGriot

Our prayers are with everyone who knew and loved her.

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.