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The National Black Justice Coalition Remembers PULSE Nightclub Massacre, Honors Victims & Survivors on Six Year Anniversary

CONTACT: Brett Abrams | 

ORLANDO, FL —Six years ago today, an armed gunman entered PULSE, a well known LGBTQ+ nightclub in Central Florida, killing 49 people, injuring dozens more, and causing enduring mental health trauma for thousands in the largest mass murder of LGBTQ+/SGL (same gender loving) Americans in U.S. history. 

In response, Dr. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a leading Black LGBTQ+/SGL civil rights organization, issued the following statement: 

“Today, we remember each of the 49 victims and survivors of the PULSE massacre in love and in solidarity with our LGBTQ+/SGL community. As we commemorate Pride month, it is imperative that we honor the individuals whose lives were stolen on June 12, 2016 due to senseless violence, hate, and bigotry.

“PULSE feels like yesterday to me. The night before the shooting I produced an African American LGBTQ+ Youth Summit reception and celebration at the White House. Like so many queer people in queer spaces, those who partied at PULSE may have felt the same sense of sanctuary I did that night, except they never made it home, or arrived home forever changed. 

“While this instance is a distant memory for some, it’s a reminder of the work ahead for Black LGBTQ+/SGL people, who feel unsafe in public space on a regular basis. The majority of PULSE victims in 2016 were people of color — and we will never forget.

“PULSE survivors deserve complete financial and emotional support, including state and federal subsidies for mental health counseling and treatments.

“It should not be lost on anyone that as we remember our brothers and sisters that we lost at PULSE, that Florida’s Republican Party is currently waging a war on LGBTQ+ people – trying to erase us from schools, denying us access to gender affirming health care, and seeking to undermine our place in society. We will not let this happen.

“Our hearts are with everyone affected by this profoundly dark moment.”

Victoria Kirby York, who is from Florida and serves as the National Black Justice Coalition’s Deputy Executive Director added:

“I was in Orlando during the immediate aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre watching and listening to then Gov. Rick Scott talk to reporters from across the world about taking action. I followed then presidential candidate Marco Rubio vow to bring people of faith together with LGBTQ+ people to prevent future violence targeting our community using my own words before Orlando’s faith leaders. And, sadly, I continue to watch as both have done absolutely nothing to advance the Equality Act or gun violence prevention measures in their time as U.S. Senators. 

“I don’t know how you can stand on top of blood streaked roads where people crawled to their deaths or valiantly to the hospital trying to escape a mass shooter and domestic terrorist and not be forever changed. I don’t know how you promise the world action and do absolutely nothing but a ceremonial day of honor. Symbolism won’t stop bias and bigotry from being acted upon to harm others – only action. We call on the entire U.S. Senate to honor the victims and survivors of the Pulse Massacre with ACTION. Pray AND PASS discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, modernize our civil rights laws for today’s economy, and ensure gun violence prevention measures become more than talking points but law.”

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.