HRC Blog

Emerging Black LGBT Leaders Attend White House Briefing

Post submitted by Lauren Waters, Former HRC Diversity Student Assistant

Over 150 emerging Black LGBT leaders recently attended a White House briefing that included Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama; George Walker, the first openly gay man to serve on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs);  and John Brown, the Associate Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs.  Jarrett kicked off the meeting and encouraged leaders to keep fighting by saying: “We are the future of the civil rights movement.”

Walker and Brown also listened to feedback from briefing attendees – most of which reflected the frustration of LGBT students who are struggling for support from HBCU’s in handling LGBT concerns. They spoke frankly about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” climate on campus that makes students fear being open on campus. 

The brief also included four breakout sessions: Safe Schools; HIV/AIDS Prevention; Faith Outreach; and Youth Entrepreneurship.  The breakout sessions were key because they gave Black emerging leaders the chance to hear how they can better serve their communities, while effectively creating change.

To wrap up the sessions, Black LGBT members from across the Obama administration shared information about their journey to the White House and their work in advancing equality at a macro level. Ashlee Davis - a participant from last year’s Black LGBT White House briefing, got an internship out of her experience at the briefing, and now works in the office of Presidential Personnel.   

This White House briefing was a truly phenomenal experience for all, as it bridged the gap between being Black and LGBT.  

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