Reflections on Working Together in African American Communities
September 25, 2013 by Donna Payne, Associate Director of Field Outreach
September 17 to 21 is the annual convening of the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference and the National Black Justice Coalition’s (NBJC) Summit, Out on the Hill. They both bring together African Americans nationally to reflect on legislative priorities and discuss issues of concern. Attending this year’s Congressional Black Caucus had a very positive feel to it. Perhaps it was the inclusion of my colleague, Rev MacArthur Flournoy and I to speak at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28th or it could have been the Human Rights Campaign’s support to protest NY’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy in 2012, or even the LGBT community showing up in support for the NAACP’s One Nation rally for economic justice and voting rights. I’m not sure which played the most in our movement forward, but I know we are all working together.
NBJC’s Out on the Hill, a summit for African American LGBT people, held a panel discussion about building Black LGBT Political Power and then lobbied Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. At the debriefings, many Black Congressional members expressed their desire to be more inclusive of the LGBT community.
Our staff leads, Noel Gordon, Samantha Master, Rev MacArthur Flournoy and I participated on panels about the state of the Black LGBT Community and about the intersections of race, sexual orientation and gender identity. One of the panel discussions touched on what it means to be inclusive of African American priorities while our work is LGBT focused. Why? Because we are all in a different place now – the African American community and the LGBT community. It calls for us to address issues that aren’t always about us. It calls for the African American community to include our issues as well. The panels were awesome with fresh ideas of how to work together. Later that evening, MacArthur Flournoy and I attended the National Action Network’s reception, where HRC was saluted by Rev Sharpton.
Of course, there is much more ground to cover in working together. We don’t have all the answers, but we have some great starts. This year, the Human Rights Campaign continued to be a proud sponsor of the Congressional Black Caucus and NBJC’s Out on the Hill. Yes, there was a different feel for us. The feeling of bringing together our Black life and our LGBT life and knowing there will be more partnering opportunities like this. That’s called progress!
Pictured (Left to Right): Preston Mitchum, American Center for Progress; Donna Payne, HRC; Kylar Broadus, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Darlene Nipper, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; MacArthur Flournoy, HRC; Darren Phelps, Pride At Work.
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