Press Room

February 01, 2005

Category: In Communities of Color

HRC to Hold Second Annual Conference for GLBT Students from Historically Black Colleges

'These students will leave empowered to affect positive change in the world around them,' said HRC National Field Director Seth Kilbourn

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign will host its second annual conference for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities Friday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, Feb. 13, at its headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. Headlining the event will be Emil Wilbekin, a Hampton University alumnus, vice president of brand development at Marc Ecko and former editor of Vibe Magazine and Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, a nationally renowned speaker and president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

"These students will leave empowered to affect positive change in the world around them," said Seth Kilbourn, HRC's national field director.

"The conference is a yearly highlight to the work we are engaged in every day at these colleges and universities."

With more than 50 students participating from around the country - up from 15 last year - the conference is themed "Claim Your Truth - Black, Out, Proud and Visible." Workshops and presenters will center on being out in your personal life, on campus and in the world.
The event will begin with a meet and greet, open to the public, with Wilbekin Friday evening, followed by workshops and trainings on Saturday. Cole will close the weekend with a keynote speech on Sunday.

"We are fortunate in having Emil Wilbekin and Dr. Johnnetta Cole - two distinguished HBCU luminaries - who believe in this program," said Brandon Braud, HRC's field organizer for the program. "Their participation speaks to the importance of this event in empowering GLBT students on these campuses."

Students from Bennett, Hampton, Wiley, Tennessee State, Morehouse, Spelman, Clark, Fisk, Paine, Dillard and Howard will be attending.

"Last year's conference gave me the tools to improve the environment for GLBT students on my own campus," said Jon-William Patterson of Paine College. "I connected with other students who had experiences like mine and now we're all making a difference back home."

Last year's conference also marked the launch of HRC's "Resource Guide to Coming Out for African Americans," which focuses on particular issues that the black GLBT and same-gender-loving community faces in the coming out process.

"This annual conference is one way that we demonstrate our commitment to diversity, which is part of our daily work to ensure that we are inclusive and affirming for all members of our community," said Julian High, HRC's director of human resources and diversity. "This conference could not be possible without the support of the David Bohnett Foundation and we are truly grateful to them."