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MLK Day Jan. 16: King’s legacy lives on through today's leaders

Date: 
January 14, 2006

Task Force recognizes seven African-American LGBT leaders who carry forward the social justice philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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“The same radical right that claims to be looking out for people of color is working against issues of importance to us. They hope to dismantle affirmative action, multicultural curriculums and implement English-only laws. Most people of color, gay and straight, have always known that the radical right is no friend of ours.”  Mandy Carter, longtime grassroots activist

“We’ve got to make this circle ever wider; we’ve got to make the table ever longer; we’ve got to print some more invitations until everybody can have a seat. You see it’s not dinner till everybody sits down.”
Bishop Yvette Flunder in a speech given at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference, Nov. 13, 2005

“Gays and lesbians are woven into African-American communities wherever we are. Gay African-Americans don't live in just Atlanta and Chicago; we live everywhere in America where you find African-Americans."H. Alexander Robinson, National Black Justice Coalition

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force hails seven African-American lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community leaders whose work embodies the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s expansive vision of social justice. Dr. King emphasized the intersections of racial and economic injustice and called for religious leaders to commit themselves to social justice struggles.

“These tremendous leaders advance Dr. King’s vision of the ‘beloved community’ — activism that moves beyond securing individual rights to a broader understanding of building a just and compassionate society for all people,” said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman.

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Bishop Carl Bean* The Los Angeles-based Bean founded Unity Fellowship Church to minister to LGBT Christians of color and initiated the Minority AIDS Project (MAP), the first community-based HIV/AIDS organization in the United States to be established and managed by people of color.
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Earline Budd* — Budd, of Washington, D.C., founded Transgender Health Empowerment in order to advance the rights of transgender people and works with Us Helping Us to ensure that local transgender people have access to HIV prevention services.
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Mandy Carter — Carter has organized at the grassroots in almost every major region of the United States for the past three decades. She is the executive director and a co-founder of the North Carolina-based group Southerners on New Ground (SONG), which aims to “build movement across the South for progressive social change by developing models for organizing that connect race, class, culture, gender and sexual identity.”
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Bishop Yvette Flunder — Bay Area resident Flunder founded the City of Refuge Community Church, a thriving action-oriented inner-city congregation that seeks to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry. She also founded a non profit that provides housing, direct services, education and training for persons affected by HIV/AIDS, and serves as presiding bishop of Refuge Ministries/Fellowship 2000, a multi-denominational fellowship of primarily African-American Christian leaders and laity.
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Phil Reed — A native New Yorker, Phil Reed served on the New York City Council from 1998 through 2005. Reed worked with Dr. King as a young man, organizing youth boycotts, voter registration drives and protests. Reed has held positions at the East New York HIV/AIDS Project and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which fights against discrimination and provides educational counseling for LGBT youth. As an openly gay and HIV-positive man, he has served on the citywide HIV Planning Council, worked as a longtime community organizer, and has volunteered his time tutoring children after school.
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H. Alexander Robinson — Robinson lives in the D.C. metro area and is executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, which educates and mobilizes opinion leaders, including elected officials, clergy and media. He warns that conservatives are “waging a campaign of fear over gay marriage to distract the African-American community” from other social justice issues such as cuts to funding for education and social services.
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Phill Wilson — Wilson, founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, has worked extensively on HIV/AIDS policy, research, prevention and treatment issues in 15 countries. He describes AIDS as not just a health issue but also “an economic issue, a social justice issue, an urban renewal issue, a civil rights issue, a human issue,” advocating a personal approach: “Before you can convince people to save their lives, you have to convince them their lives are worth saving.”

* Asterisk indicates leader who was spotlighted in the November 2005 issue of the National Black Justice Coalition’s magazine, NYANSAPO. For more information, visit http://www.nbjcoalition.org.

Additional background information

 

Bishop Carl Bean

Bean founded Unity Fellowship Church, which now has congregations in 15 cities nationwide, to minister to LGBT Christians of color in Los Angeles. Concerned that the black community often dismissed HIV/AIDS as “a white gay thing,” he initiated the Minority AIDS Project (MAP), the first community-based HIV/AIDS organization in the United States to be established and managed by people of color. UFC espouses liberation theology and is committed to defending the rights of historically oppressed groups, including women, people of color and LGBTQ people. Bean received an NAACP Image Award (1987) for his work on AIDS, a Prophetic Witness Award (1993) from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Liberty Award (1994). (Unity Fellowship Church: http://www.ufc-usa.org; Minority AIDS Project: http://www.map-usa.org.

 

Earline Budd

Washington, D.C.-based Budd founded Transgender Health Empowerment in order to advance the rights of transgender people in the areas of housing, health care, employment and correctional institutions. She also works with Us Helping Us, an organization ensuring that local transgender people have access to HIV prevention services, and developed and implemented the Washington Transgender Needs Assessment Survey. Budd has taken leadership roles in Black Pride and helped coordinate the Task Force’s Equality Begins At Home. Budd has been involved with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as chair of its Review Policy Committee and a member of its HIV Prevention Community Planning Group.

 

Mandy Carter

Carter has done grassroots organizing in almost every major region of the United States for the past three decades. She is the executive director and a co-founder of the North Carolina-based group Southerners on New Ground (SONG), which aims to “build movement across the South for progressive social change by developing models for organizing that connect race, class, culture, gender and sexual identity.” She focuses on the religious and radical right's divisive tactic of anti-LGBT organizing in the black church and black community. She has been involved in the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and has served on the boards of the International Federation of Black Prides, the National Stonewall Democratic Federation, the Triangle Foundation and Equal Partners in Faith. She has forged indelible ties among the natural allies that exist in the African-American, religious and LGBT communities. (Southerners on New Ground: http://www.southnewground.org)

 

Rev. Yvette Flunder

Bay Area resident Flunder founded the City of Refuge Community Church, a thriving action-oriented inner-city congregation that seeks to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry. Flunder and her staff also founded Ark of Refuge, a nonprofit organization that provides housing, direct services, education and training for persons affected by HIV/AIDS, and serves as presiding bishop of Refuge Ministries/Fellowship 2000, a multi-denominational fellowship of primarily African-American Christian leaders and laity. She emphasizes the need for AIDS to be spoken about more openly among communities of faith. She is also an accomplished gospel artist. (Ark of Refuge: http://www.sfrefuge.org)

 

Phil Reed

Reed served on the New York City Council from 1998 through 2005. Since organizing youth boycotts, voter registration drives and protests with Dr. King, he has held positions at the East New York HIV/AIDS Project and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which fights against discrimination and provides educational counseling for LGBT youth. As an openly gay and HIV-positive man, he has served on the citywide HIV Planning Council and has volunteered his time tutoring children after school.

 

H. Alexander Robinson

Robinson lives in the D.C. metro area and is executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, which educates and mobilizes opinion leaders, including elected officials, clergy and media, with a focus on black communities. He warns that conservatives are “waging a campaign of fear over gay marriage to distract the African-American community” from other social justice issues such as cuts to funding for education and social services. A former board member of the National Minority AIDS Council, Robinson was also a member of the Presidential Advisory Council for HIV/AIDS and served as treasurer for the Whitman-Walker Clinic. (National Black Justice Coalition: http://www.nbjcoalition.org)

 

Phill Wilson

Wilson, founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, has worked extensively on HIV/AIDS policy, research, prevention and treatment issues in 15 countries. He describes AIDS as not just a health issue but also “an economic issue, a social justice issue, an urban renewal issue, a civil rights issue, a human issue,” advocating a personal approach: “Before you can convince people to save their lives, you have to convince them their lives are worth saving.” Wilson co-founded the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the 1994 World AIDS Summit in Paris, and helped found the Chris Brownlie Hospice, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the National Minority AIDS Council, the Los Angeles County Gay Men of Color Consortium and the CAEAR Coalition. (Black AIDS Institute: http://www.blackaids.org)


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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.