CHARLOTTE — In the Uptown headquarters of the Charlotte Urban League, dozens of members and leaders of the Carolinas Black Pride Movement (CBPM) joined together on Jan. 24 to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor community members who have made a difference in the lives of LGBT people of color.
CBPM President Jermaine Nakia Lee opened the evening’s celebration with a welcome urging attendees to remember the Civil Rights and LGBT rights movements are one in the same.
“Many argue that there should be no comparison between the civil rights movement that Dr. King led and the ongoing gay rights movement, but we at Carolinas Black Pride Movement strongly disagree,” he said. “Have not people of African descent and gays been the recipient of cruelty, oppression and marginalization for centuries? Are not people of African descent and gays experiencing institutionalized discrimination and gross intolerance?”
The invocation for the evening was led by the Rev. Roger E. Hayes of Winston-Salem’s Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, which will take part in the denominational gathering of The Fellowship at Charlotte’s Omni Hotel Feb. 18-21.
“Father we understand that community is the catalyst in which many of us are shaped,” he prayed. “We thank you for community and the celebration of it tonight. We thank you for the legacy of those same gender loving individuals who have gone before us.”
CBPM Vice President L’Monique presented the group’s 2009 Audre Lorde Community Leadership Award to In the Lyfe owners Meredeth Summers and Devian Richmond.
In the Lyfe is a production company that provides LGBT entertainment in area nightclubs and other venues. Some of the company’s popular events have included Takeover Thursday and annual Pride festivities in Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro and Columbia.
“It is good to see our hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed in the community because we definitely are all about the community and a part of it,” Richmond said.
Santonio Mobley was honored with the group’s 2009 Bayard Rustin Community Leadership Award, presented by Lee. Mobley is majoring in accounting at Central Piedmont Community College and is an active member of the Marine Corps. In Charlotte, Mobley has worked as a popular opinion leader in the Metrolina AIDS Project initiative d-Up!, an HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention program reaching out to young, African-American men.
“Honestly, this past year I almost wanted to quit,” he said, thanking the organization for the award. “I felt like everything I tried to do and everything I’ve done to get people involved in d-Up! and to educate themselves… it felt like it was never going anywhere. Something just told me I can’t get give up.”
He added, “I’m a Marine and we have this motto, ‘Without struggle there is no success.’ We’re going to struggle each and everyday…but eventually we’ll have success.”
In February, CBPM will begin rehearsals for its play, “Before it Hits Home.” The play follows the journey of an African-American man with HIV and will be presented during the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS in March.
For more photos from the Carolinas Black Pride Movement 2009 Awards Gala visit www.q-notes.com/photos/.