WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s black LGBT rights group, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) celebrated its third anniversary on Dec. 8.
‘NBJC is just as significant to black gays as the NAACP is to blacks.’
— H. Alexander Robinson, NBJC Executive Director
Originally formed to respond to a group of black pastors who were attempting to drum up support in the black community for a Federal Marriage Amendment to ban lesbians and gays from getting married, NBJC has now developed into the nation’s leading authority on gay civil rights within the black community and is dedicated to empowering black LGBT individuals.
Since December 2003, NBJC has been instrumental iN bringing visibility and a voice to a group of people who are often silenced and marginalized. Efforts have included hosting the first black church summit dedicated to discussing gays in the church (featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton); the organization of a summit of black LGBT leaders to address critical issues and working with black elected officials. Clearly NBJC has broadened the discussion on gay civil rights in the African-American community.
NBJC also produces a quarterly magazine, Nyansapo, which features news, commentary and articles relevant to the black LGBT community that is mailed to thousands of its constituents four times a year.
To date, NBJC is the first and only organization focusing on gay civil rights that is a member of the National Black Leadership Forum. In addition, NBJC enjoys a broad coalition of support including the NAACP, Urban League, Black AIDS Institute and the California Legislative Black Caucus.
What started as an organization comprised of mostly working volunteer board members, NBJC is now headquartered in Washington D.C. with a full staff.
This year the organization successfully launched its Political Action Fund. The Fund encourages voter support for initiatives and policies to establish racial justice and equality for LGBT Americans and to oppose anti-gay ballot initiatives. In addition, through the NBJC Political Action Fund, NBJC educates the public on African-American candidates at the state, local and federal levels seeking public office on their positions on LGBT issues.
Founding President Keith Boykin is pleased that NBJC has blossomed into a staple civil rights organization.
“I had no idea three years ago that NBJC would grow into what it is now,” he says. “[It] was a voice that was needed in black America and I am proud that we have accomplished so much in such a short time.”
“Without NBJC, millions of black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people would go without representation and that’s not right,” explained H. Alexander Robinson, NBJC executive director. “NBJC is just as significant to black gays as the NAACP is to blacks.”
“While NBJC has accomplished a lot, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said NBJC co-founder Jasmyne Cannick. “Anti-gay legislation passed in seven of eight states in November and we’re headed into a presidential election where blacks will again be pitted against one another on the issue of marriage for gays. NBJC will be there and we will be speaking up and out on behalf of our constituents.”
The board of NBJC includes members Samiya Bashir of New York, Kylar Broadus of Missouri, Jasmyne Cannick of California, Zandra Conway of Georgia, Maurice Franklin of New York, Donna Payne of Washington D.C. and board president Earl Plante of Washington D.C.