Historic Happenings as Black LGBT Group Addresses NAACP Convention

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Remarks by National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) cover racial divide on LGBT Issues, HIV/AIDS and unveiling of NAACP's LGBT Task Force

Too often, our community -- the Black community -- thinks of LGBT concerns, thinks of gay concerns as White. The National Black Justice Coalition represents Black LGBT people -- like myself -- that need you.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is pleased to report Deputy Director Jason W. Bartlett's address to the NAACP Board of Governors at the NAACP Centennial last night. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond personally introduced Bartlett to the NAACP Board of Governors during last night's presentation. Bartlett, who is also a Connecticut State Representative, centered his address to the historic gathering on an appeal to make LGBT rights a part of the civil rights agenda of the NAACP going forward.

In addition to Bartlett's address, NBJC participation at the Centennial includes Wednesday's unveiling of the newly formed NAACP LGBT Equality Task Force, created in conjunction with NBJC leadership earlier this year.

Bartlett's Tuesday night address touched on many issues, including hate crimes and workplace discrimination, noting "Black gay people need you on Hate Crimes. We have a disproportionate number of Black LGBT people who are suffering from hate crimes and we need you to speak about it and advocate for them. It is our Black brothers and sisters who are gay and lesbian that need you; they need you to not let them be oppressed at their place of work."

Bartlett urged the NAACP to pass resolutions on these issues on behalf of people of color like him who are gay, noting, "Too often, our community -- the Black community -- thinks of LGBT concerns, thinks of gay concerns as White. The National Black Justice Coalition represents Black LGBT people -- like myself -- that need you."

One of Bartlett's more controversial remarks took the NAACP to task for neglecting to mention Black LGBT individuals when addressing AIDS: "Earlier today, you had a plenary on HIV AIDS, you discussed the high incidence of AIDS the disproportionate impact of this disease on African American women -- but you did not address the disproportionate number of HIV/AIDS incidences on our young Black gay men aged between 18 and 25. You cannot talk about HIV AIDS unless you are willing to talk about gay men, Black gay men. We need to have this conversation!" he implored.

Bartlett went on to say that he was in the closet for over 40 years in part because he felt oppressed by the non-welcoming environment of the Black community. He asked the Board of Governors to join their courageous leaders Ben Jealous and Julian Bond, and to pass affirming resolutions on LGBT rights.

Bartlett concluded by recognizing marriage equality as a civil right, adding "...that we need to recognize this fact, not for our White LGBT brothers and sisters, but for the Black people who need our support -- our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, our cousins -- our Black neighbors that needed the NAACP to lead, and to fight for them."

The National Black Justice Coalition (http://www.nbjc.org) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Our mission is to end racism and homophobia. NBJC envisions a world where all people are fully empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly in family, faith and community, regardless of race, gender-identity, or sexual orientation.

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