H. Alexander Robinson

Black History LGBT Profiles: Mandy Carter

Filed By H. Alexander Robinson | February 02, 2008 11:27 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media
Tags: black gay men, Black History Month, black LGBT

Mandy Carter is a self-described "out, southern, black, lesbian, social justice activist." 2008 marks her 40th year of working in multi-issue and multi-racial grassroots organizing. Although she was first introduced to social justice activism in 1965 when the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee visited her high school in Schenectady, N.Y., it was the 1968 Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Poor People's Campaign that officially marked the beginning of her activism.

Carter also credits Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s campaign projects such as those associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the former Institute for the Study of Nonviolence founded by folksinger Joan Baez; and the pacifist-based War Resisters League (WRL), specifically WRL-West with whom she got her first-ever paid position in the movement in 1969.

On next week, Carter will receive the $10,000 Anderson Prize Foundation's Susan J. Hyde Longevity Award at the 2008 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's (NGLTF) Creating Change Conference in Detroit, Mich. She was given the 2006 Spirit of Justice Award from Boston's Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) for the significant and lasting impact she has had on the progress of LGBT civil rights in the U.S. Carter was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as one of the "1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005" which recognized, made visible and celebrated the impressive and valuable, yet often invisible peace work of thousands of women around the world.

Carter is a founding board member of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), which is the only national civil rights organization for black LGBT individuals and their allies dedicated to fostering equality by fighting racism and homophobia. She currently sits on the boards and/or advisory committees of Durham's Ladyslipper Music, Detroit-based Triangle Foundation, and Vermont-based Kopkind Colony.

She is a former Executive Director and one of the six co-founders of the Durham-based Southerners On New Ground (SONG). Founded at the 1993 NGLTF Creating Change Conference in Durham, SONG is purposed to build progressive movements across the South by developing transformative models of organizing that connect race, class, culture, gender, and sexuality identity. Specifically, SONG integrates work against homophobia into freedom struggles in the South.

Together with Matt Foreman, Executive Director of NGLTF, Carter was one the two gay and lesbian people to speak at the 2003 Lincoln Memorial Rally for the 40th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. SONG and NGLTF had been asked by the 40th Anniversary Steering Committee, including Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, III, to mobilize LGBT participation at the rally, which they did in honor of Bayard Rustin, the black gay pacifist who coordinated the 1963 March.

Carter's political involvement is also quite extensive and includes: serving as campaign manager for North Carolina's Senate Vote '90 and Mobilization '96 political action committees; serving, again, as campaign manager for Florida Vote/Equal Voice based in Miami; participating in a 2000 election year non-partisan, statewide voter empowerment campaign, which was initiated by the African-American Ministers Leadership Council of the People, For the American Way Foundation, and the Florida NAACP, and which resulted in one of Florida's largest black voter turn out's ever.

Additionally, Carter was a four-year (1996-2000) North Carolina Member-At-Large of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and a member of both the DNC Gay and Lesbian Caucus and the DNC Black Caucus. She was a delegate at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, as well as one of the four co-chairs for the daily meeting of the DNC Gay and Lesbian Caucus.

[Editor's note:] This post is part of a series celebrating Black History Month and the Black LGBT experience. The information in this profile was gathered by the National Black Justice Coalition.

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