2023 Black History Month: LGBTQ+ Spotlights
The month of February is a time to reflect on the contributions, challenges, and history of Black and African-American community members. Despite attempts to erase queer Black activists from history, they have pressed through the obstacles of colonialism and white supremacy, and we proudly pay tribute to those who fought for equality before us. We also want to celebrate the achievements of activists today who continue to lead, create, and envision a better future amidst the ongoing racism in our country. This Black History Month 2023, One Colorado's team is uplifting the stories of Black LGBTQ+ people throughout history who have fought for equality, freedom, and justice. Check out their spotlights below.
Ella Baker highlighted youth importance in the civil rights movement, creating Young Negroes Cooperative League and co-creating Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Ella Baker believed the youth were the future, and without them we have no future.
Mauree Turner made history in 2020 by becoming the country's first openly nonbinary state legislator.
The 27-year-old and native Oklahoman has been a community organizer for most of their life and focuses their service on criminal justice reform, public education, expanding access to affordable health care, and increasing the minimum wage.
Kylar W. Broadus is a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ movement as an attorney, long-time activist, public speaker, author, and professor.
He founded the Trans People of Color Coalition in 2010. In 2012, he became the first trans person to testify in front of the United States Senate when he spoke in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Queen Latifa is a respected female MC in the rap game and pivoted to become a singer, TV host, and actress. She was also the first rapper to perform at the Super Bowl!
She is unapologetic about focusing on community and holding hip-hop accountable for misogyny. She is a leader in the community and deserves to be celebrated as Black woman and as a Queer woman!
Barbara Smith is a black lesbian feminist, author, and organizer who co-founded the Combahee River Collective.
In 1978, her organization "pioneered what would eventually become known as intersectionality" focusing on oppression and the need for collaboration amongst marginalized communities.
Alvin Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company in 1958, "to provide a place where black dancers could avoid pervasive discrimination."
Today, the company continues to explore the human condition while maintaining a deep focus on black traditions, movements, and music.
Bayard Rustin lived and worked in the deepest shadows, not because he was a closeted gay man, but because he wasn’t trying to hide who he was.
A close advisor to Martin Luther King and one of the most influential and effective organizers of the civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin was affectionately referred to as “Mr. March-on-Washington.”
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has dedicated 50 years of her life to organizing for trans women of color.
She is a veteran of the Stonewall Riots and the founding executive director of Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), a nonprofit that centers and supports trans, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people in and out of prisons, jails, and detention centers.
Ron Oden made history by becoming the first openly-gay African-American man elected mayor of an American city (Palm Springs, CA).
Oden worked tirelessly to promote respect for diversity through organizations such as the Palm Springs Human Rights Task Force, and the Palm Springs branch of the NAACP.
Gladys Bentley was a gender-bending performer during the Harlem Renaissance. Donning a top hat and tuxedo, Bentley would sing the blues in Harlem establishments.
Bentley, who died in 1960 at the age of 52, was "Harlem's most famous lesbian" in the 1930s and "among the best-known Black entertainers in the United States."
Angela Davis has been a consistent advocate of feminism, which takes into account factors like race, class, capitalism, and transgender rights, and highlights the vital historical contributions of Black women.
Davis is committed to fighting for justice for people of color in the face of a country built upon the ideology of white supremacy.
James Baldwin is an American essayist, novelist, and playwright whose eloquence and passion on the subject of race in America made him an important voice during the Civil Rights Movement.
His book, The Fire Next Time, is considered by many as the most influential book of the 1960s and landed Baldwin on the cover of TIME magazine in 1963.