The following comes from HRC’s Associate Director of Diversity, Donna Payne:

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) held it’s 40th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., on September 15th-18th. The CBC represents all of the black members of Congress. For over 10 years, HRC’s political and diversity departments have participated in attending the conference.

This year, our work became a collaboration with the National Black Justice Coalition’s inaugural program – Out on the Hill, which was designed to organize around public policy priorities that have the ability to move black communities to a conversations that includes the entire community, including the black LGBT community. The event worked in conjunction with the CBC Conference so that people could show a strong black LGBT presence at the conference workshops. This is an important collaboration for the LGBT community to support, because many of us have experienced a denial of our presence within our communities.

The inaugural NBJC event hosted a White House briefing, which included presentations from key White House officials and representatives such as Michael Blake, the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement about African American administration initiatives, and Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy on the national HIV/AIDS strategy. The session was led by Brian Bond, the LGBT Liaison and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

HRC participants at NBJC activities were Marc Nichols from our Business Council, Ashly Smith from the HRC D.C. Steering Committee, John Isa and Mary Snider from our Board of Directors and myself, Associate Director of Diversity and a founding board member of NBJC, Donna Payne. Our new HRC Diversity Assistant for the HBCU Program, Lauren Waters, worked with HBCU students attending the program so that they were up to date on HRC resources and outreach.

For the first time, the CBC workshops included a panel discussion given by the Arcus Foundation entitled:  Breaking Down Barriers: Creating a Progressive Black Agenda for the 21st Century. The discussion included 6 panelists who discussed ways in which the black community can develop a progressive movement from a perspective that is inclusive of the needs and concerns of black LGBT people and other vulnerable communities. Historically, it is the first time that an open panel on African American LGBT concerns has been supported by the CBC. The workshop, overflowing with attendees, was highlighted by the address of Congresswoman Maxine Waters. For so many of us, this speech was the perfect capstone for a truly historic event.

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