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NAACP Holds First-Ever Town Hall on LGBT Issues at LA Convention Center


Cross-posted from

By Karen Ocamb

The California chapter of the NAACP under President Alice Huffman has been a steadfast and courageous supporter of marriage equality since 2004. But Huffman took some heavy criticism from the national organization which – despite having the extraordinary pro-gay civil rights icon Julian Bond as Board Co-chair – refused to endorse full equal rights for LGBT people, including same gender-loving African Americans.

Having a prominent national civil rights organization dedicated to justice and equality hold a “neutral” position on discrimination against same sex couples was a disconnect that came to the fore post-Prop 8 when another prominent civil rights group – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – reportedly wanted to fire SCLC/LA head Rev. Eric Lee over his strong stand for marriage equality. Were the NAACP and SCLC “neutral” over inter-racial marriage in the case of Loving v. Virginia?

I raised the issue of “neutrality” with SCLC’s General Counsel Dexter M. Wimbish when I interviewed him about Lee’s situation. Wimbish said:

“I personally understand that position. I imagine that in the 1960s the same argument was made about why some organizations were ‘neutral’ about segregation, for instance. But this organization is not at a point where it will take a public position on the issue. It just means that inside the organization and outside, we have work to do. This is Dr. King’s organization and personally, I would hope that we can come together to dialogue and address those issues.”

It appears the NAACP is ready to have that dialogue. On July 25 at 2:00pm at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the NAACP will hold its first-ever town hall meeting to discuss LGBT issues. The event will be moderated by recently out CNN anchor Don Lemmon and include married comedienne Wanda Sykes. The town hall meeting is one of several panels and workshops the NAACP is having at its convention that starts Friday and runs through Thursday, July 28 Here’s a link to the day-by-day schedule. Also – please note that AIDS at 30 will be the topic of the luncheon speakers on Saturday.

Here’s a reminder of how extraordinary iconic NAACP civil rights hero Julian Bond talks about LGBT rights as civil rights when he was honored by the Human Rights Campaign in March 2009 in Los Angeles:

In a press release, pro-gay NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said:

“Black members of the LGBT community share a common history and continued struggle to address issues of bigotry, yet their identities, talents and leadership are often times diminished because of homophobia and fear of physical violence. It is important that we address these issues head on.”

The press release says that the LGBT forum

“will examine the significant contributions of black gay leaders within the Civil Rights movement, the role of black straight allies in addressing homophobia, and how we can collectively overcome LGBT discrimination within the black community.

Panelists also include Professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall of Spelman College, actor Daryl Stephen and writer, scholar and activist Kenyon Farrow.

Here an earlier schedule with highlights for the convention. Please note that the LGBT town hall does not appear here – but has since been posted. Ed. note: the schedule can be found in the extended entry.

102nd Annual Convention: “Affirming America’s Promise”


FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2011

9:00 am – 11:30 pm ACT-SO Workshops

9:00 am – 11:30 pm ACT-SO Science/Visual Arts Viewing


JW Marriot, Plaza 1-3

NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock

NAACP President & CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous


9:00 am – 9:00 pm ACT-SO Competitions

9:30 am – 11:40 am Health Symposium

NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock

US Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin

Former Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders

Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher

Noon – 1:30 pm HIV/AIDS Lunch

Dr. Gail Wyatt, UCLA AIDS Institute

1:00 pm Commerce & Industry Show- GRAND OPENING

SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2011

10:30 am – 12:30 pm WIN Empowerment Forum/Brunch

Donna Richardson Joyner

Kemba Smith Padia, Author

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm ACT-SO Awards Ceremony

6:00 pm – 8:30 pm First Public Mass Meeting

Senator Diane Feinstein

Representative Maxine Waters

Chairman Emeritus Myrlie Evers-Williams

Keynote Address

Keynote Address: Roslyn M. Brock

Chairman, National Board of Directors

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011

5:45 am – 6:15 am Morning Fitness/Boot Camp

9:30 am – 12:00 pm First Plenary Session

Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles

Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League

Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor, Los Angeles County

Eric Garcetti, City Council President, Los Angeles

Judge Greg Mathis, NAACP National Board Member

Keynote Address

Keynote Speaker: Benjamin Todd Jealous

President and CEO NAACP

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Clarence Mitchell Memorial Lecture Luncheon

Kamala Harris, Attorney General, California

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Concurrent Workshops:


The NAACP’s Federal Legislative Strategy for Affirming America’s Promise

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Ohio

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas

Congresswoman Laura Richardson, California

Congressman Bobby Scott, VA

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, California


Health Reform: Truth About The Law One Year Later

Climate Gap

The Air WE Breathe: Taking Action Against Toxic Exposures in African American Communities


An Education Agenda for the NAACP’s Second Century

Economic Justice

Protecting Our Wealth and Restoring the Trust

Criminal Justice

Impact: Understanding the Collateral Consequences of the Criminal Justice System on Communities of Color


The Economic Crisis: The Impact on the Working Family

4:30 pm – 7:00 pm Youth Community Service

Serving meals to the homeless at the Midnight Mission

TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2011

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm National Membership Luncheon

Hill Harper, Actor & Activist

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Armed Services & Veterans Affairs Dinner

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm Youth Night Public Mass Meeting

Michael B. Jordan, Actor Friday Night Lights

Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, Singer


9:30 am – 12:30 pm Special Plenary Session

“No Turning Back: Redistricting, Protecting Our Voting Rights and the Road to 2012”

Barbara Arnwine, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Judith A. Browne-Dianis, Advancement Project

Anita Earls, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

John Payton, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Labor Luncheon

Councilman Herb Wesson, 10th District, Los Angeles

Senator Curren Price, 26th District, Los Angeles

Maria Elana Durazo, Los Angeles AFL-CIO

Michael Mulgrew, President, UFT New York, NY

Arlene Holt-Baker, Vice President, AFL-CIO

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm Plenary Session: “Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Youth & College Division”

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm Plenary Session: “Artists and Activism”

Hill Harper, Artist & Activist

Louis Gossett Jr., Actor

Blair Underwood, Actor

Harry Belafonte, Artist & Activist

Tatyana Ali, Actress

Robert Townsend, Actor

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm Movie Premiere – “The Help”

Viola Davis, Actor

Octavia Spencer, Actress

Tate Taylor, Filmmaker

Kathryn Stockett, Writer & Director

7:00 pm – 11:00 pm Youth Freedom Fund Dinner

Amber Riley, Actress, GLEE

Tristian Wilds, Actor


Press Office Open 8:30 am – 6:30 pm

9:30 am – 12:30 pm Final Plenary Session

“The Plight of the African American Male-

Saving Our Men-Saving Our Community”

Robert Townsend, Actor

7:30 pm – 9:30 pm Freedom Fund Banquet/Spingarn Award Presentation

Frankie Muse Freeman, Spingarn Medalist



  • 1. Arizona_Abby  |  July 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Yeah, but they shouldn’t be calling it a LGB*T* town hall if they’re going to exclude trans people from the panel!

  • 2. Bob  |  July 23, 2011 at 10:47 am

    great speach "equality comes not to those who wait,, but to those who agitate"

  • 3. Kathleen  |  July 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Which of the 2 o'clock panels on the 25th is the one on LGBT issues? Can't find it in the list.

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