Black History Month Resource List

by The Believe Out Loud Team

February has been recognized as Black History Month in the United States since 1925. Since its inception, this yearly celebration has provided the people of the United States and the world with an opportunity to honor the gifts, accomplishments and contributions African Americans have made to American society and to civilization at large.

In honoring and celebrating Black history, we contribute to the healing and perfecting of the union we are called to build as a nation. We are proud to honor this call every day in our work towards justice and reconciliation.

To honor Black History Month this year, we are excited to share this resource list celebrating the work of Black activists and advocates, artists, writers, athletes and clergy. In extension of Intersections’ commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion, in this collection we have made an effort to include many Black trailblazers who are members of the LGBT community

Top L-R: Rebecca Cox Jackson, Grant-Michael Fitzgerald, Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé, Desmond Tutu, Pauli Murray, Rebecca Perot

Bottom L-R: Walatta Petros, Delois Blakely aka Queen Mother, Delores Berry, Peter J. Gomes

Through the centuries, Black religious leaders have been spiritual visionaries, global peacebuilders and queer changemakers. The luminaries on this list have all used a faith-rooted value system to work for justice, equality and inclusion in both their faith communities and society as a whole.

Delois Blakely aka Queen Mother

Dr. Delois Blakely is a former Roman Catholic nun and Goodwill Ambassador for the African Union to the United Nations; she is a religious leader and global activist for women’s rights, children and the elimination of poverty.

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Delores Berry
Rev. Delores Berry was a co-founder of the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays, co-organizer of the first Gay and Lesbian March on Washington,D.C., and the first People of Color Gay and Lesbian White House Conference.

Learn more:

Desmond Tutu
Sir Desmond Tutu is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, anti-apartheid and human rights activist and the recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Grant-Michael Fitzgerald
Brother Grant-Michael Fitzgerald was one of the few African American members in the the Order of the Salvatorians in the 1960s. A strong advocate for gay rights and religious freedom, he founded the first Salvatorian Gay Ministry Task Force.

Learn more:

Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé
Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé was a queer-identifying theologian of African and Cherokee ancestry, an HIV/AIDS activist, interfaith scholar, multi-ethnic artist and spiritual leader.

Learn more:
“Ibrahim Farajajé: Queer theologian, AIDS activist, interfaith scholar, spiritual leader”:

Pauli Murray
Pauli Murray was a queer, gender-nonconforming civil and women’s rights activist and lawyer, author and first Black woman to be ordained in the Episcopal church in 1977.

Learn more:

Peter J. Gomes
Rev. Peter J. Gomes was a gay Baptist minister at Harvard University, known for his work of dismantling homophobic interpretations of Scripture.

Learn more:
“Peter Gomes: Gay black Harvard minister preached ‘scandalous gospel’”:

The Two Rebeccas
Rebecca Cox Jackson and her partner Rebecca Perot, known as “the two Rebeccas,” founded a Shaker religious community in the 1800s in Philadelphia.

Learn more:
“The Two Rebeccas: Queer black pair founded Shaker religious community in 1800s”:

Walatta Petros
Walatta Petros was a 17 th century Ethiopian nun who led a successful movement to preserve African Christian beliefs against European efforts to convert Ethiopians from their ancient form of Christianity.

Learn more:
“Walatta Petros: African nun and saint with a female partner in 17th-century”:

Top L-R: Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Amanda S. C. Gorman, Aminatta Forna, Amiri Baraka, Angel Nafis, Angelina Weld Grimke, Assotto Saint, Audre Lorde, Britteney Black Rose Kapri, Chinua Achebe

Middle L-R: Danez Smith, Dawn Lundy Martin, Donika Kelly, Essex Hemphill, James Baldwin, Jericho Brown, Julian Randall, June Jordan, Justin Phillip Reed, Kemi Alabi, L. Lamar Wilson

Bottom L-R: Mariama Ba, Nikki Giovanni, Nuruddin Farah, Octavia Butler, Pat Parker, r. erica doyle, Rickey, Laurentis, Saeed Jones’, Xandria Phillips

This week, we honor Black literary legends of yesterday and today. Through poetry and prose, activism and art, these writers have engaged with the struggles of the past and present, envisioned the possibilities of the future and confronted the trauma of oppression and violence.

Note that some poetry and prose selections may include strong language, violent images or sexual images. 

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson was a bisexual and biracial activist, teacher and writer in the early 20th century. She was the first African American woman to publish a collection of short stories.

“Queer Women History Forgot: Alice Dunbar-Nelson”

Amanda Gorman
Amanda S. C. Gorman is an American poet and activist whose work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.

Read “The Hill We Climb” Inaugural Poem 

Learn more:

Aminatta Forna
Aminatta Forna is a Scottish and Sierra Leonean writer, founder of the Rogbonko Project and an advocate for education, sanitation and maternal health in Africa.

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Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka, previously known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka, was an American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism. He was the co-founder of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s that was dedicated to creating art that fought for Black liberation.

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Angel Nafis
Angel Nafis is a Black, feminist American poet, curator, teacher and performer who was awarded a Creative Writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Listen to Angel Nafis

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Angelina Weld Grimke
Angelina Weld Grimke, daughter of the second African American to attend Harvard Law School, was an American journalist, teacher, playwright and poet who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. It’s widely believed that Angelina was a lesbian or bisexual, something affirmed by her poems and letters.

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Assotto Saint
Assotto Saint was a Black Haitian-born and New York-based poet, performance artist, singer and founder of a theater that exclusively produced performances written by and about Black gay men. Saint was one of the first Black gay activists to publicly disclose his HIV status in the 1980s.

Learn more:
“Remembering Assotto Saint: A Fierce and Fatal Vision”

Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist and civil rights activist who described herself as “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Lorde was recognized globally for her activism and was a key voice in 20th century literature.

Read “Power” by Audre Lorde

Learn more:
“With a $2 Million Gift, Spelman Will Launch the First-Ever HBCU Queer Studies Chair in Honor of Audre Lorde”

Britteney Black Rose Kapri
Britteney Black Rose Kapri is a Chicago-based poet, performer, playwright and teaching artist whose work focuses on sexuality through a Black, queer and feminist lens.

Read “purple”

Chinua Achebe
Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart, often considered his masterpiece, is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

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Danez Smith 
Danez Smith is a Black, queer, nonbinary, openly HIV-positive writer, poet and performer. Their work focuses on race, police brutality and gender.

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Dawn Lundy Martin 
Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist and activist whose poems often depict the beauty and struggle of Black queer life. Martin has received numerous awards for her powerful words.

Read Dawn Lundy Martin’s letter to her younger self

Learn more:
“The Rumpus interview with Dawn Lundy Martin”

Donika Kelly
Donika Kelly is a Black lesbian poet and creative writing assistant professor. She is best known for her poetry collection called “Bestiary.”

Hear Donika Kelly “The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.”

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Essex Hemphill 
Essex Hemphill was an openly gay American poet, performer and activist known for addressing race, identity, sexuality, HIV/AIDS and the family in his work. Hemphill received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the Pew Charitable Trust Fellowship in the Arts and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Read “American Wedding” by Essex Hemphill

Learn more:
National Museum of African-American History: Essex Hemphill

James Baldwin
James Baldwin was a gay American poet, novelist, activist and playwright whose work often depicted the complicated intersections between racial, sexual and social issues. He is known as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century with much of his work focused on the Black American experience during the mid-late 1900s.

Listen to “Reimagining The James Baldwin And William F. Buckley Debate”

Learn more:
“James Baldwin the Last Interview and Other Conversations”

Jericho Brown 
Jericho Brown is a gay Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, scholar and director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.

Learn more:
Jericho Brown Website

Julian Randall
Julian Randall is a queer poet from Chicago who has received multiple fellowships and awards for documenting a biracial gay man’s journey navigating race, family and sexuality.

Hear Julian Randall reads “On the Night I Consider Coming Out to My Parents”

Learn more:
Julian Randall Website

June Jordan
June Jordan was one of the most widely-published and highly-acclaimed Jamaican American writers during the civil rights, women’s rights, and sexual freedom movements. Her work explored issues of gender, race and immigration. Jordan identified as bisexual.

Learn more:
National Museum of African American History and Culture: June Jordan

Justin Phillip Reed
Justin Phillip Reed is a gay American poet, essayist and novelist, best known for his National Book Award-winning debut poetry collection Indecency.

Read “Pushing Up Onto Its Elbows, the Fable Lifts Itself Into Fact”

Learn more:
Justin Phillip Reed – website

Kemi Alabi
Kemi Alabi (they/them) is a Chicago-based writer and cultural strategist. They were nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and the Brittle Paper Award.

Read two poems by Kemi Alabi

Learn more:
Kemi Alabi – website

L. Lamar Wilson
L. Lamar Wilson is an award-winning black, queer and disabled poet and writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Read “We Do Not Know Her Name”

Learn more:
The Ubuntu Biography Project: L. Lamar Wilson

Mariama Ba
Mariama Ba was a Muslim Senegalese author and feminist whose writing advocated for African women and addressed issues of polygamy and the caste system.

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Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor. She has won seven NAACP Image Awards, has been nominated for a Grammy, was a finalist for the National Book Award and has authored three New York Times and Los Angeles Times best sellers.

Learn more:
Read “BLK History Month” by Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni – website

Nuruddin Farah
Nuruddin Farash is a Somali novelist and playwright whose work portrays powerful stories on feminism, life under an African dictatorship and stories of exile.

Learn more:

Octavia Butler
Octavia E. Butler was a Black, lesbian science fiction writer who blended science fiction with African American spiritualism. Butler became the first ever science fiction writer to receive a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

Learn more:
“This black lesbian became a giant in her field no matter what her critics threw at her”

Pat Parker
Pat Parker was an African American lesbian feminist poet, performer and activist, whose poems were informed by these intersecting identities and her difficult upbringing.

Listen to Pat Parker perform “Where Will You Be”

Learn more:
The Legacy Project: Pat Parker

r. erica doyle
r. erica doyle was born in Brooklyn to Trinidadian parents and her poetry collection proxy won the 2014 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America and was a Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry.

Learn more:
Erica Doyle – Website

Rickey Laurentis
Rickey Laurentis, trans author and poet, was born in New Orleans in 1989. Their writing has been supported by several fellowships and foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whiting Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy and the Cave Canem Foundation.

Watch “Vulnerability, or Riding with Death”

Learn more:
Rickey Laurentis – Website

Saeed Jones
Saeed Jones is a poet whose work focuses on themes of sexuality, transformation, manhood, intimacy, race and power, and often incorporate elements of mythology. He has received the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, the Pushcart Prize, the Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award, the Publishing Triangle and a Cave Canem fellowship.

Read “Kudzu”

Learn more:
Saeed Jones’ Website

Sapphire (born Ramona Lofton) is an author from California celebrated for focus on alarming inner city realities, highlighted in her novelPush. The story served as the inspiration for the feature film Precious, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and went on to win many other film awards.

Sapphire’s Story: How ‘Push’Became ‘Precious’

Staceyann Chin
Staceyann Chin is a Jamaican American writer, spoken word artist, activist and American Book Award winner for her collection of poetry, Crossfire: A Litany for Survival. She is known for her appearances on Def Poetry Jam and in her one-woman show Motherstruck!

“In Crossfire, Staceyann Chin Observes and Denounces Obstacles to Loving the Self”

Xandria Phillips
Xandria Phillips is a writer and abstract artist from Ohio. She is a Judith A. Markowitz Award Winner for emerging writers, and has received fellowships from Oberlin College, Cave Canem, Callaloo, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University.

Watch Xandria Phillips read “Without A Black Mother”

Learn more:
Xandria Phillips’ Website

More Resources on Black Writers and Poets:
“Best Black queer books, according to Black LGBTQ leaders”

“A Brief History Of Queer Young Adult Literature” – touching on Rosa Guy’s Ruby, the first young adult novel to center a queer teen of color

Top L-R: Bessie Smith

Middle L-R: Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter, Bill T. Jones, Cheryl Dunye, Dee Rees, Emile Griffith, Lena Waithe

Bottom L-R: Lucille Bogan, Lucy Hicks Anderson, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Gladys Bentley, Marlon Riggs, Juliana Huxtable, Justin Simien, Sir Lady Java, Laverne Cox

It’s impossible to imagine American culture without the contributions of Black actors, singers, songwriters, directors, choreographers and athletes. These trailblazers and game changers have used song , dance, film , photography , performance and athleticism as beautiful acts of resistance showing the world the meaning of Black joy in the past, present and future.

Alberta Hunter
Alberta Hunter was a lesbian jazz and blues singer and songwriter who achieved international fame in the 1930s for her vigorous and rhythmically infectious style. After twenty years working as a well-respected nurse, Hunter enjoyed a resurgence of celebrity in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Learn more:
Memphis Hall of Fame: Alberta Hunter

Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith, nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues” lived openly as bisexual and was the highest-paid African American blues singer during the Jazz Age. Her commanding vocals insisted on the importance of the lyrics which highlighted her life as a young, black, poor woman.

Learn more:
“Forebears: Bessie Smith, The Empress Of The Blues”

Bill T. Jones
Bill T. Jones, born William Tass Jones, is an American choreographer, film director, author, dancer and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. He has received major honors , including the National Medal of Arts, the MacArthur “Genius” Award and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

Learn more:
“Bill T. Jones: The dancer, the singer, the cellist … and a moment of creative magic”

Cheryl Dunye
Cheryl Dunye is a Liberian – born American film director, producer, screenwriter, editor and actress who is best known for directing The Watermelon Woman – the first feature film directed by a Black lesbian. The film is considered a landmark in New Queer Cinema.

Learn more:
“Cheryl Dunye: Bringing Queer Blackness to the Forefront”

Dee Rees
Mentored by Spike Lee, Dee Rees is an award – winning writer and director, celebrated for her lesbian coming – of – age film Pariah and the Oscar – nominated Mudbound. Learn more: “Dee Rees and the Art of Surviving as a Black Female Director”

Emile Griffith
Emile Griffith was a bisexual professional boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands , who became a World Champion in the welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight classes. Griffith’s boxing career was overshadowed by his Madison Square Garden knockout of Benny Paret, who died from a concussion ten days after the fight.

Learn more:
“Emile Griffith, Boxer Who Unleashed a Fatal Barrage, Dies at 75”
“A word that haunts us all”

Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters was an American singer and actress known for her full-bodied voice, wide range and slow vibrato, who frequently performed jazz, swing and pop music on Broadway and in films , starting in the 1920s. She is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and has been nominated for an Emmy and an Academy award.

Learn more:
National Museum of African American History and Culture : Ethel Waters

Gladys Bentley
Gladys Alberta Bentley, eldest of four from a Trinidadian immigrant family, joined New York’s Harlem Renaissance jazz scene at the age of 16 and became an instant success after performing at gay speakeasy Harry Hansberry’s Clam House in New York in the 1920s. She was a black, lesbian, cross-dressing blues singer and pianist.

Listen to Gladys Bentley’s “Worried Blues”

Learn more:
“Gladys Bentley: Gender-Bending Performer and Musician | Unladylike2020 | American Masters | PBS”

Juliana Huxtable
Juliana Huxtable is a multidisciplinary artist whose work includes DJ’ing, photography, music, painting and writing. Her art focuses on gender fluidity, trans identity, drug addiction, vulnerability, motherhood and trauma.

Learn more:
Watch PBS: THE “C” FILES WITH MARIA BRITO “Juliana Huxtable and Swoon”

Justin Simien
Justin Simien is a queer, black filmmaker, actor and author, best known for his movie Dear White People, which won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Learn more:
“Justin Simien: Being Queer Is ‘Like a Superpower’“

Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is an American actress and LGBT advocate, best known for her role breakout role in Orange Is The New Black. She was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award .

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Lena Waithe
Lena Waithe is an American screenwriter, producer, actress and Primetime Emmy Award winner known for creating the Showtime shows The Chi, Boomerang and Twenties.

Learn more:
“Why Lena Waithe says being a Black queer woman has helped her in Hollywood”

Lucille Bogan
Lucille Bogan (pseudonym Bessie Jackson) is considered one of “the big three of the blues,” along with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, was an American classic blues singer and songwriter and one of the first to be recorded.

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Lucy Hicks Anderson
Lucy Hicks Anderson was a socialite and chef . Born in 1886, she was assigned male at birth, but identified as a woman – decades before the term transgender came into existence .

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Ma Rainey
Gertrude Ma Rainey, the “Mother of the Blues” was a professional African American blues singer known for her authentic expression of southern blues and for being one of the first Black recording artists in history. She was known for her bisexual and lesbian – affirming songs.

Learn more:
Overlooked No More: Ma Rainey, the ‘Mother of the Blues’

Marlon Riggs
Marlon Riggs was an Emmy and Peabody award – winning filmmaker, poet, educator and gay activist . He is known for directing and writing the documentary films Ethnic Notions , Tongues Untied, Color Adjustment , and Black Is…Black Ain’t.

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Sir Lady Java
Sir Lady Java, also known as Lady Java , is an American transgender trailblazer, activist, dancer, singer, comedian and actress, who played a pivotal role in transgender advocacy in the 1960s to 1970s.

Learn more:
“The Untold Truth of Trans Rights Hero Sir Lady Java”

“Sir Lady Java | The History You Didn’t Learn | TIME”

More Resources on Black and LGBT Arts and Entertainment:
Queer Harlem Renaissance : A Prospectus (prod. by Shoga Films)

“All the World’s Our Stage: Four Pioneers of Queer Cinema and Theater Look Back On Their Careers”

Top L-R: Abiy Ahmed Ali , Dr. Agnes Abuom , Asha Haji Elmi , Barbara Smith , Bayard Rustin , Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins , David Kato Kisule , Edith S. Sampson , Ella Baker , Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Middle L-R: Fannie Lou Hamer , Fannie Munlin , Fred Hampton , Jewel Thais-Williams , Kofi Annan , Kylar W. B r oadus , Leymah Gbowee , Mabel Hampton , Mandy Carter , Mary McLeod Bethune , Nadine Smith

Bottom L-R: Paulette Young , Ralph Bunche , Ruby Bridges , Ruth Ellis , Tegla Loroupe , Victor Ochen , Walter Sisulu , Wangari Maathai , William Dorsey Swann (no image found)

Throughout history, Black activists, advocates and peacemakers have passionately fought for the equality and human rights of Black peopl e, in the United States and around the world. Alongside these champions of peace, we honor advocacy organizations whose programs are dedicated to anti-discrimination, education and empowering all people to work for a world free of hate and inequality. 

Abiy Ahmed Ali
Abiy Ahmed Ali is the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in peace and international cooperation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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Agnes Abuom
Dr. Agnes Abuom is the first African woman to serve as the moderator for the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya.

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Asha Haji Elmi
Asha Haji Elmi is a Somali politician and peace activist whose work focuses on women as key actors in global peacemaking .

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Barbara Smith
Barbara Smith is an American lesbian feminist who has played a significant role in Black feminism in the United States since the 1970s.

Learn more:
“Where Would Black Feminism Be Today If It Wasn’t for Barbara Smith”

Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin was an American civil rights activist and advocate for nonviolen t protest and gay rights. He was an adviser to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , and one of the main organizers of the March on Washington in 1963.

Learn more:
“Bayard Rustin: Gay saint of racial justice and non-violence”

Bonnie Jenkins
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins is a former diplomat and founder of “ Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation ” (WCAPS).

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David Kato
David Kato Kisule was a Ugandan teacher and LGBT rights activist . He is considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights movement.

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Edith S. Sampson
Edith S. Sampson was a lawyer, judge and the first African American delegate appointed to the United Nations in 1950.

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Ella Baker
Ella Baker was an African American civil rights activist and community organizer. She was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Learn more:
Listen to a tribute to her work.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Liberian politician and became the first female head of state in Africa when she was elected president in 2006. In 2011, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy for women’s rights.

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Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was an African American civil rights activist. Her advocacy focused on voting rights, women’s rights and community organizing.

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Fannie Munlin
Fannie Munlin is a global peace activist and the main UN representative for the National Council of Negro Women. As President of the UN’s NGO Executive Committee, she liaises between the global civil society community and the UN.

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Fred Hampton
Fred Hampton was an American activist, NAACP leader and chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s.

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Jewel Thais-Williams
Jewel Thais-Williams is the founder of Catch One, the oldest Black-owned disco in America that provided a safe haven for L.A.’s LGBT for 42 years until its closure in 2015 .

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Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat and served as the seven th secretary general of the U N. In 2011, the Nobel Committee honored his work for human rights by awarding him, alongside the UN, the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Kylar Broadus
Kylar W. B r oadus is an attorney and trans rights activist who was the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate. In 2010, he founded the Trans People of Color Coalition .

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Leymah Gbowee
Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist and leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.

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Mabel Hampton
Mabel Hampton was a lesbian activist for LGBT rights and a singer and dancer at the time of the Harlem Renaissance in NYC .

Learn more:
Listen to Mabel Hampton Oral History

Mandy Carter
Mandy Carter is an American black LGBT rights activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize as one of the “1000 Women for Nobel Peace Prize” in 2005.

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Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, presidential advisor and the only woman of color at the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945.

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Nadine Smith
Nadine Smith is an LGBT activist, journalist and the executive d irector of Equality Florida .

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Paulette Young
Paulette Young is an LGBT activist and co-founder of the Pride Center of Maryland.

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Ralph Bunche
Ralph Bunche was a diplomat and the first African American to receive the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as mediator between Israelis and Arabs in the late 1940s.

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Ruby Bridges
Ruby Bridges is an American civil rights activist . In 1960, she was the first African American student to integrate an all-white elementary school in Louisiana.

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Ruth Ellis
Ruth Ellis was an LGBT activist and icon. She and her partner offered their home in Detroit as a safe haven for queer African Americans.

Learn more:
Hear what activist Ruth Ellis gave Detroit’s LGBTQ community

Tegla Loroupe
Tegla Loroupe is a Kenyan long – distance runner and advocate for women’s rights, peace and education.

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Victor Ochen
Victor Ochen is a Ugandan peace activist, Nobel Prize nominee and founder of the African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET).

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Walter Sisulu
Walter Sisulu was a South African anti-apartheid activist, member of the African National Congress and lifelong friend of Nelson Mandela.

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Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan political activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.

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William Dorsey Swann
William Dorsey Swann, born in the 19th century into slavery , was the first American to lead a queer rebellion group, hold gatherings and organize drag balls.

Learn more:
“William Dorsey Swann: Ex-slave fought for queer freedom in 1880s as America’s first drag queen”

Advocacy Organizations

Audre Lorde Project
The Audre Lorde Project is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, the Audrey Lorde Project work s for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. [Adapted from the organization’s website.]

August Wilson Red Door Project
The mission of the Red Door Project is to change racial ecology through the arts. The Red Door Project is founded on the belief that with the right education, exposure and support, everyone is capable of growing their capacity to create, to achieve and to thrive. And this belief is the driving philosophy – the core of everything we do. [Adapted from the organization’s website.]

Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice
The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice is a communit y center dedicated to education and activism for LGBT rights and protections. It provides a safe gathering space for LGBT people.

Black and Pink National
Black and Pink National is a prison abolitionist organization dedicated to abolishing the criminal punishment system and liberating LGBTQIA2S+ people and people living with HIV/AIDS who are affected by that system through advocacy, support, and organizing. [From the organization’s website.]

Black Trans Advocacy Coalition
The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition is a  trans – led social justice org anization focused on ending poverty and all forms of discrimination to improve the lived experience of Black trans people .

Equal Justice Initiative
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. [From the organization’s website.]

Faith-Based Anti-Racism Coalition (People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond)
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a national, multiracial, anti-racist collective of organizers and educators, is dedicated to building a movement for social transformation. [From the organization’s website.]

Freedom Center for Social Justice
The Freedom Center for Social Justice (FCSJ) is a culture-shifting organization committed to the growth, safety and empowerment of marginalized populations. Their vision is a world where equal protections and opportunities exist for all. Through advocacy, community education and faith-based organizing, they are committed to providing support that opens doors, raises awareness and creates life-giving change. [Adapted from the organization’s website.]

Marsha P. Johnson Institute
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of B lack transgender people . They do this by organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership and promoting [our] collective power. [Adapted from the organization’s website.]

Ruth Ellis Center
Founded in 1999, the Ruth Ellis Center (REC) provides trauma-informed services for lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth and young adults, with an emphasis on young people of color, experiencing homelessness, involved in the child welfare system and/or experiencing barriers to health and wellbeing. [Adapted from the organization’s website.]

Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center
The Ruth Clairmount Center, anticipated to open 2022, will offer permanent supportive housing, a health clinic and community space for LGBT youth in Detroit.

“Ruth Ellis Center breaks ground on housing development and health clinic for LGBTQ youth”

The National Black Justice Coalition

The National Black Justice Coalition is a civil rights organization focused on empowerment and equality for Black LGBT people.

Okra Project
The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black trans people by providing home – cooked, healthy and culturally specific meals and resources to Black trans people.

Images used for educational/non-commercial use only.
Images that are not public domain, please see creative commons licenses:

Other images Credits:

Rev. Delores Berry

Grant Michael Fitzgerald SDS

Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé

Peter J. Gomes

The Two Rebecca’s

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
Photograph: Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy

Assotto Saint

Britteney Black Rose Kapri

Donika Kelly
Photograph: Ladan Osman

Jericho Brown
Photograph: Brian Cornelius

Julian Randall

Justin Phillip Reed

Kemi Alabi
Photograph: Ally Almore

L. Lamar Wilson

R. Erica Doyle

Ricky Laurentiis

Sir Lady Java
Transas City

Lucy Hicks Anderson

Fannie Munlin
Dulcie Leimbach

Jewel Thais-Williams

Kylar Broadus
Photo by Danielle Levitt for OUT Magazine

Paulette Young

Victor Ochen