While I’m siting in another exciting program at this moment, thought I’d tell y’all about yesterday’s DC events. .
As y’all have been discovering during the updates, I’ve been having a blast at the second annual NBJC OUT on the Hill event in our nation’s capitol that is dovetailing with the 41st annual CBCF-ALC.
Friday dawned cool and cloudy as I headed out the door to the Convention Center and the NBJC sponsored panel discussion that was set to kick off at 9:00 AM entitled ‘From Civil Rights To LGBT Equality’
The panel was co moderated by ESPN’s LZ Granderson and Detroit City Council president Charles Pugh with the participants being Phill Wilson, Dr. Cathy Cohen, Valerie Spencer, filmmaker Maurice Jamal, ‘My Princess Boy’ author Cheryl Kilodavis, and GLSEN board member Sirdeaner Walker.
The start of the panel discussion was delayed a few minutes in order to allow the students from Norfolk State University to arrive at the venue and hear the discussion in its entirety.
Once our students arrived and NBJC CEO and ED Lettman-Hicks gave the opening remarks, the moderated discussion began in earnest. It touched on a wide variety of subjects such as the bullying that prompted Ms.Walker’s son Carl on April 6, 2009 to take his own life, Kilodavis speaking about her son Dyson and her journey towards being the best mother she can be for her child with her proud parents in the audience, Valerie keeping it real on the trans related portion of it, and Phill Wilson reminding us that HIV/AIDS is still around 30 years later and the disease has a disproportionately Black face to it..
Speaking of people in the audience, NBJC founders Mandy Carter, Dr Sylvia Rhue and Keith Boykin were in the room to witness this panel as well.
The discussion also talked about media images, The Safe Schools Improvement Act, and a spirited debate on the ‘Black people are uniquely homophobic’ myth. It also contained a humorous moment in which Valerie was taking about in relation to trans issues having the courage and pride to be your authentic self to which Charles Pugh wryly remarked,”Does that include the Indian hair you’re wearing on your head?
Ouch. Val walked right into that one. Of course, Valerie is lying in wait for an opportunity to read him back when he least expects it.
But that moment quickly turned into a serious tear jerking emotion choked one when Ms Walker was the final person on the panel to make her closing statement. She responded with a moving standing ovation receiving tribute to her son Carl and a plea for us to do more to protect all our kids from the scourge of bullying.
NBJC also donated a check to the Carl Walker-Hoover Foundation before photos were taken of the panel, the board of directors, and the NBJC advisory board. There’s also a possible future photo of me and Valerie.
At this point everyone breaks for lunch and I decided to kill time and and hang out with the people working the NBJC booth in the vendor area while waiting to see how Cheryl’s ‘My Princess Boy’ book signing turned out. When I checked on her she was being interviewed by a local television station and the No More Down Low TV cameraman who has been documenting the happenings of the OUT on the Hill conference since it started.
It’s several hours until the CBCF Foundation Chairman’s Reception starts at 5 PM, but I was planning to go to the NBJC one at the hotel in Arlington, VA that started an hour later. Since I had the invite to it in my grab bag, decided not to let it go to waste and checked it out for an hour until it was time to hop the Yellow line to the Crystal City station, hang with the NBJC peeps and get my grub on.
The food selection included crab cakes, and sure did help myself to them. Crab cakes are as indigenous to the DC-Maryland area as barbecue is to my home state and it would have been a crime not to partake in them. Yep, they were good as advertised. So was the jazz ensemble band with a very familiar vocalist to us.
We had once again some great food, great times and I got challenged by ED Lettman-Hicks at the dinner table to make a personal blog project happen by January 1, 2012.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s hard to believe that the time I’m spending with these wonderful people will soon be coming to an end.
Oh well, have today and Sunday to make the most of it.