Archive for March, 2010



WHEN: Wednesday, March 24 6 PM to 7:30 PM

WHERE: LA City Hall, South Entrance 1st St. between Spring & Main

A Stand for Justice

Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to attend this protest against the anti-gay (LGBT) legislation currently being considered in Uganda. The demonstration has been organized by high school student Laura Smyth, to speak out against the proposed bill which would make being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender punishable by death — it is effectively a mandate for the mass slaughter of LGBT citizens.

{{{{{Rex feels the need to insert information about the bill. The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009″ would imprison for life anyone convicted of “the offense of homosexuality,” punish “aggravated homosexuality” — including repeat offenders and anyone who is HIV-positive and has gay sex — with the death penalty, forbid “promotion of homosexuality” and incarcerate gay-rights defenders, and jail individuals in positions of authority for up to three years if they fail to report within 24 hours the existence of all LGBT people or sympathizers known to them. We now return to our regularly scheduled press-release program…}}}}}

The legislation would also target individuals or organizations that support LGBT people (which extends to AIDS prevention and treatment organizations).

“There are many people who still have no idea that this legislation exists, and we need to raise awareness within our communities,” says Laura. “It is crucial that we speak out to prevent the legalization of government-sanctioned slaughter

- Speakers will include youth and adults alike:

o Robin Tyler
o Bamby Salcedo
o Reverend Neil Thomas
o Rodney Scott
o Beth Grant
o Armen Sarkissian
o Ariel Bustamante
o Isaiah Baiseri
o Estuardo Munoz

Supported by Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Equal Roots, Equality California, Lifeworks, Equal Action, and dozens of other organizations and gay-straight alliances.

Links to articles regarding the proposed legislation:

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Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due.

In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.*

The Barbara Jordan / Bayard Rustin Coalition will be holding its 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration and Awards Ceremony on Saturday June 19, 2010 at the lovely home of Ed Weinberger and Danny Gibson in Hancock Park!  Please contact for more information.

*This text originally appeared at

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Upcoming Community Events

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sherryl lee ralph event

Courage Campaign

We’re delighted to share this message with you from Lisa Powell, co-founder of Camp Courage, as well as  Black Lesbians United.

Lisa’s life was transformed by working as a Deputy Field Organizer for the Obama campaign, where she first  experienced the power of Camp Obama. In January 2009, she joined fellow Obama veterans Torie Osborn and  Mike Bonin in the creation of Camp Courage, which has now trained more than 1,400 organizers. Lisa is  excited to extend an invitation to you to join her at Camp Courage South LA in April.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign

How powerful is Camp Courage?

“At any time throughout the day I could look around the room and see a smile on someone’s face, a tear running down their cheek, and the wheels turning in their head. Every moment, you could look to your left and look to your right and know that you were sitting next to a fellow soldier, someone that will be, or is, in the trenches with you fighting in the name of justice. How powerful is that?” — Sara P., a participant at Camp Courage

As one participant at our first Camp Courage said, it is a “magical and life-changing” event — a shining experience that is bringing Obama-style organizing into the movement for equality.

And now, Camp Courage is coming to South LA. On the weekend of April 10-11, activists from our neighborhoods will be gathering in Watts to learn how we can bring full equality — social, economic and racial — to Los Angeles.

Camp Courage South LA will focus primarily on issues of concern to the black community and we hope that African-Americans from all over the Southland will participate. South LA is a very diverse community, of course, and people from all backgrounds are welcome to attend. Everyone who cares about organizing for equality — especially in communities of color — should be there.

In the new post-Obama world we have a chance to create lasting change by using the same inspired organizing strategies that propelled President Obama into office. At this moment, the black community is facing historic challenges — challenges that require all of us to come together with new purpose and a new perspective. This is why Camp Courage South LA is, in many ways, our most important training to date.

On April 10-11, I want you to be at Camp Courage South Los Angeles. But first, we need you to sign up. Space is limited, so please click here to watch video highlights of our first Camp Courage and then RSVP before the event is full:

Modeled on the “Camp Obama” trainings that fueled President Obama’s campaign in 2008, Camp Courage uses the “Story of Self” to transform personal experiences — each participant’s unique inspiration for supporting fairness and equality — into compelling and authentic narratives that build the progressive movement.

Several amazing and diverse organizations will be represented at Camp Courage South LA, supporting the event or sending staff to participate or present:

  • Black AIDS Institute
  • Black Lesbians United
  • California Assembly Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass
  • Community Coalition
  • F.A.I.R.
  • Green Dot Public Schools
  • Here to Stay Coalition
  • In the Meantime Men’s Group
  • Jordan Rustin Coalition
  • L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry
  • L.A. County Federation of Labor
  • Liberty Hill Foundation
  • Manifest Equality
  • Max Mutchnick & Erik Hyman
  • National Action Network
  • Ronald Dumont
  • S.A.M.E. Santa Barbara/Pacific Pride Foundation
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles

Will you be there? Spots are filling up fast for Camp Courage South LA on April 10-11. Click here to watch video highlights of one of our first Camp Courage and then sign up ASAP:

Thank you for doing your part to build the movement for full equality that will change California and our country. I hope to see you at Camp.

Lisa Powell
Co-Founder, Camp Courage

The Courage Campaign is an online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country.

To power our Camp Courage training program, please chip in what you can today:

*This message originally appeared on the Camp Courage South L.A. website at:

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p1040380Hello fellow activists! My name is Rodney Nickens Jr. and I am the new South L.A. community organizer for the Jordan/Rustin Coalition (JRC). I am originally from Portsmouth, VA, a small town in the Hampton Roads area that is predominantly African-American and middle and working-class, much like many of the communities in South L.A. I grew up in a traditional African-American Southern Baptist church with strong family values, and the constant love and support of my family and community. As a child, my parents worked diligently to instill in me a deep appreciation for African-American history and culture as well as a deep-rooted passion for social justice, civil rights, and public service. When I came out to my family during my first year of college, they were expectedly a little uneasy with it, but despite our religious background and cultural inclinations, my family was nothing less than supportive and loving and gradually became more understanding and accepting.

After high school, I moved to Merced, CA where I attended UC Merced as a member of the first full graduating class. There, I was the Founding President of the African-American Student Association and the Founding Vice-President of the Merced Pre-Law Society, and earned my Bachelor of Arts Degree in U.S. History in May 2009. It was after an internship in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the U.S. Department of Justice that I found my passion for LGBT civil rights after seeing the devastation and heartbreak that the Prop. 8 marriage initiative had caused around the country. In the eve of the 2008 election, I witnessed media coverage of protests and reinvigorated activism taking place in major U.S. cities from coast to coast. I was also fortunate enough to participate in one in our nation’s capital.

Upon returning to California, I interned at the University of California Center Sacramento and worked in the State Capitol for the District Attorney’s Office where I wrote a policy analysis entitled, “Making the Case to Overturn California’s Proposition 8.” In addition to my research, I worked with Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. and Equality California to recruit volunteers and fundraise around the issue of marriage. I am very excited to join this important movement in South L.A. as we work in coalition to build support for the freedom to marry and prepare for the grand opening of our new office in South L.A. Although, we face various obstacles and challenges working in deeply religious communities that are facing a host of significant challenges themselves, dealing with the economic climate as well as various other social ills, I look forward to doing much-needed grassroots organizing in the African-American community to achieve full equality for LGBT people of all backgrounds!

Some of my major goals during the first half of 2010 include: successfully organizing canvasses with our coalition partners in predominantly Black communities, facilitating a “Black Camp Courage” event aimed at recruiting and training new Black LGBT volunteers and activists to our movement, and creating a JRC Religious and Faith-Based Collaborative to further conversations on issues of LGBT equal rights between Black clergy and the LGBT community. In addition to my work with JRC, I am also a graduate student in Afro-American Studies with concentrations in Sociology and Political Science at UCLA where my studies focus on homophobia in the Black community and its relation to gay black activism in California in the Prop. 8 aftermath. For more information on JRC and our upcoming events and activities please subscribe to our mailing list.

Check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

–Rodney K. Nickens Jr.

*This article originally appeared at in the EQCA California Ripple Effect Blog.

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March 4, 2010
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Rodney Nickens Jr.
Mobile: 562-242-8601

JRC Celebrates Enactment of Washington, D.C.’s Marriage Equality Law
The Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition (JRC) celebrates the enactment of historic Marriage Equality legislation in our nation’s capital.  ”As the premiere Black LGBT political organization in Southern California, we congratulate the District of Columbia in providing access to civil marriage to all its residents, the first jurisdiction in the United States with a predominantly Black population to do so” said JRC Board President Ron Buckmire.

Washington, D.C.’s marriage equality legislation became law in spite of desperate efforts by opponents to block its implementation through both legal action and legislative maneuvering in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Supreme Court. At 8:30a.m. March 3, 2010 more than a hundred same-sex couples began lining
up to apply for licenses at the Moultrie Courthouse where the D.C. marriage bureau is located. Under the bill which passed the D.C, City Council 11-2 and was signed into law by Mayor Adrian Fenty on December 18th 2009, the city will recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states and countries, and same-sex couples that wish to marry can now apply for marriage licenses as well.

Last week the Attorney General of the neighboring state of Maryland, Douglas F. Gansler, issued an official opinion which says that the state and its agencies should legally recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions where they are legally permitted. Maryland is estimated to have an overall population which is approximately 30% African American, and there are thousands of Black same-sex couples in counties which border the District who are likely to take advantage of the new law.

Currently Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa all permit and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Internationally, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands all have legalized marriage for same-sex couples and Portugal’s law is expected to go into effect next month.

It is now possible for same-sex couples to be legally married in the capital cities of all three North American nations. On Thursday March 4th, Mexico City, the Federal District of Mexico, became the first jurisdiction in Latin America to permit and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. JRC joins our coalition partners Honor Fund and Latin Equality Alliance in celebrating this milestone event in the Latino community.

“JRC will continue to work to fight for marriage equality to be restored in our own home state of California, as well as identify and support the many legally married same-sex couples who are members of the Black community,” said JRC Community Organizer Rodney Nickens, Jr.

JRC ( exists to empower same-gender loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families in the Greater Los Angeles area, to promote equal marriage rights and to advocate for fair treatment of everyone without regard to race, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

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