In August 1983, in response to a coordinated campaign involving many national and international organizations, for the first time, Mrs. King went public in support of civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians. The coordinated campaign was led by NCBLG, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and local members of the DC Chapter of NCBLG, the DC Coalition of Black Gay Men and Women. Mrs. King went before the national press, in the Mayor's Conference Room at the District Building (now the John Wilson Building), and said that in 1964 "we passed the Civil Rights Bill" and it is now time to amend it to include gays and lesbians as a protected class. The efforts of then NCBLG Executive Director, Gil Gerald, and that of others, has been told in several publications, including but not limited to: Gerald G, The Trouble I’ve Seen, Freedom in this Village, E. Lynn Harris, editor, Harris, Carrol & Graff Publishers, 2005. That article by Gil Gerald was first published in the NCBLG Newsmagazine, Black/Out, Volume 1, Number 3/4, 1987, page 23. The referenced photo shows Gil Gerald, Ginny Appuzo, then Executive Director of NGTLF, Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, and Mrs. King.
The Collective Memory of the Founders
This page offers first hand narrations of NCBLG's history from the perspectives of Founders. The information presented on this page becomes part of our collective recollection and serves as raw data for future research, publishing, and for exhibits on this site. Use of this information for such purposes should include due diligence in fact checking through information available at this site, such as in the Digital Archives, accessible to registered users of this site, or from other sources. To post an article on this site (registered users only), we have instructions you may find useful. Non-registered users may post comments using the links provided below each article.
Photo by Jim Marks, Washington Blade. Pictured, Gil Gerald, Rev. Carl Bean, Fred Garnett, Dr. C. Everett Koop, Suki Ports, Amanda Houston Hamilton, and Paul Kawata.
In 1986, NCBLG's Executive Director Gil Gerald was concerned about the lack of a national response to HIV and AIDS in the Black community. In addition to obtaining resources from the US Department of Health and Human Services to sponsor a National Conference on AIDS in the Black Community, Mr. Gerald sought to meet with the Surgeon General who was then engaged in an effort to write and publish the Surgeon General's Report on AIDS.
The work of the Surgeon General was controversial in that he was proposing to mail it to every household in the US, much like the government sends tax forms to every household every year. Many conservatives in Congress were adamantly opposed, and the White House, under President Ronald Reagan, was not out front on the issue, to say the least. Mr. Gerald sought to make it clear to the Surgeon General how important it was to highlight the impact of the epidemic on African Americans.
The Surgeon General's Office responded by inviting Mr. Gerald to meet with Dr. C. Everett Koop. The meeting was arranged for lunchtime, on the same day as the National Conference on AIDS in the Black Community at the DC Convention Center. During lunch, which was being keynoted by DC Mayor Marion Barry, Gil Gerald assembled an ad-hoc group from around the country to join him in meeting with the Surgeon General. The group included, Fred Garnett, a nationally prominent PWLA at the time, Dr. Amanda Houston Hamilton from San Francisco, then involved in community-based research about HIV in the Black community, Rev. Carl Bean, then Executive Director of the Minority AIDS Project in Los Angeles, Suki Ports, then Executive Director of the Minority Task Force on AIDS in NY, and Paul Kawata, then Executive Director of the newly formed National AIDS Network.
Members of the community originally associated and not originally associated with the Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) reference this meeting as one of the milestones in organizing NMAC and there is a great deal of truth to that. While the process of forming NMAC happened overtime, Amanda Houston Hamilton recalls that after we got in the taxi heading to the meeting I asked what should we call this group, and the response was National Minority AIDS Council. The actual incorporation of that organization would follow some time later. However, the record, as illustrated in the advertising for the Conference, in the Summer 1986 issue of Black/Out, on the back cover, indicates that by then, a number of us were calling ourselves the National Minority AIDS Council, and that NMAC was listed as a co-sponsor of the National Conference on AIDS in the Black Community. My memory had failed me, but I have been reminded that I was the incorporating officer of NMAC when it finally became incorporated.
During the meeting with Dr. Koop, my fondest recollection is him thanking us for the information and indicating that he had a scheduled meeting at the White House coming up where he would convey our concerns. He indicated that he was meeting with the "most important person there," and that it was not the President. No one asked, and Gil Gerald did not really want to inquire any further about who that person might be. A contemporary news article about the Conference and the meeting with Dr. Koop was published in several periodicals, including the Washington Blade, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and one by Guy Weston, published in NCBLG's Blackout magazine. There was follow-up correspondencewith Dr. Koop, after his office invited Gil Gerald to be present at the press conference releasing the Surgeon Generals Report on AIDS.
Please Post Your Comments and Recollections about 1978. Be as detailed as possible, including dates and locations and individuals involved. With the help of the site administrator you can include links to documents that are to be uploaded to the Archives. These documents can also be photos and video clips. Some highlights of 1978 included: an announcement of the new organizing efforts appearing the in local DC LGBT press; early meetings that occurred in the DC-Baltimore area; a reception held for mayoral candidates in Washington, DC, at which Statehood Party candidate Hilda Mason attended; and the endorsement by the Coalition of Sterling Tucker for Mayor of DC.
Please Post Your Comments and Recollections about 1979. Be as detailed as possible, including dates and locations and individuals involved. With the help of the site administrator you can include links to documents that are to be uploaded to the Archives. These documents can also be photos and video clips. Some highlights for 1979, included: The National Conference of Third Wold Lesbians and Gays, at Harambee House, now the Howard Inn at Howard University; the strained relationship between NCBG and the organizers of the 1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; the marching of Conference participants from the Howard Inn, down Georgia Avenue and 7th. Street to join the rest of the contingent in 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; the meeting of the Coalition with the White House Staff; the press conference following the meeting with White House Staff; and the emergence of our first motto, "As Proud of our Gayness as We Are of Our Blackness."
Please Post Your Comments and Recollections About 1980. Be as detailed as possible, including dates and locations and individuals involved. With the help of the site administrator you can include links to documents that are to be uploaded to the Archives. These documents can also be photos and video clips. Some milestones in 1980 included: the first NCBLG Conference, held Philadelphia, PA;and Melvin Boozer's speech before the Democratic National Convention in NY.