Last year, Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas visited the University of Georgia in Athens to discuss immigration reform with students.
His talk came on the heels of Georgia legislature’s passage of a controversial immigration law that included alleged racial profiling and the “show me your papers” provision.
At UGA, Vargas said he had a conversation with a student that has stuck with him as one of the most memorable he’s ever had.
“This young man raised his hand and identified himself as a young Republican. We had a really great exchange and toward the end I asked him where he was from. He said, ‘What do you mean? I’m American.’ I asked him again, though, where he was from. He goes, ‘I’m white.’ But white is not a place. I asked him again where he was from and he didn’t know,” Vargas said.
This year the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force celebrates its 40th anniversary and its Creating Change Conference marks its silver anniversary this month in Atlanta. In the 2012 election, three states passed marriage equality laws, voters defeated an anti-gay amendment in another state and there are more openly gay members in Congress.
This is a good time to be part of the LGBT movement.
“We have a lot to celebrate this year and that’s not always been the case. Many years we’ve been licking our wounds,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the Task Force.
The Creating Change Conference, billed as the “nation's pre-eminent political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBT social justice movement,” comes to Atlanta in January to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The massive event is sponsored by the National Lesbian & Gay Task Force.
Michael Shutt, a member of the host committee and the director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Life at Emory University, said now is the time for Creating Change to come to the Southeast.
“The conference has not been in Atlanta since 2000 and so much has changed in the city and the region. This is an opportunity to bring many communities together to learn, engage in skills building, and network,” he said.