Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, jump-started the Audre Lorde Historically Black Colleges & Universities Summit with a compelling bit of trivia.
“As we celebrate our 130th anniversary and founding by two women who lived, themselves, in life-long partnership, it seems appropriate that [Spelman] should be a leader in creating more inclusive environments for our LGBT students,” Tatum said.
That public acknowledgement that Sophia Packard and Harriett Giles, co-organizers of the acclaimed all women’s college, lived as domestic partners set the stage to explore the complex relationships LGBT people share in both attending and working for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Fast forward in time and it is clear how highly publicized incidents like the 2002 beating of a Morehouse student allegedly motivated by homophobia, combined with greater media attention surrounding suicide-related deaths among LGBT youth, have sparked much needed dialogue regarding issues of gender and sexuality at HBCU campuses.
It’s the second annual Pride Week at Spelman College sponsored by the college’s LGBT organization Afrekete — “Atlanta University Center’s single organization for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer, questioning women, and our sister allies.”
Joining in on the programming with Afrekete are the men of Morehouse College's Safe Space program as the two organizations work to address homophobia and debunk stereotypes at the historically black colleges.
Today at 6:30 p.m. Spelman hosts a panel discussion titled, “Homophobia: An International Perspective.”
Kevin Webb and Jeshawna Wholley have been invited by President Obama’s administration to attend today’s White House reception for LGBT Pride Month, according to a press release from the students.