One internet search for Mandy Carter reveals why she was the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the LGBT Center of Raleigh. Since receiving the Award at the Banquet in 2010, Mandy has strengthened her efforts to seek justice for racial and gender equality.
This year, Mandy celebrates 45 years of social, racial, and LGBT justice organizing, and it’s almost impossible to summarize all that she has done – beginning with peace activism in the late 1960s and continuing today in her role as National Coordinator for the Bayard Rustin Commemoration Project of the National Black Justice Coalition.
Bayard Rustin was the chief strategist behind the highly successful 1963 March on Washington, but recognition of his effort was ignored because he was a gay man. Mandy was unwilling to let that oversight go because recognizing Bayard Rustin was the right thing to do.
On August 8, 2013, President Barrack Obama announced that Bayard Rustin was among the 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year.
President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours. This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”
“Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity and equality for all” who “stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights,” a White House statement said of Obama’s decision to include Rustin among the honorees.
Many remember that Mandy was a co-founder of Southerners on New Ground (SONG). SONG’s purpose is to build a progressive movement across the South by developing models of organizing that connect race, class, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. She is still quite active with SONG today, traveling across the South to present seminars.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh continues to be very proud of Mandy Carter and continues to recognize her for her Distinguished Service to our Community.
For many, many years, Jimmy Creech had been a staunch advocate for equality for everyone, but early in his career a young man named “Adam” forced Jimmy to evaluate the Methodist Church’s discrimination against lesbians and gay men. His personal belief that all people deserve equal treatment ultimately led to Jimmy being “disciplined” by the Methodist and being “defrocked” of his ministerial credentials.
That experience led to writing the book Adam’s Gift: a Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays which was published by Duke University Press in 2011. Copies of the book are available on Amazon. The LGBT Center of Raleigh’s Library contains several copies of the book and they are available for people to borrow.
Following the publishing of Jimmy’s book and the promotional efforts surrounding it, Jimmy took a year off – curtailing his public appearances in 2013. Still, Jimmy still supports, his wife, Chris Weedy, in all of her social justice efforts. You will remember seeing Jimmy’s and Chris’ names on thousands of red, white, and blue yard signs throughout the Triangle as we fought for marriage equality and against Amendment One. Jimmy and Chris funded those signs from their own pockets – accepting no money for them from anyone.
Jimmy and Chris were visible supporters throughout this summer’s Moral Monday protests. Jimmy says, “The NC General Assembly is regressive and doing great harm to the State.” Yet, he says, “The future is promising and we are approaching some milestones. The DOMA ruling in May is going to have significant impact on the country and how the states are dealing with it. Ultimately we will prevail. We have widely opened the door. Every poll indicates the growing support for marriage equality.”
When people wonder why a very happily-married straight man would fight so hard for LGBT community causes, Jimmy simply responds, “I think I don’t have a choice to be involved. It’s my fight as well as yours.”
The LGBT Center of Raleigh was honored to have Jimmy Creech fighting for us, and we continue to applaud his efforts.
In 2011, the LGBT Center of Raleigh instituted a new award to recognize people who are making a difference in our community’s lives – the Community Impact Award. One such individual stood out and Akil Campbell continues to provide a way to enrich the lives of significant parts of the LGBT community.
While North Carolina Pride has celebrated the lives of LGBT people in North Carolina for many years, some parts of our community still felt marginalized. In an effort to reach them, Akil organized what was then called the “Triangle Black Pride” event. Instead of being a festival and parade, it consisted of helpful workshops and seminars about coping in a world that discriminates against people who find themselves being a minority within a minority.
It soon became apparent that much more of the marginalized community needed this vital information, so TBP organizers changed the name of the event to “Shades of Pride.” It was held in Raleigh at the Crabtree Marriott for several years. In 2013, it moved to Durham where even more people were able to take advantage of it.
Along with his continuing work with Shades of Pride, Akil serves on the Board of Advisors for the National Voices for Education, Equality, and Enlightenment (NVEEE) organization. NVEEE’s anti-bullying campaign, “Not On MY Watch,” has received national attention.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh continues to be very proud of Akil and all of his efforts to make and impact for people in our community.
Art was an advocate for our community from the very beginning. He has donated thousands of hours to the cause of HIV/AIDS and mentored and fostered the Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina (AASC) agency from its inception. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for AASC and its programs. While nurturing AASC, Art joined a group to fund LGBT legal battles in an organized way rather than have each individual obtain his own funding/resources. This became the foundation of the North Carolina Human Rights Fund (NCHRF) which was eventually absorbed into Equality NC during Ian Palmquist’s tenure.
Art provided major support both with his time and finances for Lambda Legal Defense Fund, MAJIC, P-Flag, GLADD, Crape Myrtle Festival, and the Human Rights Campaign to name a few. He was active in many organizations (often behind the scenes) to fight for the rights of the LGBT community. When help was needed, Art was there to lend a hand.
Art also served for 21 years as technical director, host, and major force for Works of Heart (WOH), which was for many years a highlight of the LGBT community calendar. Since its inception in 1991, more than 3,300 pieces of artwork were purchased by Works of Heart patrons, raising over $1 million for the Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolinas. Over 33,000 North Carolinians are living with HIV/AIDS, and the Alliance serves nearly 2,000 individuals living in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Johnston Counties.
Art and his partner, Paul Otto, continue to lend their support to our community in any way they can and have provided an example to all of us, not only in generosity, but in commitment and compassion.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh continues to be proud of Art Sperry and all of the work that he continues to do for us.
After the vote in May 2012 to affirm Amendment One, Madeline Goss, our Community Impact Award recipient for 2012, was invigorated in her efforts to organize and inspire us to be involved with Equality rights. She had been primarily involved in organizing the Phone Bank Campaign for the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families in the 2012 effort.
She tells us that there are even more people deeply involved now in the effort to raise awareness than during the 2012 campaign. The defeat at the polls made more people aware that they must keep equality issues at the forefront of public attention.
Rather than being pessimistic about our political climate, Maddy sees it as an opportunity to make people aware of the many inequalities that our community faces and to change lives. She is still a principle leader for Equality North Carolina and the Human Rights Campaign. She won’t hesitate to “get in the faces” of politicians and political power brokers who refuse to care about people who have difficulty caring for themselves.
Maddy says, “I am encouraged with the Supreme Court’s rulings that invalidated principle parts of the Defense of Marriage Act and its Proposition Eight ruling for the State of California.” But, she says, “I can’t rest until inequality is banished for everyone and am giving a lot of attention now to repealing North Carolina’s marriage inequality amendment and working to adopt an employment non-discrimination act in North Carolina.”
Maddy also serves as an advocate for the Transgender community. She goes around the State presenting seminars and classes that help people understand what “transgender” means and how people can be better allies to the Trans community. She and Rebecca Chapin have held some of those classes at the Center.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh continues to salute Madeline Goss for her impact on our community.
While he would prefer to stay in the background and support the Center’s efforts to empower the LGBT community, Jim Manchester continues to find himself as a vital contributor to the Center and to the LGBT community’s efforts.
As a website developer, much of his work is done sitting at a small computer workstation in a corner of his office. Still, you’ll often find him at the Center as he meets new volunteers and encourages them to get involved in their passions. He constantly asks the Center’s leaders to let him know about new activities so he can lead a team of web professionals get the word out.
But his activities aren’t limited to our Center’s efforts; he also volunteers for the LGBTQ Center of Durham, the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the Mary Renault Society, the Crape Myrtle Festival, PFLAG Triangle, the Raleigh Business and Professional Network (RBPN), the AIDS Community Residence Association, the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina along with the Center’s Out! Raleigh Festival, the Affirming Faith Forum, and the Raleigh Rainbow Reading Group. Not surprisingly, many of his business clients are also a part of the LGBT community.
“My real passion is to help people find ways to feel connected to each other and use their personal power to improve each others lives and the community as a whole,” Jim says. “When we lift each other up, everyone is in a better place.”
The LGBT Center of Raleigh is grateful for Jim Manchester’s continuing effort in helping to build our community.