Black History Month: Advocacy Through The Decades

Charlotte Pride is celebrating Black History Month with special highlights every Tuesday and Thursday in February, profiling Black LGBTQ change-makers and history with a special connection to Charlotte and the Carolinas. Our profiles will include history-makers from decades past, as well as those living and making their mark in our own time.

Today, we’re profiling heroes from the realm of advocacy and activism.

Mabel Hampton

Activist. Philanthropist. Harlem Dancer.

Born on May 2, 1902 in Winston-Salem, Mabel Hampton was a lesbian activist and philanthropist who also worked as a dancer in all-Black productions during the Harlem Renaissance. She moved to New York City as a child. Her tumultuous youth culminated in a somewhat questionable arrest and conviction for prostitution, which she suspected was a cover for punishing her lesbian sexuality. As the 1920s rolled around, Hampton found herself on the chorus line of all-black productions from iconic Harlem Renaissance figures, including the likes of Moms Mabley. In 1932, Hampton met her life-long partner Lillian Foster. Hampton was a generous donor, despite her low-income and working class pay. She supported Black causes, as well as early gay and lesbian organizations. She also marched in the very first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1979. She was also a featured speaker at the 1984 NYC Pride Parade, where she said, “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.” The following year, Hampton was the grand marshal for the parade. Hampton’s voluminous archives — including a lesbian pulp fiction collection, and letters and other records documenting the lives of Black women during the Harlem Renaissance — were donated to the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Hampton is profiled in a 1984 documentary, “Before Stonewall,” as well as other documentary films.

Toni D. Newman

Author. Advocate.

Raised in Jacksonville, N.C., Toni D. Newman is a transgender author, health worker, sex worker rights’ advocate. She currently works as the interim executive director of LYRIC, a San Francisco LGBTQ youth center. Newman graduated from Wake Forest University in 1985, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Newman has worked in a variety of advocacy and healthcare roles, including as a canvasser, fundraiser, and legislative aide for Equality California. For 10 years, Newman also worked as a professional mistress. Prior to moving to California, Newman worked for seven years for the North Carolina Community College System. In 2011, Newman released her memoir, I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman, recounting the 25-year journey of her transition. The book was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards and was the impetus for Newman’s honor as a “Face of Courage” at her alma mater, Wake Forest University.

Mandy Carter

Activist. Thinker. Visionary.

Born in Albany, N.Y., Mandy Carter has made North Carolina her home — and, wow, aren’t we lucky?! Carter, who lives in Durham, has made waves of progress for LGBTQ people of color and North Carolinians. She’s one of six co-founders and a former executive director of Southerners on New Ground. The group was founded in 1993 at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference, hosted in Durham — yes, because Carter helped bring the conference there. Carter also led political campaigns helping to challenge anti-LGBTQ politician Jesse Helms, who represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate for decades. She was the campaign manager for voter education and mobilization campaigns, some of them directly targeting LGBTQ voters in the in the 1990s. Carter is also a co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, an African-American LGBTQ advocacy organization, and she also served as one of five national co-chairs of Obama LGBT Pride, the president’s 2008 campaign initiative for LGBTQ voters. Carter’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2005, she was nominated, though she ultimately didn’t win, the Nobel Peace Prize. Carter began her advocacy work in 1968, when she worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign.

Frank D. Dorsey, II

Educator. Leader. Doer.

Frank D. Dorsey, II is a community leader with an orientation toward passion-filled service — making change and crafting history in our own community today. Dorsey is a member of the Equality North Carolina board, as well as serving on the boards of Carolinas CARE Partnership and Charlotte Black Pride. Dorsey received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and his Master of Science in college student personnel at Arkansas Tech University. He’s currently pursuing his doctorate in leadership studies at N.C. A&T University. He works professionally as the associate director of student engagement at Johnson C. Smith University, where he oversees the university’s student union and student leadership programs, including student government, student activities, intramural and club sports, Greek Life, and civic involvement. He’s always had a passion for providing resources and support for LGBTQ students at historically Black colleges and universities. Dorsey participated in the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative and the Human Rights Campaign’s HBCU Leadership Program before also participating in the Charlotte Community Building Initiative’s Leaders Under 40 program.


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