Human Rights Foundation, the educational arm of the LGBTQ rights organization HRC, has announced it’s launching an LGBTI alumni network for those who attended HBCU.
HBCU stands for ‘historically black colleges and universities’. The network is being organized in conjunction with news site, HBCU Buzz. Details of the network were announced during HRC’s 13th annual HBCU Summit in Atlanta last week.
HBCU Buzz Founder Luke Lawal said in a statement, ‘More than one million African Americans live in the United States and 3.7% identify as LGBTQ. This partnership may represent those 3.7% statistically, but it is a step in the right direction for all of us.’
Leslie Hall, 29, is the Associate Director of HRC’s HBCU Program. He is a two-time historically black university graduate, now working towards a third degree: a PhD in Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Howard University.
Hall’s currently based in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and was happy to answer some more questions for Gay Star News about the network.
What, for you, are the power of alum networks?
LH: Alumni often hold one of the most influential voices on a college campus as they are donors and recruiters for the university. With more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country, an LGBTQ alumni network like this is long overdue.
With LGBTQ and allied alumni supporting our cause for equality, we now have an exciting new opportunity to increase diversity and inclusion policies and programs on campuses.
Do you feel that you have benefitted yourself from POC or LGBTI alum networks. Or is it something you wished you had more opportunities for?
LH: Going to an HBCU was one of the best decisions I ever made. I feel so blessed and am grateful for the opportunity. It truly helped me become the man I am today, fostering my passion for social justice and equality.
Through my work, I’ve been able to connect with so many LGBTQ HBCU alums, which sparked the idea for creating this network. It’s definitely something that I wish existed when I was graduating and entering the workforce.
How will the HBCU network operate and how can people become involved?
LH: To expand our outreach and bring people into the network, we’ve recently announced a new partnership with HBCU Buzz.
Through this partnership, we’ll be able to engage LGBTQ students within the HBCU community to create an HBCU LGBTQ ombudsman, increase campus collaborations with student-driven associations, and produce a biweekly column filled with opportunities for both students and alumni.
We’ll also be able engage past participants of our annual HBCU summit through social media and direct outreach. We’ve been holding this summit for 13 years now, so there’s already a large base of HBCU alums that we are interacting with.
HBCU alums interested in joining the new network can sign up now. As an added benefit, new members to the network will also become HRC members and join us in the ongoing fight for LGBTQ equality.