2017 Elections Round Up: Major Victories in State, Local Elections for African Americans

VA Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (l); Minneapolis City Councilmember Andrea Jenkins (r)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

If last night’s elections are any indicator of what is possible in the 2018 mid-terms, there will be even more to celebrate in a year’s time. Not only did the states of New Jersey and Virginia vote in the Democratic candidates for governor (Philip Murphy and Ralph Northam, respectively), each state also elected their first and second African-American lieutenant governors, Sheila Oliver and Justin Fairfax.  Fairfax is the first African American elected to statewide office in Virginia in 25 years. Read more about the victories and histories of both by clicking their names above.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles (l) and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter (r)

Two major U.S. cities also voted in mayors of color yesterday: Melvin Carter became the first black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Vi Lyles was elected Charlotte, NC’s first African-American female mayor.

Additionally, Andrea Jenkins, who became the first openly trans woman of color elected to the city council of a major U.S. city, will represent Ward 8 of Minneapolis. To read the Washington Post feature on her, click here.

Another big city council seat win came from Mazahir Salih, the first immigrant to do so in Iowa City. Salih moved to the US from Sudan in 1997 and you can read more about her win here.

To continue to support these candidates, you can follow each on Twitter:

@SheilaOliverNJ, @FairfaxJustin@PhilMurphyNJ, @RalphNortham, @melvincarter3, @ViLyles, 

@andreaforward8, and @MazahirIowaCity.

Voting matters. High turnouts are meaningful. Congratulations to the winners, much gratitude to the grass roots organizers, canvassers and volunteers, and power to the people – always!

Spelman College Awards Scholarships for LGBTQ Advocates via Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program

by Paul Meara via bet.com

Spelman College, an all girls HBCU, announced this week a new scholarship program for students of the school who advocate for LGBTQ issues. The Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” Spelman professor and alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall said.

Guy-Sheftall is also the founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center. The scholarship is named after Dr. Lee Watkins, who is Sheftall’s cousin and a founding member of the Women’s Research and Resource Center’s National Advisory Board. Guy-Sheftall pledged $100,000 in May and launched the scholars program and lecture series to explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.

According to The Root, two Spelman sophomores who self-identify as LGBTQ advocates will be awarded renewable $25,000 scholarships this fall. “As an institution that upholds a supportive student experience, this gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said after the scholarship program was announced.

To read more, go to: Spelman College Is Awarding Hefty Scholarships For LGBTQ Advocates | National | BET

Sean and Terry Torrington Create SlayTV, Media Network for Black Queer Community

Sean and Terry Torrington (photo via nbcnews.com)

article by Julie Compton via nbcnews.com

The term “slay” has important meaning to out director Sean Torrington. “To kill it, to be the best of the best, to always be on top,” he told NBC Out. It’s also the name of the 36-year-old’s new global media network for LGBTQ people of color.

SlayTV is the brainchild of Torrington and his husband, Terry Torrington, also a director. He said it gives a platform to black LGBTQ storytellers whose voices mainstream media often ignores. It also allows them to make money so they can “keep on creating the dope content they create,” he explained.

Torrington started his career as a Goldman Sachs project manager. After getting laid off in 2010, he took the opportunity to follow his passion for filmmaking and began creating web series on YouTube that centered on LGBTQ people of color. He said it’s a community that rarely sees itself reflected in gay or mainstream media.

According to a 2016 GLAAD report, cable and streaming platforms predominantly depict LGBTQ characters that are white (72 percent and 71 percent, respectively, in the most recent TV season).

“People would come up to us and be like ‘Oh, where can we see more content like this? This is really revolutionary, this is great,'” Torrington said. “I was like …’We need one central location for queer [and] trans people of color television.'”

Shortly after, Torrington created an app that collects selected content about LGBTQ people of color from YouTube into a single platform. “We literally within a month got 20,000 downloads,” he said. Continue reading