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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scholars at Emory seek realignment between LGBT and civil rights movements

When Martin Luther King began to speak of "the Beloved Community" in 1956, the Stonewall riots which helped spark the gay rights movement was still 13 years away. Since then, both struggles have followed similar paths, though mostly independent of each other.

But a three-day international conference at Emory University, which poses the question "Whose Beloved Community?," will attempt to dissect and reframe King's grand philosophy within a modern African-American LGBT context.

Drawing scholars and advocates from across the country, the "Black Civil Rights and LGBT Rights Conference" runs March 27-29 and will feature such panels as "Christianity at the Crossing of Selma" and Stonewall, and "Failed Alliances? Moving Beyond Sexuality and Race in the LGBT and Civil Rights Movements."

In a feature previewing the conference, WABE's Rose Scott recalls how the anti-gay attack on Brandon White in Atlanta's Pittsburgh neighborhood two years ago "reignited conversations about the black community and a longstanding perception of being homophobic and estranged from the plight of its own black gay people."

Scott also talks to conference co-chair and Emory University professor Dona Yarborough, conference program coordinator Charles Stephens, Spelman College student Jasmine Cornell and Spelman visiting professor Dr. C. Nicole Mason.

The conference will deal largely with parsing out the similarities and differences between the LGBT struggle for equality and the legacy model of the civil rights movement. It also positions Atlanta as the connecting point between both. "I see the conference as being central in thinking about the South and where the South is going to go in terms of equality for all," Dr. Mason tells Scott. "As we all know the South lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of racial equality and it's now currently lagging behind in terms of LGBT equality."

Listen to the full audio broadcast.

Whose Beloved Community? Black Civil and LGBT Rights kicks off Thursday night, March 27, with a keynote conversation featuring former NAACP chair Julian Bond, LGBT activists Mandy Carter, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and moderator Robert Reid-Pharr. 7:30 p.m. Glenn Auditorium, 1660 N. Decatur Road. 404-634-3936. Conference runs through Sat., March 29. See full schedule.

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