More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Sharon J. Lettman Named Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and ending racism and homophobia, has appointed Sharon J. Lettman as Executive Director.
“We must bring our families together,” Lettman said. “Gay and transgender people are our children, our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, parents, co-workers and friends. They are a vital part of the black community, and it is time for everyone to recognize the real issues we all face when our brothers and sisters are denied full participation in the life of our community.”
Lettman’s efforts to advance the conversation of race, religion, and sexual orientation have shown remarkable progress through the African American Religious Affairs Program she led at People For the American Way Foundation that addressed Homophobia in the Black Church. In addition, The Gill Foundation highlighted Lettman in its 2008 annual report as a “key ally” for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality movement. She is also on the board of directors for National Stonewall Democrats.
Throughout her career Lettman has been selflessly committed to a vast array of causes to bring about social change. She comes to NBJC after eight years at People For the American Way (PFAW) and People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF). Most recently, she served as Executive Vice President for Leadership Programs and External Affairs at PFAW and PFAWF. Lettman oversaw the organizations’ dynamic leadership programs, including Young People For, Young Elected Officials Network, and African American Religious Affairs, in addition to the organizations’ engagement with supporters and investors, key constituency groups and coalition allies. Lettman’s belief in religious freedom and the separation of church and state gave her the insight to expand the agenda of the African American Religious Affairs programs which countered right wing efforts in African American communities, especially around LGBT equality.
Lettman began her impressive career as the Executive Director of the Florida Student Association (FSA) and then served as the Director of Communications for the Florida Association of Counties (FAC). Subsequently, she built a successful public affairs firm, P&P Communications. Her clients have included the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Education Association (NEA), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Schott Foundation for Public Education, among others.
A variety of social justice and civil rights leaders weighed in on Lettman’s appointment to NBJC:
Prominent Civil Rights activist and former chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Mary Frances Berry said, "Having witnessed Lettman’s leadership firsthand while she led key initiatives at PFAW, I am certain she has the ability to unify families and our community and succeed in her goal to establish a common ground around black LGBT issues. Her unwavering commitment to social justice will break barriers at the intersection of race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “I am thrilled to welcome Sharon as the new Executive Director of the NBJC. Sharon's long history working to build bridges between a diverse group of communities will be a skill set that will make our movement stronger. Far too often racism still exists in our society, including in the LGBT community, and if we are going to achieve the equality we strive for- it will be once we all realize that we are brothers and sisters in this struggle. Sharon Lettman is the right person to help all of us realize that we are stronger together than we are divided."
Founded in 2003, NBJC is America's only nationwide Black gay civil rights organization and the authoritative source on LGBT issues as they affect Black communities. Lettman resides in the Washington, DC area and recently married a Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, who returned this past July from a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq.
To see the NBJC's press release announcing Sharon J. Lettman as Executive Director, click here.