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Mandy Carter Lecture (Photos)
As part of Out Week, UAB’s Free Food for Thought program invited one of the leading African American lesbian activists in the country and a former nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Mandy Carter, to UAB’s campus to give students the answer. Out Week is a part of the Multicultural and Diversity Programming to raise awareness and celebrate LGBTQ pride.
“The reason Free Food for Thought is bringing in Mandy Carter specifically is that [this program] likes to foster open and free dialogue between students and among students over topics that are sometimes contentious and sometimes difficult to discuss. These topics are usually where people revert to adversarial conversations,” said Chloe Bennion, an intern Coordinator for UAB Multicultural Diversity Food for Thought program.
Before the start of Mandy Carter’s Lecture, a UAB freshman Katy Vaughn expressed her reasons for attending the lecture. “I want to hear all points of view. Especially if I’m trying to make a difference for the better of all people, then I definitely need to hear all sides of the story. She [Mandy Carter] has many different identities and a strong notion of the solidarity of justice. And I think that what she has to say is going to be a great representation of that and will give me a better understanding and a foot forward on how to make a difference.”
Mandy Carter began her lecture by talking about several of the Civil Rights Movement’s pivotal moments. These instances included Ivy Morgan taking her case against the Jim Crow Laws to the US Supreme Court and winning, Rosa Parks refusing to give her seat up on the bus, and the Freedom Ride. She concluded by mentioning Martin Luther King’s response to African Americans participating in the Vietnam War, “How can you ask Black men to fight and be killed in Vietnam for Democracy, when they aren’t even free?”
Next, Carter explained her early childhood in foster care and her relief when she was finally placed within a group home and allowed the opportunity to go to a normal high school. “I became one of the first black cheerleaders in my high school’s history, and it was one of the most empowering experiences I have ever had.” Carter’s other high school inspiration was a a staff member from the American Friends Service Committee given at her school. She told the audience that she drew inspiration from how this man described the Quakers’ outlook on peace and social justice and the power of the individual to impact change.
From there, Carter shifted the focus of her talk to her activism, which started with her involvement in the War Resisters League, a group that protested the injustice of the Vietnam War.
This experience inspired her to “continue on her journey of social justice,” eventually leading Carter to work with the NAACP and help found an organization called Southerners on New Ground (SONG) in 1993. SONG is an organization whose focus is to combat homophobia in the South. “I co-founded this organization to form a transformative model of organizing and gathering groups of people together who represented various races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, classes, and other isms,”
In the last part of her lecture, Carter left her audience with powerful words of hope and optimism. She stated, “Do not underestimate the power of love. The power of that and what you do with it is important,” said Carter. “If you don’t like who I am, you don’t have the right to change me or kill me!” Carter then discussed the importance of fostering acceptance and understanding among people, especially among minority groups.
In concluding her lecture, Carter talked about how far America has come since her childhood. “Now, we have an African American President, and he has an LGBTQ liaison, and because of these miracles of progress, I will never lose hope.”
Writer Joseph Thornton
Photos by Tuan Ngo