PACT Cleveland marks its 25th anniversary
Cleveland--While LGBT organizations across the country are trying to build bridges to other groups and constituencies, �You guys have done it,� Mandy Carter told the People of All Colors Together of Cleveland�s 25th anniversary banquet.
Carter, a renowned African-American lesbian activist and executive director of Southerners on New Ground, was the keynote speaker at the May 21 banquet, the jewel in the crown of PACT Cleveland�s anniversary weekend.
The weekend also coincided with the National Association of Black and White Men Together�s Spring Midlands Regional Conference.
�When the National grows up, it should look just like PACT Cleveland,� said nabwmt co-chair Nat Martin.
The weekend drew 150 guests from across Ohio and the globe, with one attendee trekking in from Poland and another from Los Angeles.
Carter, who is also a board member of the National Black Justice Coalition, recalled being asked to speak at an nabwmt national conference years ago and wondering if she would be welcome, being a woman.
Not only was she welcomed with open arms, she said, but Black and White Men Together, PACT Cleveland�s national parent organization, remains one of her favorite organizations to this day.
�I love you guys,� she said, on the verge of tears.
�Her inspiring words and encouraging support are signs that we are on the right track,� said PACT Cleveland co-chair Mike Kelley.
During the program, Deb Sharp of the Human Rights Campaign and BlackOut Unlimited was presented with the ImPACT Award, honoring a person or group that reflects PACT�s goals of educating the community and building bridges between people and organizations.
On May 20, PACT held an opening reception for the weekend, complete with performances by the North Coast Men�s Chorus and the presentation of awards to other LGBT organizations and businesses celebrating anniversaries, including PFLAG Cleveland, Insight and the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center.
Carter, who was last in Cleveland for the second annual Black Unity Celebration, vowed to return in August for this year�s retitled event, the Black, Gay and Proud Celebration.
�This truly was a community celebration, one that marks the great joy that Cleveland and its many diverse LGBT organizations are continuing the fight for equality with diversity,� Kelley said. �The support and the presence of over 35 local and national organizations was a sign of hope for our continued collaboration with the greater community.�
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