Writing While BLK: A conversation on the history of BLK
Date: Saturday, April 13, 5–7pm
Location: ONE Archives at the USC Libraries
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007
This event is open to the public and refreshments are provided, but RSVPs are required. RSVP via e-mail by Wednesday, April 10 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Started in 1988 by Alan Bell in Los Angeles, BLK Magazine was a Black LGBT publication that produced 41 issues between 1989 and 1994. The magazine and its offspring publications—Blackfire, Black Lace, and Kuumba–were specifically created to affirm the knowledge and narratives of the Black queer community, for the Black queer community. Three decades later, the BLK publications continue to be central to the archive of Black queer Los Angeles and provide a place for dialogue amongst Black LGBTQ folks in Los Angeles and beyond.
In this conversation, moderated by Earl Fowlkes, panelists Alan Bell, Alycee Lane, Charles Stewart, Phill Wilson, and Vallerie Wagner will explore the history, origins, and impact of BLK for the Black queer community, while celebrating and reflecting on BLK’s legacy.
Writing While BLK: A conversation on the history of BLK is organized and sponsored by the ONE Archives Foundation, Inc.
Earl Fowlkes serves as the President/CEO of the Center For Black Equity, Inc. (formerly the International Federation of Black Pride -IFBP). He founded the IFBP in 1999 ago as a coalition of organizers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa formed to promote a multinational network of Black LGBT Pride and community-based organizations. Prior to working at the Center For Black Equity, Earl served fifteen years as the Executive Director of the DC Comprehensive AIDS Resources and Education Consortium and Damien Ministries, organizations that provided services to Persons Living With HIV/AIDS in Washington, DC. Licensed as a Social Worker (New Jersey), Earl has worked on health, political and LGBTQ issues in many communities for nearly thirty years. Earl has always been politically active and has focused on voter engagement, particularly among communities of color and LGBTQ voters. He has received numerous honors and awards for his community service, and was named one of three 2013 Grand Marshalls of the Heritage of Pride (NYC Gay Pride) along with Harry Belafonte and Edith Windsor. He has also written numerous articles and op-eds, and has appeared on the Roland Martin and Michael Baisden shows.
Alan Bell is president of BLK Publishing Company, Inc., founded in 1988 to publish magazines targeted to the black lesbian and gay community. At present, the firm concentrates on graphic design, corporate identity and custom publishing with a special focus on developing materials for community-based organizations that serve the health, educational and social needs of inner-city communities. In 1977 he founded Gaysweek, New York City’s first mainstream weekly lesbian and gay newspaper and the first owned by an African American. He is recipient of a Premier Print Award—known colloquially as a Benny—the most prestigious award in the printing trade, equivalent to the Oscar and Grammy. He was inducted into the Black Gay Men Hall of Fame of the National AIDS Education and Services for Minorities in January, 2013. For 11 years, Bell was the film critic at the Los Angeles Sentinel. He has edited three books and appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Bell holds BA and MA degrees in sociology, and a BS degree in business.
Alycee Lane is a former professor who taught African American literature and culture at UC Santa Barbara (1995-2003). From there, she pursued the study of law and received her JD from UC Berkeley in 2007. Author of the award winning book Nonviolence Now! Living the 1963 Birmingham Campaign’s Promise of Peace (New York: Lantern Books, 2015), Alycee has written extensively on the subject of nonviolence. She is author of Coming in from the Cold, a blog in which she analyzes political and social issues through the prism of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence. Over the past few years, Alycee has dedicated herself to the issue of climate change. Her articles have appeared regularly in the online newsmagazines Common Dreams, Truthout, Buzzflash and Counterpunch. She is also the host and creator of the podcast The Wretched of Mother Earth (on Patreon), where she “decolonizes climate change.” Her most recent work, The Wretched of Mother Earth: the handbook for living, dying, and nonviolent revolution in the midst of climate change catastrophe, was published in 2018.
Charles Stewart served as the Senior Field Representative for California State Senator Holly J. Mitchell, who represents the 30th Senate District. Charles investigated challenges facing the District’s neighborhoods and engaged community stakeholders around potential solutions. Previously, Charles worked as Congresswoman Diane Watson’s Legislative Director in Washington, D.C. during the first two years of President Obama’s term—which he considers a career zenith! He is a former co-chair of the National Association of Black & White Men Together, Secretary of the L.A. City LGBT Police Task Force, a recipient of the 1984 Gay Pride Harvey Milk Award, and a member of Mensa since the 1970s. He has had articles published in the New Republic, Huffington Post, BLK and the European Royal History Journal. Charles attended Brown University, CSU Long Beach, UCLA and the University of Uppsala in Sweden for his undergraduate work in History and Urban Studies, and completed post-graduate studies of Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He currently resides in Culver City, California.
Phill Wilson is the Founder and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Black AIDS Institute, the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. Prior to founding the Institute, Mr. Wilson served as the AIDS Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, the Director of Policy and Planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles, co-chaired the Los Angeles County HIV Health Commission, appointed to the HRSA AIDS Advisory Committee, and served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (2010-2014). In addition to co-founding the National Black Lesbian & Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, he has been involved in the founding of a number of other notable AIDS service and community-based organizations. Mr. Wilson has published articles in many reputable publications, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Essence, Jet, and POZ, among others. The Ford Foundation named him one of the 20 award recipients for “Leadership for a Changing World,” in 2001. Wilson was a member of the US delegation to the 1994 World AIDS Summit in Paris and has worked extensively on international HIV/AIDS policy, research, prevention, and treatment issues. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1977 from Illinois Wesleyan University and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Vallerie D. Wagner currently serves as the Clinic Director of APLA Health & Wellness’ Gleicher/Chen Health Center located in South Los Angeles. Prior to joining APLA, Vallerie has served as the COO at the Black AIDS Institute and the Director of Education and Social Services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Vallerie also worked as an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Voyager and Galileo Projects for 15 years. Vallerie has been a strong advocate for the human rights of the LGBT community and people living with HIV/AIDS for more than 30 years, organizing and coordinating many conferences, including the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and National Black Lesbian Conferences. She is a former member of the board of directors of United Lesbians of African Heritage (ULOAH), Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Zuna Institute, the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), Christopher Street West/LA Pride, the Jordan Rustin Coalition and the National Black Justice Coalition.