Tennessee State University to Screen National Documentary on African-Americans and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights

375652_537889596246236_36807159_nNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –The New Black, a documentary, which tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent same-sex marriage movement and the fight over civil rights, will be screened at Tennessee State University on Thursday, Oct. 16.

In collaboration with the Gay Straight Alliance, a TSU student group, and the Nashville Black Pride, the University has planned a number of weeklong activities to coincide with the screening as part of TSU’s first celebration of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) History Month in October.

According to Tiffany Cox, the director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, the screening and celebration are a result of TSU receiving part of a $4,000 grant from the Human Rights Campaign. TSU is one of four historically black colleges and universities that received the grant to use the award-winning documentary “as a tool to advance on-campus LGBT inclusion.”

“Because of our strong commitment to ensuring a campus climate of equality and inclusion, we saw the announcement requesting proposals for this grant and we applied for it,” said Cox “We were elated when we received notification in the summer that TSU had been selected.”

The New Black, directed by Yoruba Richen, explores how race, faith, justice and identity intersected in Maryland’s politically powerful African American community in 2012 as the state prepared to vote on marriage equality. It comes on the heels of recent reports showing that while many majority-white colleges and universities have embraced the call for LGBT inclusion, HBCUs have been notably slow to extend their historical mission of social justice to the success of their LGBT students.

rainbow fist-1“TSU is very pleased to screen this documentary, and to host discussions and activities that promote the equal treatment of all students on our campus,” Cox said, reminding the community about the University’s “strong policy” against harassment or discrimination of any kind.

Visibly pleased and upbeat that TSU is screening The New Black documentary and hosting programs to mark LGBT History Month is Iesha Milliner, president of TSU’s Gay Straight Alliance, who contributed in developing the proposal for the HRC grant.

“I am glad that for the first time TSU is showing such support for the Alliance in its 10 years on this campus,” said Milliner, a junior Art Education major from Nashville. “The campus screening of The New Black will bring the student body together and provide answers to many questions that are asked on a daily basis. My greatest hope is that this event will open the eyes of this community to the LGBTQ issues that exist on this campus.”

The New Black has screened in more than 85 cities around the country through ITVS’s Community Cinema public education and civic engagement initiative. The documentary has garnered numerous awards, including the Audience Award at Philadelphia QFest, AFI Docs and Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, where it also received an honorable mention as Outstanding Documentary Feature. At New York City’s Urbanworld Film Festival, it won the jury award for Best Documentary Feature.

Other HBCUs that received funding to screen the documentary are Alabama State University, Johnson C. Smith University and Spelman College.

The screening at TSU on October 16 is at 5:30 p.m., in the Floyd Payne Campus Center Forum. Other events marking LGBT History Month will begin October 13-17. They will include displays, nationally recognized motivational speakers, panel discussions, free HIV screenings and workshops. For registration and more information, go to: http://www.tnstate.edu/eeoaa/tsusafezone.aspx




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About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.